Eleven years ago, I was like you. I was in your steps. I was not humble at all, but university forced me to be. After I graduated from a simple vocational high school in my town as a Data Entry student, I thought I knew it all. After all, I was an honor student, and regular school was easy for me to deal with. Then, I arrived at the university.
I chose to study Computer Science because I didn’t know what to pick. I liked so many things, that it was hard for me to come up with my favorite topic to move forward in my life. After investigating for a while, I came up to the conclusion that by studying Computer Science, I was going to be able to work in any industry that I liked in the future. I was able to be nearby every professional that I admire, and I was going to be able to learn so many different things. I wasn’t wrong and I don’t regret my choice… or I mean… I don’t regret it NOW, but I did, for a while…
My first two classes were Visual Basic and C++. After a couple of months in the classroom, all hell broke up. I didn’t understand a thing. What in the world it’s a variable in the first place? What do you mean with a “space in memory”. Why the hell you write an i inside a for loop. What even i means in the first place??
And there I was. I got my grades at the end of the semester. They were, D for Visual Basic, and F in C++. It was a big hit to my long story of pride. Imposter syndrome came up. I thought all my life that I was very good in everything academic related, until I got these grades for the first time in my life. What the hell is this. I’m trash. I don’t belong to these people. Should I quit?
You are not the problem!
Yes, yes! You need to be very good to be a successful Software Engineer, but the thing is, that if you made it this far, you probably already are! You are not the problem. Professors are the problem. The professor has NO IDEA how to teach you coding. He doesn’t. Believe me on this. I have the credentials to tell you this. There’s acertain art into teaching how to code the right way, and college teachers doesn’t have this art. Just look at your professor. How old is he? He’s probably retired from the industry already, and he has lost a step. Albert Einstein said that if you can’t explain something to a child, then you don’t understand it enough. And that’s it! Some college professors are out of the industry and teach for a living, making them to stay far away of best coding practices and new technologies. They don’t know how to code anymore, and that’s why they can’t teach it to you the right way.
What’s the solution for you?
I don’t have enough evidence to say that the upcoming advice is the only way to go, but it was the solution and a life changer for me. Don’t take a 15 minutes tutorial at Youtube. Read a book. But not any book. Read a god damn introductory book for the language of your choice. How many pages have the book? 500? 600? Read it. Read it carefully, with attention and read it entirely. If you are not willing to do it, then yes, you are in the wrong career. Aside for lottery winners, success don’t come without sacrifice. Remember the final grades of my first semester? I never got anything less than an A for the rest of my bachelor, after I read and understood the book.
But what book should I pick?
This is a tricky question, but I will share with you what worked for me. First of all, I want to be clear in the fact that I haven’t been paid by this author, nor I have been offered money to sponsor any book. I just want to share with you what worked for me. This is the book I read after my ugly grades:
Tony Gaddis was a god sent to me, and one of the persons responsible for my academic success. He teaches you in baby steps, little by little, piece by piece, until you have the whole picture.
But Samuel, that book is from 2008!
It is. But don’t panic. Tony Gaddis has made these books a successful series, and he is still writing books with the same name as of today. The series is called “Starting out With”. Just add your favorite language at the end of the title, and you’ll find a book for it. For example, my favorite language is C#. If you want to learn C#, just search for “Starting out with C#”. Pick the latest version of the book (2019 as of today 06/06/2021) and you are ready to go.
What happened after I read this book?
I was a part of an internship with Microsoft in my second bachelor year. After I finished college, I worked 4 years as a Software Developer for the most recognized written press brand in my island. After that, I worked 2 years for a well known consulting company, again in my island, and now I do work for a household name in United States, while having a full time job in a recognized integration company in Puerto Rico.
What’s the secret?
But I just told you! Really! For the love of Christ, read an entire introductory book. After that, read read read and read. Stop depending of your professor. Your professor has no idea how to teach you programming, and the only person who can teach you, is yourself.
Want to know more about me or my story? Or maybe share yours? Do it in the comments section!