Python is a super-popular programming language. It is still relevant and trending for 30+ years since its first stable release.
But what makes Python such a popular language?
First and foremost, Python is an extremely versatile language. With Python, you can do things like:
- Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning & AI
- Web Development
- Game Development
Each of these skills is in high demand in the job market.
Another great feature of the Python programming language is its beginner-friendliness. You can use Python for almost anything but it’s also really easy to get started with.
Python’s syntax sometimes reads almost like English. This lowers the barrier of getting started with Python. Due to the easiness of Python syntax, you can spend more time on coding and less on scratching your head.
Python is a 30+ years old language with millions of developers. The Python community has aged like wine and grown like a hurricane.
Having a strong community is also an important thing when it comes to a programming language. This is because the help is readily available.
To really understand why Python is such a popular and great language, please read:
This article walks you through how to get started with Python from scratch step-by-step. More importantly, you are going to learn how to become a job-ready Pythonista in no more than 6 months. By the way, to learn Python just for fun, you benefit from reading this article equally as much.
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1. Know Why Python
In the introduction, I already praised the Python programming language a lot.
However, it is important you truly understand if you really want to choose Python over the other great programming languages out there.
Python is a great language to get started with if you:
- Heard about programming and want to learn it out of curiosity.
- Want to become a full-time software developer over time but do not yet know in which direction to go.
- Want to add another great programming to your skill arsenal.
- Want to become a data scientist.
As I already mentioned, Python is a versatile language you can use for almost anything. For example, I have used my Python skills for:
- Building 2D games.
- Building a backend for a website.
- Analyzing WhatsApp chats.
- Machine Learning.
- Deep Learning.
- Writing a bunch of useful automation scripts.
This might seem impressive, but it still does not automatically guarantee you should learn Python.
If you want to become a game developer, do not start with Python. Instead, start using a popular game engine like Unity and learn C#.
To become an iOS developer, learn Swift.
To become an Android developer, learn Kotlin or Java.
As you can see, there are lots of different languages to learn based on what you are interested in.
If you want to learn to code for fun, then it does not really matter which language you pick. If you are not planning to get a job soon, there is no such thing as a “wrong programming language”.
From now on, I’m assuming you have decided to go with Python and want to become a job-ready Python developer as fast as possible.
2. Understand What It Takes
Learning to code is not difficult but it takes time.
Coding takes a lot of practice, trial and error, and patience. You cannot master a programming language. It is like playing the piano. You can always improve and you’ll never be perfect.
If you already have experience with other programming languages, then learning Python is going to be much easier. But if you start from scratch, becoming a job-ready developer will take months or even a year of hard work. This means practicing hours every day.
Expect to feel like giving up or not being clever enough to learn to code.
Expect not to achieve much during the first couple of months.
If you are prepared for these, learning Python becomes easy. It just takes some time!
At this point, you should understand why Python is your language and what it takes to learn it. Next, let’s get into the learning phase.
3. Start with the Basics
Needless to say, you need to start learning Python from the very basics.
But what is the best way to learn the basics?
There are many ways to start learning the Python programming language:
- Learn for free on the internet.
- Take a university course.
- Join a bootcamp
- Enroll in a paid online course
- Ask/pay for a coding mentor.
If you came here to learn python for fun, just type “Python tutorial for beginners” on Google or Youtube.
But if you want to become a competent, job-ready developer, you should pay more attention to learning and optimizing it.
You can learn to code for free.
However, learning Python from free online courses and resources has its drawbacks:
- No dedicated assistance is available.
- No schedules or pace.
- No one is showing you the right path.
- Easier to procrastinate.
- A lot of information that may confuse you.
If you are serious about learning Python, you should instead take a well-prepared online course run by experienced software developers in the field.
The benefits of taking an online course run by real software engineers are:
- They set the right pace.
- They are there to help you.
- They have experience in the job market.
- You go from zero to hero real quick.
The only drawback to this is you need to spend an extra buck.
If you want to become a job-ready data scientist, I highly recommend reading:
To learn Python in general, check out some awesome courses or bootcamps from Udemy.
It took me 3.5 years to land a software developer job since I started.
If I had to start all over again, I’d take an intense zero-to-hero Bootcamp right off the get-go. Not something that is taught in a university, but something that is taught by active software developers in the field. They have the experience to guide you in the right direction.
4. Write Code Every Day
When you are getting started with Python basics you should start writing code right away. It is not enough to just read a book, or watch a lecture/tutorial. You have to rince and repeat everything you see in the guides. Furthermore, you need to understand what you are writing and how the code works.
To become a job-ready Python developer, you should write code every day. Practice at least for a couple of hours.
If you are on a course or a bootcamp, setting the pace is easy—just follow the schedule and listen to your mentors.
Anyway, practicing every day keeps you on track to becoming a professional Python developer quickly.
5. Jump in Python Communities
Coding is tricky and you are going to need assistance. If you are not on a course or working with a bunch of teammates, you are going to figure things out yourself. This is where Google and Python communities help a ton.
Even if you are working as a software developer, you are going to use Google and the communities every day. Thus it is important to get used to the habit early on.
Python has a mature and large community of developers of all skill levels on your side. And I don’t mean you should start calling people or sending messages to random people.
Instead, you should join Python developers’ forums on Stack Overflow, Github, Reddit, and so on. These Python developer communities answer common questions related to Python programming language and more.
If you run a piece of code and see an error, chances are someone else has had the same issue and asked about it in the community. Better yet, someone with more knowledge has likely answered that question publicly for you to see.
Using an online community this way is a great way to streamline your learning process as a Python developer. This way you do not need to spend countless hours guessing, reading 1000-page long manuals, or anything that sort. Instead, you can just Google up your question and get the answer in a matter of seconds.
Of course, when you get more experienced, you get the opportunity to answer other developers’ questions too. This way you give back to the community that gave you so much.
In short, do not be afraid to use Google to seek help from the community.
Next, let’s take a look at how you can understand some trickier concepts by teaching them.
6. Learn by Teaching
A wise man once told, “You do not know how to do it before you know how to teach it”.
This applies to Python programming. Some concepts in Python can be tricky and difficult to wrap your head around. When this happens, turn things around. Try to teach that concept to someone.
Here are some ideas as to how you can learn by teaching.
6.1. Write Notes
You can learn by teaching by writing notes or perhaps a blog post. Imagine you have an audience of developers that depend on this information and you cannot get it wrong.
This way you force yourself to learn the concept in a completely different way.
Also, having a programming blog would benefit any developer. This is because you can showcase your skills and passion. Better yet, you get your voice heard and build a community.
As a beginner, you are going to face issues thousands of new developers face every day. Writing public notes can help others overcome the issues the way you did.
6.2. Buy a Rubber Duck
Another great way to learn by teaching is by owning a rubber duck. This is not a joke, by the way!
When a developer needs to debug their code, they can explain the program line-by-line to a rubber duck. Explaining the problem step by step causes the solution to present itself. Rubber-ducking is a popular way to solve problems and better understand brain-heavy topics and code solutions.
7. Ask a Lot of Questions
Learning how to code means asking a lot of questions. More importantly, asking a lot of questions never stops. Even the most experienced developer ask questions every day in their work. So much so that it has become a meme:
- If you are on a course, ask questions from your course staff or fellow learners.
- If you work as a software developer, ask your teammates who know more about the topic.
- If you are all on your own, use Google to find answers from online communities.
Nevertheless, do not be afraid to ask questions all the time.
Asking questions only makes you learn faster and overcome irrelevant obstacles. Learning Python or any other programming language is impossible without asking questions!
8. Solve Your Own Problems with Code
Every step in this article is important. But this is the one I would highlight the most.
To become a software developer or data scientist, you have to use your Python coding skills to solve problems that matter.
Solving problems with code is what turns you into a professional and competent software developer. At this point, I’d like to make a distinction.
- A programmer only knows how to write code and knows the theory.
- A software developer knows how to apply theory to solve problems with code.
No company is looking for a programmer. They are looking for individuals who can use coding skills to solve customer problems. In other words, they are looking for software developers.
Naturally, the same applies to data science. It is not enough to know how to write Python scripts or know some cool details about linear algebra. You have to use those skills to handle and manipulate data in a way that helps your customers or your team make clever business solutions.
Even though the words programmer and software developer are used interchangeably, they are entirely different things.
To become a software developer or data scientist, you have to start solving problems early on. In addition to teaching you valuable lessons, solving problems with code also builds your portfolio. When you apply for a job, you need to be able to express your passion clearly.
If you have no previous working experience, the best way to showcase your expertise is by showing problems you have solved with code.
A great way to solve a problem with code is by writing a script that automates repetitive tasks that require manual actions.
For instance, you could use your Python skills to write:
- A GPA calculator given a sheet of grades.
- A BMI calculator to find your BMI index.
- A crypto trading bot.
- A sudoku solver.
- A text-to-speech program with the help of a text-to-speech module.
These are only some examples of solving a problem with code.
By the way, don’t be afraid to reinvent the wheel! When you are getting started, you probably don’t have enough experience to come up with unique solutions. However, as you gain more experience, you can tackle more difficult problems easier.
To take home, solve problems with code early on. Software development is all about solving problems. It is not about knowing all the nitpicked details and theories!
9. Use Version Control
When you create your own Python projects, you need to have a system where you store the code and keep track of all the updates. If you are going to have team members in the future, they also need to be able to access/modify the code with ease. To make this possible, you need to learn how to use a version control system like Git.
As the name suggests, version control keeps track of the versions of your program. When you change even one line of code, you are creating a new version of your project. Any time you make a change you should add the changes to the version control system.
This allows you to keep track of the changes in your code.
For a beginner, version control is like CTRL+Z on steroids. It allows you to go back in time to see what your code looked like months or years ago. But there is much more to it that we are not going to cover here.
To learn more about version control, make sure to read my Introduction to Version Control.
When you start any bigger code project, you should put it under version control. If you don’t, there is only one version of the project. If something goes wrong, you cannot get back the old working code.
The most popular version control is called Git and the cloud-based hosting system for it is called GitHub.
In all of its simplicity, Git keeps track of your project history. When you push the updated version of a program to GitHub, your code files go to the cloud. Even if your computer was stolen or broken apart, your code projects are still safe on GitHub. So it also acts as a backup system.
More importantly, you can invite collaborators to your GitHub projects. These collaborators can then make improvements to your program.
In addition to keeping track of the version and inviting collaborators, you can make your projects public. It’s a great way to share your projects with your recruiters. This is why most of the recruiters ask for a link to your GitHub. They want to see the programs and code you have written.
Every software development team uses version control. It allows the team to work on the same codebase at the same time on different computers.
Developers can split the program into separate branches. Then they can independently work on the branches until they are ready to add the changes back to the original project. No, developers are not copy-pasting each others’ code over WhatsApp or email. Instead, they use a version control system to commit changes to the codebase and to keep track of the history of the codebase.
If you are learning Python for fun, you do not need to worry about version control too much, especially at the beginning. If you want to become a job-ready Pythonista, you have to learn how to use version control.
Unfortunately, you do not learn how to use one overnight. Using version control involves remembering and understanding a lot of commands and principles.
git pull git checkout login-color git add frontpage.html git commit -m "Change the color of the login screen." git push origin head
It is so helpful to learn version control skills before starting your first job.
The best way to learn is by watching some guides and adding your projects under version control early on.
I was wrong.
When I started my first job as a software developer, I had to learn version control the hard way.
In addition to all the hassle during the onboarding period, I had to struggle with learning version control quickly.
If I could change history, I would spend a lot of time learning version control as I started programming.
Now you should have a great idea of what it takes to learn Python and what you should pay attention to.
There is one more thing when it comes to optimizing your learning process. This is of course scheduling and taking breaks.
10. Take Breaks
Dedicate at least a couple of hours to programming every day. But remember to take enough breaks too!
Programming is addictive. You can easily spend countless hours without moving the chair. But this is bad. Eventually, you have stared at the screen long enough that your brain can’t function in an optimal way. To avoid this, take breaks. Often.
Some people suggest the 52-17 routine where you do 52 minutes of hard work followed by a 17-minute break.
Of course, it is up to a debate as to what is the optimal break interval. But the fact is you should take breaks to refresh your thoughts.
When you are stuck on a problem, taking a walk can help you reset your thoughts and look at the problem in a different light. Sometimes taking a break alone can be enough to solve a problem.
Now you should have the perfect tools and tips to start learning Python coding.
Last but definitely not least, remember to apply for a job early on even if you do not feel ready yet.
11. Apply for the Job Early
Whenever you apply for your first job, you are not going to feel like a job-ready developer.
Make sure to apply for the first job early on in your career. The recruiters understand you are a beginner. In this situation, they are merely interested in your potential, not in the experience.
Besides, it’s important to understand starting a job as a software developer itself is a big learning experience. This happens no matter how good of a developer you are.
When you are learning how to code, there is not much going on. But when you start a new job as a Python developer a lot of things change.
- The business side kicks in.
- Teammates from different backgrounds with different levels of expertise.
- A bunch of paying customers.
- A lot of new best practices and advice.
Anyway, starting a new job is going to require lots of effort no matter how experienced or inexperienced you are.
This is why you should apply as early as possible because it is going to be a big change anyways.
Today you learned how to learn Python from scratch in 2022.
To recap, Python is a high-demand programming skill that can be used in almost any area of software development.
To become a job-ready Python developer in less than 6 months, you have to code every day. The best way to make sure you keep the right track is by joining a Bootcamp or a course taught by software developers in the field.
Do not be a programmer, be a problem solver.
Do not code for the sake of coding. Instead, try to solve real-life problems with code.
Start solving real problems with code as early as possible.
Use version control on your projects.
Build a portfolio of your projects.
After a couple of months of learning, start applying for jobs.
Thanks for reading.
About the Author
- I'm an entrepreneur and a blogger from Finland. My goal is to make coding and tech easier for you with comprehensive guides and reviews.
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