So you just finished your first course (or couple courses) on intro to programming. Learned all of your data types, conditionals, functions, possibly even some OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) and a data structure or two. Hopefully, you spent hours on your final project, perfecting every piece, requirement, and objective, and tested every possible case to ensure there are no bugs. Great job. The question now is,
Where do I go from here?
If your class was anything like mine, all of your programs were just running in the console window. After my class was complete, I was stuck on what to do next. Potential employers won’t care that you know how to make a toy program that displays on the console, they want to see that you can develop real world products. The problem, though, is that your class only taught you how to write an advanced Hello World! program. To get out of this “Hello World” phase, you need to develop real software. But what do I build?
This is where you now need to go outside of your textbook. You learned the basics of programming, now you need to learn the basics of development for whatever platform you choose. You don’t have to use the same language you learned in school either. You probably used either C++, Java, or Python - these are all C based languages, so converting over to another C language won’t be difficult at all. The real challenge is learning how to develop for a particular platform. You need to choose what you want to build. It doesn’t matter what it is, just something you’re able to show to potential employees to say “Hey, I built this, and you can actually see it and use it here.”
The easiest solution for this is either to build a mobile application or a web application (I may be biased). Mobile applications are great to develop because you can bring it with you where ever you go, it’s always readily available to show off. Just whip out your phone and start marketing yourself. The same goes for web applications, they’re always online for you to access from anywhere. There are plenty of free resources to learn how to develop applications for iOS, Android, or the web. You can view my list here of free resources to learning any language or platform. If you have the funds, buying a good intro to [enter your platform] book can never hurt. The important part is to just start. Find a good tutorial on Google, or YouTube (go with Bucky), or buy a book from Amazon with really good reviews, and start learning how to build real applications.