Original question from Quora:
What is the best advice you can give to a junior programmer?
If there was one thing I would tell every programmer it is this…
Well, before I tell you what that thing is, I need to relate a quick story that I believe will help you more than a pithy one liner will.
When I was like 10 years old I got incredibly interested in computers and the idea of programming computers. Boxed software, video games, operating systems, all of that stuff was just so cool.
I was the kid who would go to the local computer store and look at boxes of Mandrake Linux and Red Hat and think they were just so cool. I would sit at Staples and look at every different kind of software there was.
It was all so interesting.
In 1995 we got a Packard Bell computer that ran Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. It had a Pentium 66 Mhz processor, 8 MB of RAM, a CD-ROM drive, and a 500 MB hard drive.
I loved that computer and I knew I wanted to write software for it.
So back then, the best solution I could come up with was to go to the local bookstore and buy Teach Yourself C in 21 days. (Thanks mom!)
I devoured that book. And I wrote code. I was terrible and most of the time things wouldn’t compile for reasons that took forever to understand.
Note: I didn’t have a fancy text editor. I had NOTEPAD.EXE. It didn’t do syntax highlighting and forgetting semicolons made for a bad day.
So it was real tough to learn to code, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t know it could be easier. I just made up stuff to code and coded it.
I wrote a lot of silly text based calculator type apps and things. Eventually I found the Allegro graphics library and started making my own games. I was maybe 13 or 14 at the time.
For whatever reason this was something I would just do without any prompting or pushing from my parents or teachers. I just loved to make things.
This strange habit of building things with code continued for the next twenty or so years until today when I get paid to do this all day long as a Senior Software Engineer at a successful software company.
And yet, I find myself still with that strange habit of building things and learning things pretty much all the time. Nobody tells me I have to be doing that kind of thing outside of work. I just do.
I really enjoy the process of writing code, getting better at writing code, solving my own problems, and just building stuff.
I can’t really explain why, but I love it.
If I was an accountant or lawyer all day long, I’m pretty sure I’d go home and write code and build things for fun.
So, to all junior developers out there I would say…
…fall in love with the process of writing code and building things all the time.
That seems to have the biggest impact on everything else.
P.S. Have you subscribed to Code Career Genius yet?