One advice for all programmers

Find your tribe

I have given numerous talks and a multitude of interviews to date, and one question that always comes up, almost every single time, is that what is THE one advice I would give to any budding programmer. When one asks that question, they are generally looking for some life-changing mantra and I have just the answer to that. 

Sangat se Gun aat h, Sangat se Gun Jaat - or, for you millenials, A man is known by the company he keeps. No, I don’t mean companies that one works for, no Microsoft, no Google or any such thing, what I mean is that you get better by being around good people. And likewise, you get worse by being around bad people. 

Let’s suppose you are a gamer (which I know that most of you are). You watch gaming streams, you spend time with fellow gamers, and then one day, you realize that you now know all those tricks and tips of your favorite game. That is basically how it works. Your aspiration to grow and get better increases and pushes you forward. We have a neoG camp server where we have 300 students, not a very huge number, but every single one of them is amazing. One of them makes a project, the others see that and feel motivated to do the same, and the cycle continues.

In all my interactions with students from every kind of college in this country, the only thing that students lack today is motivation, and they try to search for that motivation outwardly in social media influencers and motivational speakers. But you don’t need any of that, what you need is just one group of people working towards a common goal. However, the sad reality of India is that in the colleges of this country, you can get a group for gaming, another group to bodybuild, groups to do Things-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named (looking at you Potterheads!) and whatnot. Getting a programming group is absolutely challenging. 

If you ask anyone who has cracked into any of those dream companies, or how they got into competitive programming or web development or anything else, you will get only one answer and the exact same answer, we had a college group, and hence, it was a lot of fun to learn together. So coming back to the question we started out with, the answer is that FIND YOUR TRIBE, your tribe of programming. Now, how do you do that? There are multiple groups around India for that very purpose: Google Developer Groups, Facebook Developer Circles, Apple Groups, and groups by Microsoft as well. Be a part of any of these groups and find some like-minded people who share the same goals as you. But there’s a caution. Do not become a part of a group or an event that promises a certificate, as a majority section of the crowd there has come just for the sake of the certificate to be put on their resumes. We do not want that. You need such a group for yourself where the first priority among its members is always learning and the growth of skills. 

One thing that you can do in the present COVID situation where everything is happening online is to join the #teamTanay discord server which has around 10000+ programmers spread across the country. I will be honest that not everyone in the group is active but those who are are worth everything. Take a look at the #shareyourwork channel and you will see that there is always a product being built. Ask a question about a program and you can get your answer straight from its author. You can use the voice channel, share your screen while coding, or even give a try to pair programming. In case you are still unsure about where to go, there are multiple other Discord servers as well, like the one from FreeCodeCamp. 

I believe I have made my point clear to you. So before we bid adieu, for the time being, I would reiterate what I have said throughout this letter: The first step to becoming a better programmer is to find your good programming group.