Your Step-By-Step Guide To Learning How To Code And Getting A Job In This Lousy Economy

bruce rails

Photo: Things Well Made

The economy sucks. Why not pick up a new skill and collect some nice pay as a web developer?Being well-versed in Ruby on Rails can make you a fearsome candidate for a high-paying tech job. It’s a programming language used to build web applications, and it’s been driving serious web development for the past few years.

Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve probably interacted with it. Basecamp, Campfire, and Twitter are just a few of the notable applications that have been created with the robust tools that RoR offers.

Nate Westheimer, friend and contributor to Business Insider, has outlined what he calls the HoPE Manifesto, a list of resources and a method to teach yourself a programming language in a short time. What follows are several of his suggestions and some of our own. So go get hired.

Before we begin...

Here are some quotes from experienced programmers on how they got started.

DHH: 'I learned Ruby by programming in anger. Attempting to make something real. Not just a toy program.'

Evan Phoenix: 'reading code WHILE writing code'

Tim Connor: 'the rails community habit of obsessively blogging was probably the biggest help'

Source: Ruby on Rails Blog

And some advice from the pros

Bob Martens: 'Get involved in the community in some way. They know more than you. ;)'

Luke Burton: 'basic screencasts showing something impressive being achieved in small amounts of code were a great start'

Chris Wanstrath: 'Stop asking other people for advice and start coding something.'

Why you should start with Rails

In his HoPE Manifesto (Hacking-cOding Product Executive), Nate Westheimer outlines a tough regimen to hold yourself to when you begin learning to code. Here's why he personally decided to start with Ruby on Rails:

'I went with Rails for 2 reasons. The first may not apply to you: I had some exposure to Ruby on Rails in my past startups, so while still a mystery to me at first it felt slightly familiar. The main reason I went with Rails -- and why you should consider going with Rails -- is because of the unparalleled resources for beginners out there.'

Source: HoPE Manifesto

Commit to the sweat lodge

Westheimer encourages newbies to devote a solid week of learning to code. As he puts it:

'If you think you can learn how to code by going to a few classes, being 'taught' or sitting down for an hour or so every so often, you're 100% wrong and will waste your time. If you truly want to learn how to code (or learn any other new skill, for that matter) you must find some serious time to dedicate to the cause. And the cause is teaching yourself, not being taught.'

Source: The HoPE Manifesto

Your curriculum for the week

Working through a book will help round out your knowledge

Andrei Shevtsov from Business Insider's own tech team recommends picking up Rails 3 in Action.

Once you learn it, keep up with it

After you make it through your week of learning to code, you need to stay on top and keep your skills sharp. Railscasts is an amazing resource filled with screencasts that walk you through a number of subtleties about Rails.

Now that you're a pro, here's what you can create

You can build a scaled-down Reddit clone with your sharp new coding skills.

Source: Ideas on Rails

Taking your skills further

Why not make your own Twitter-like service?

Source: Noupe

Get hired!

You're officially a solid Ruby on Rails programmer. Start sending out those updated resumes and cash in on your new skills.

Start with indeed.com. It's like Google for jobs, and it's really useful. If you're not looking for full-time, try searching for people needing Rails coders on Freelancer.com -- you'll build contacts and improve your skills.

All that's left after that is to earn some cash.

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