Often when I tell people I haven’t really started programming till my time at the university, they won’t believe me. And while I performed well at programming tasks from the beginning of my life as a Bioinformatics student, this is mostly true. But I’m not here today to talk about that, I’m here to talk about the other half of the truth. The programming I did before I was a student or in other words my humble beginnings as a programmer
Well. As I’m a little bit older, there hasn’t been much programming during my schooldays. Actually, the only time we programmed sometime was in ninth grade in our math class. We had an old teacher, who was an early computer enthusiast. And so when we were done with the subject matter for the year, we did some programming in Turbo Pascal. If you don’t know, Turbo Pascal is an out of fashion programming language, that as far as I know was developed for teaching purposes.
Although we didn’t do great things in it, we at least learnt some concepts. As far as I remember we just had to implement a program, that printed out all the primes from one to one hundred. Because I was done with it pretty quickly, I brought some programming books from my dad to class. Those books contained code for computer games written in Turbo Pascal. Yep… That was actually a thing in the 80’s to 90’s! But I didn’t get far. Do you know how bothersome it is to copy paste pages of code the old school way?
So yep… That wasn’t really my beginnings as a programmer. I mean, I learnt something, but it didn’t really get me motivated to continue learning on my own. And a little bit of time passed till my next attempt.
Beginnings As A Programmer On My Own
When I was about eighteen, the story continued. I was just about finishing middle school, having my first girlfriend and so on. Besides that I played the MMORPG World of Warcraft. But while I started playing on the official servers, at some point of time I started playing on a private shard called Lordearon. For the Warcraft fans amongst you: NO that was not a writing error at my cost. That was actually the name of the server. Playing there it didn’t take long for me to become a gamemaster (GM). For your information, Lordearon was run as a project of some students. So they didn’t have much time and resources and therefore needed help in managing the server.
During this time I learnt a little bit of PHP, which was used in conjunction with SQL to run the server. And to fix bugs it was useful to able to write small scripts. I didn’t really do this for long, but still I learnt some stuff mostly on my own. And that some computer science students trusted me enough to give me GM and even some admin rights, gave me self confidence.
Just Playing Around
After some time had passed I got the idea, that I had to learn C. Well, it was shortly after I broke up with my then-girlfriend. So I had a lot of newly gained free time and this wasn’t my only project I started during this time. I found a nice online tutorial for learning C back then, which I followed a bit. And then I programmed some easy programs for doing some calculations for the laboratory… Nothing special, just simple arithmetic.
Unfortunately I didn’t follow those beginnings as a programmer furthermore. But even if I did only the basics and no algorithms and stuff, I think I laid down a valuable foundation. Then came my second-chance education, where I did my high school degree. During this time I was used to capacity with school. However I improved my math capabilities a lot along the way, which is important for programming.
Before My Student Life
After I finished my high school degree (Abitur) I had some months of free time until my time at the university began. And luckily I choose to spend some of it on online courses. While some of them were about statistics and maths in general, others were about programming basics. And I noticed that I should’ve started with something like that much earlier, because I liked it. Again, I didn’t learn any hard concepts, but those basics helped me to focus on the hard problems later at the university.
So this is also, what I would advise you, if you’re planning on studying a computer science related program. You don’t need to know the hard concepts, but most lectures won’t give you the time to understand the basics of programming like loops and conditional statements. Additionally, it is also of advantage to know how to read and write data. That’s something I didn’t learn before uni. While those are rather easy concepts, if you compare them to other ones you learn as a computer scientist, if you have never done such a thing, you could struggle a bit at first.
Nowadays there’s really this big advantage, that there are so many for free resources out there, that can help you to learn programming on your own. So there’s really no reason not to do so. And even if you just play around a bit, like I did, it will help you to face future challenges. Just always keep in mind, that it’s important to be comfortable with the basics in programming to solve harder problems. Everybody has to start small and if you do it for yourself, you don’t need to be perfect. Also nobody is perfect! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this little story about my beginnings as a programmer. If you need some advise on this topic of starting to learn programming, you can just write me. So that I can make posts about topics, that might help you.
Until then, have a good one!