So you’ve discovered Java, and have decided to skill up in this ubiquitous, extremely popular, and highly in-demand programming language. Congratulations! You’ve already taken your first step to becoming a Java pro.
However, becoming a top-notch Java developer means avoiding mistakes that can cost time, money, and, most importantly for you, your reputation. This all begins with your approach to learning.
Here are the most common mistakes that budding programmers make when setting out on their Java learning journeys.
1. Too much theory, not enough practice
Reading books and watching video tutorials will always be a necessary component of your Java learning. But be careful not to overdo it. Like learning to swim, drive a car, or play a musical instrument, Java coding is a practical skill that is best learnt by doing. While passive learning might seem easier, you simply won’t remember an entire book’s worth of knowledge after the first read. Instead, look to constantly apply your learning and it will have a much better chance of sinking in.
2. Studying without goals
Some people like learning simply for the sake of learning. However, this approach is more suited to hobbies than to careers. Rather, take time to consider what type of Java role you’d eventually like to have. Review current job advertisements, and note their technical requirements. Next, set yourself small, incremental learning targets – these will help you maintain focus, give you a sense of accomplishment as you progress, and also keep you motivated.
3. Not testing your code as you go
Programming mistakes will happen. But don’t wait until you’ve finished coding to try to find out what’s gone wrong – there may be more than you realize. Humans learn best in small increments rather than all at once. Therefore, by testing your code regularly you will learn Java faster and get into good coding habits.
4. Learning too many technologies at once.
With a complex array of software development tools and technologies on the market, it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed. However, it is important to stick to your intended Java learning goals, focus on the fundamentals, and create a dedicated learning plan to schedule your Java education. An excellent way to achieve all this is through the Oracle Java Core learning subscription, which offers 24/7 access to step-by-step training on core concepts, language constructs, and data types – and where you will learn best practices from Java in-house experts.
5. Taking extended breaks in your learning
It’s important to get into the habit of daily learning, and this is especially true at the beginning of your Java journey. If you leave it too long between learning sessions you will easily forget material that you may need to refer to later on. Learning (and practicing) every day keeps your existing knowledge fresh in your mind, and therefore makes it easier and faster to learn more.
6. Learning in isolation
Learning with and from others has several added benefits, from improving your communication and team working skills to developing your personal and professional network – all of which greatly improve your future job prospects. Reach out to the Oracle Java Community, for example, which has millions of members and a multitude of ways to help you with your learning.
7. Forgetting to nurture auxiliary skills
Possessing a wealth of Java knowledge is certainly integral to becoming a top Java programmer. However, don’t forget to develop other skills and attributes that employers always look for – such as problem-solving, abstract thinking, self-motivation, and, especially for senior developers, strong communication abilities.
8. Getting bogged down on one learning subject
Spending too much time on a single Java topic that you have problems grasping can be counter-productive. Remember that no one person will ever know everything about Java. Your learning time is valuable, so if you are getting really stuck on something, move on to a different topic and return to it later.
9. Not making your code easily readable
Do you sometimes have problems reading your own handwriting? We’ve all been there: you scribble notes in a hurry and later find that you cannot make any sense of what you have written. The same can be true of coding. Take the time and effort to write good, clean, readable code. Remember that the vast majority of Java programmers work in teams, and you don’t want to be ‘that one person’ whose code is always difficult to understand.
10. Not validating your learning
Your newly-learned Java skills won’t count for much if you are not able to highlight them to potential employers. The optimum way to do this is to get properly accredited – for example through Java SE 11 Developer 2019 certification. Pursuing certification is not only a best-practices pathway to learning Java, it is an extremely valuable addition to promoting your qualifications or aiding in your job search - especially if you do not have years of programming experience.
Overall, it is your approach to learning that will determine your success with Java.