I know. I know. I know. There are dozens of articles talking about all these amazing new websites and bootcamps where people can become engineers overnight if they are willing to put in the hard work. While there are some incredible resources out there today, there is still a huge education gap between what you might learn from playing a game on Code.org and running through a tutorial on Codecademy and the real world skills a working developer needs to succeed. However, with the right amount of patience and mindset, you can utilize these resources to become a professional developer FOR FREE. I know, because I did it myself.
Dash by General Assembly
In my 4 years of being an online hackademic, I have never found a tutorial site as easy to use, fun to use, and offer both practical and impractical exercises that can teach the basics of Web Design for FREE.
Covering the basics of HTML to building live websites, Codecademy has proved itself to be a great resource to learn the essential elements of every popular programming language.
CodeSchool (Free intro lessons)
Through interactive videos, downloadable slides, and challenges, Codeschool offers fun and thorough courses on almost any language you can think of.
Taught by real engineers working for Facebook, Google, and Amazon, Udacity offers incredible “real world skills” classes on a huge variety of Silicon Valley-esque topics from starting your business to making an android app from scratch. Each course teaches the subject through short video explanations, quizzes, and a final project that you can add to a portfolio later. Don’t be fooled by the heavy focus on their costly nanodegree programs. Every course on Udacity is free. Just select “catalog” and filter option “free” to view them and start learning.
Real World Practice
Unlike what your mother may have told you, not all videogames rot your brain. In fact, some, like CodinGame, can even make it bigger. CodinGame offers a variety of traditional videogames, that players can win through writing code. Just pick your language and level and you’re ready to go.
If CodinGame is too advanced for you, or you just don’t like playing videogames, then check out CodeChef. Not only is it perfect for beginners, it offers an easy to follow guide to becoming an expert through incremental improvement of your abilities.
If you want to be able to prepare for job interviews with tech company big wigs like Facebook and Google, you should take sometime to watch and read through Khan Academy’s section on algorithms taught by Carnegie Mellon
Harvard’s Intro to Computer Science class was so popular that it was one of first classes they made available in the launch of their free online education website, edx.org. Now thousands of people around the world can bring the Harvard classroom, into their living room (or tablet or phone).
Don’t like reading or Harvard? Then check out the cute cartoon explanations of data structures at Algosaur.
For those who don’t like reading, Harvard, or cute cartoons apparently (you monster), check out animated demonstrations of how algorithms work at VisuAlgo
If you follow all (or any of these steps), I’m sure you’ll find yourself becoming a “real” programmer in no time.