I’ve been interested and learning programming for most of my life, since I was 11 years old tinkering with RPG Maker and dreaming of being a full time game developer.
Fast-forward 12 years in the future, two years into the best job I could ever hope for, a lot learned along the way and a lot more to learn in the future. Two years might not seem like a lot, but working for a startup made a lot of difference, being exposed to new technologies and having people to support me while I was learning.
Knowing that you don’t know
Looking back with the power of hindsight my biggest lesson was that there is so much I don’t actually know. At that time I had been programming for 10 years, if you call the first few years as actually programming, I had tested the waters with Java, C, C++ and occasionally web development.
The main focus of most of my time learning was to create a game that I would enjoy and call mine, quite common among gamers that go into programming. But a mistake I repeated time and time again was to doubt my own abilities. I would start over 100 times, trying to find a better solution, watched hundreds of videos and tutorials, but always beginner level, and that was my biggest mistake, not exposing myself to more advanced programming made me stagnant for a long time.
Do… or do not. There is no try.
* Tutorials are great, but actually doing stuff is even better.
The tipping point of my programming career came in the form of Open Source software, two years into my undergrad I enrolled in a program to “foster open source software development”, that was the first time I had to tackle a codebase larger than a dozen files, with a clear goal and being exposed to code that wasn’t written by me. A couple months after that I landed my first real programming job.
Knowing how to search what you don’t know
One of the most important tools of the job has to be Google (or DDG!), but it’s one of the hardest to actually get it right, knowing what and how to ask something is actually more important than trying, and failing, to know everything by heart, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of tasks that are deeply ingrained in your memory and you will be able to correctly execute them till the end of your life, but the rest you should google.