Career changer: Need tips on study method

Hi! My background: I’m 32 years old, a lawyer and piano teacher, but mostly a trailing spouse. I read an article about FCC on The Economist’s 1843 Magazine and decided to give this a try. And I’m truly loving it – I’d say I’m hooked. (I have a love for languages so maybe that explains it).

Well, I’m having a hard time believing that my mind is actually effectively and efficiently absorbing what I’m learning. I go lesson by lesson like a breeze, I read all paragraphs attentively but, am I supposed to be taking notes in my notebook? Should I be revising all classes at the end of everyday?

This is a field of study I have never ventured into before and I don’t know how to go about cementing what I’m learning.

Your advice would be very much appreciated.

Thank you and good week!


Find yourself projects that you can involve yourself in. Your own or someone else’s. The best way for what you learn to cement in is by using it.

Hello @CoderSantissima - everyone learns differently. I understand what you as re saying about absorbing the materials as you breeze through the exercises, but actually building things is where the rubber hits the road.

So build things. As you go through the front end projects don’t hurry. Take your time and make them better, polish them, add something you haven’t covered yet, stretch your abilities. This is where I believe the skills you are learning sink in and start to really all come together as a whole.

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@CoderSantissima - welcome my friend. I’m in much the same boat as you - right down to the lawyer bit, though i now describe myself as a “recovering corporate lawyer”. I’m 37, went into management about 4 years ago (left law) and launched my own startup here in Melbourne (

I absolutely love coding too - and relate to what you’re saying. The thing is that the material is easy to digest, but its a bit like reading how to kitesurf. it all makes sense on paper. until you try it. as @rickstewart says - actually building stuff is where the rubber hits the road. I taught myself java - and then tried to build the initial version of my android app and gave up. my theoretical knowledge simply wasnt up to the task.

Ive had to start over, start from the fundamentals, and slowly laboriously re-learn. Lots of people say - work on projects…but that’s actually harder to do than expected. and it’s very discouraging because (at least where I’m at) not many people in our age group learn to code, and the younger ones would rather code with people their own age. but bit by bit you can overcome that… to my i’ve hard to learn patience, even more then code/syntax/languages. without patience none of the other stuff happens it seems.

If i can help let me know. If you would like to work on something together I’m sure we can come up with something. you can tweet me on at:ZubinPratap
good luck, and dont stop.

I am going to post this listicle to reaffirm the above answers.

Short answer: write lots of code.

I’m going to try to compare learning to program to some of the things you’ve told us about yourself.


You’d be surprised how many former lawyers, law students, and pre-law majors come over to the dark side computer programming. It requires analytical thinking, close attention to detail, and many hours spent getting down in the weeds of something arbitrary. You need to be able to create something while looking at it critically, trying to find vulnerabilities. And it’s hard.


No amount of study matters if you aren’t practicing (close to) every day. While you’re learning, there’s a phase where a lot of what you’re doing is typing what the exercise tells you. That’s an important step in being about to do it on your own.


Memorizing words and grammar is not the same as being fluent. You’ve got to use it. You’ve got to make mistakes. Test the boundaries of your understanding. When you’ve solved a tricky problem, keep poking it. See how much your really understand. Break it and fix it again.


Thanks for this… I would have never thought hand-written code was a thing!

We all learn differently, another suggestion is to find someone to code with (accountability buddy). get on gitter and or find a FCC local group, in my case i did both and lucked out.

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Make an effort to explain every concept you learn in your own words. Pretend that you must teach what you’ve just learned to someone who doesn’t know anything about programming. I find that it helps to write my explanations down, like a journal.

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Dear @ArielLeslie,
Thank you for the time and the thought you’ve taken in drawing parallelisms between my skills and how I can apply these to learning the Art of Coding. I’ll definitely be working on them.
I’m really happy to have found this new goal for myself. And so pleased that this community is such a supportive and positive one!
Have a nice day everyone!

The true and fastest way to learn code is by doing. Get your own webhost and then you can create a few different websites to play with. Then once you learn how to do something new, put it into practice by adding it to one of your “sandbox” play sites.

It’s just like languages. You learn the fastest by being immersed in it. Start learning Spanish? Start talking to every Mexican you can find and you will pick it up faster. Same with coding.

Hope that helps.