Good problem solver, have to look up everything!

I have been attempting to learn to code on and off for several years. I started with VBA and SQL as I needed them for work at one time. I realised I enjoyed solving problems with code and wanted to learn more. I discovered FCC and thought learning web development would be useful and fun. I followed the tutorials but found I had to “cheat” to complete the projects by looking things up. I also didn’t understand the point and lost interest without any “real” application for what I was learning.

After a bit of a gap, I was asked to take on a “real” project - to create an interactive web form for a club. I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a go as no-one else was volunteering and thought it might be a good way to learn. I was right, it seems I learn best when there is a purpose. I’ve learned loads as different problems have come along and I have worked out how to solve them. I’ve discovered what JSON is and what AJAX can be used for, among other things. Thing is, I have to look up everything! It’s like I can see what I need to do, but always have to look up how to do it. I understand the logic, and I can adapt code I find online or already have to solve new problems, I just can’t write code from scratch (except maybe something very basic.)

I would love to work as a developer but I don’t think I could pass a coding test. Would being a good problem solver who knows how to use code be enough to work in the field? Even if I don’t know loads of code? Is being good at Googling enough? Or should I just stick to doing it as a hobby to help people out?

being good at googling is a must. you will need to practice a lot so that if you go to an interview and are challenged with a whiteboard interview or something like that you are able to remember some basic things, but for doing real work, if you don’t google multiple times per hour in search of something you may be doing something wrong, maybe you are sticking with things too easy, and you are not improving

I think that what you’re missing is experience. Yes, in most cases being a developer involves having access to Google and knowing how to use it is a necessary skill. We still look things up frequently. But as in all things, repetition brings familiarity. Before trying to jump into the interview process I would suggest building several more projects - big, small, important, silly, whatever. Not only will a lot of the syntax become second-nature, but you’ll also come to recognize patterns for solving similar types of problems programmatically.

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Thanks! It’s reassuring to know I am doing the right things, I just need to do more! I find that the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know! That can be disheartening. But it is starting to become more familiar, so I guess I just need to stick at it. I definitely learn best through useful projects so I will try to find some more. I am not in a position to change careers at the moment, so it will remain a hobby/voluntary job for now. Seems like I could do with more practice anyway!

I read this joke some time ago where someone wrote a script which, if the developer was stuck, would automatically go through Stack Overflow and copy paste code snippets from there until the problem was solved. Maybe it was on XKCD.

Anyway, I think it shows that a large part of being any sort of programmer is knowing how to find things that you don’t know. Plus, it’s very common that it’s easier to learn when you are actually trying to achieve something tangible. In short, I would say you are on the right track.

I’m also a side dabbler and keep finding SO much to learn. I keep thinking “I will do this one thing 'til it’s good enough to share” but then I keep realizing it could be better if it did this other thing too… which I need to learn to do… but I’m so grateful there are places and people who will help, and … I’ve kept a bit of a diary as I learn things on a Google Doc at first because I’d forget stuff but it has the side effect of making me realize how much more I know this week than I did a week ago.
Keep on doing :slight_smile: