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S1E3: Why you should focus on fundamentals first with Chris Lee

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In today's episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I talk with Chris Lee. Chris is one of the founders of Launch School, an online program that helps people become software developers.

Chris took a traditional path to programming. He studied information systems and computer science in college. He worked at IBM for five years before transitioning to a tech startup, then moved on to Launch School. Chris talks about establishing a long-term approach to programming instead of getting distracted by the ever-changing landscape of software development.

We get to hear from Chris about learning from fundamentals, and how taking your time and working towards mastery now will provide greater benefits down the road. Chris highlights the importance of understanding core principles and developing logical thinking habits. He also advises programmers to build projects that showcase a full range of skills in order to appeal to ideal employers.

Key takeaways:

  • Master things that don't change, like the underlying technologies have been around for 20 years. When you understand the core principles, you can learn anything.
  • When learning, a structured program is beneficial in that it shows you when it's time to move forward to the next concept. Mastery, rather than time spent, should be the goal.
  • Programming is about learning how to think systematically and logically. You have to develop a fanatical attention to detail. Learning a language isn't enough, you need to grasp the mental model of how the language works.
  • Don't start by learning the frameworks. Learn from fundamentals and take your time. Don't get tempted or sidetracked by the new, shiny thing.
  • If your goal is to build the skills necessary for a 20-year career, you don't want to focus just on what's hot today.
  • The more you know, the more leverage you have, and the more you can demand in your work experience.
  • Target the job you want, and then build something that shows what you're capable of with that job in mind.
  • Having a long term mindset eases anxiety. Spending a year or two learning has value when you have a long career in front of you.

Links and mentions from the episode:

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