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5 Personality Traits Every New Programmer Should Have

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Are there personality traits that can make one better equipped to be a programmer than others?

The following guest post by Chris Kite looks at just that. Chris is a self-taught programmer/entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience.

In the following article Chris talks about five computer programmer personality traits that helped him become a successful programmer. Check it out and enjoy!

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My first taste of programming came in the year 2000. Sort of prophetic sounding, but it was much more innocent than that. I was a year out of college, with a Marketing degree, and just landed a great job at a Fortune 500 as an IT Support Analyst.

What is that? Basically, it's an entry level grunt position that handles support tickets by taking a request from the user and walking it over to the developer to fix. Sounds like a movie you may have heard of? During my “handling” of these tickets, I was introduced to the people who could actually fix the problems, the developers.

Prior to this, my experience with computers was typing word documents. I had zero interest in learning how to code or understanding the inner workings of a computer.

However, that all changed when I saw someone pull up a terminal session, edit a script with VI, run a query in the database and tell me it was fixed in about 30 seconds. I was in awe. Once I got comfortable enough at the new job, I annoyed everyone with questions about programming instead of doing my real job.

I finally found what I wanted to do–this was my passion. (As you'll see, passion is one of a few traits I later realized had helped me become a programmer and an entrepreneur.)

Moreover, I have always felt that if I could learn to program, anyone can.

Why? Certainly not because I'm smart: I was never a scholar.

But simply because I had patience, courage, passion, creativity and applied logic whenever possible. These five traits are what allowed me to learn to program and I'm positive they can help you as well.

Let's take a closer look at each and how I was able to use them to help me learn how to code.

1. A Programmer Should Have Patience

To me, this is the most important trait.

Programmers must have patience

Sure, you must have the desire to learn or be financially motivated. But if you are not patient enough to deal with the adversity that comes with learning to code, your desire will fade.

I compare this to learning how to play guitar and learning graphic design. I had the passion to learn to play guitar, and I was successful because I was patient. I had zero passion to learn graphic design, but I stuck with it and eventually learned enough to do what I needed.

You must learn to accept frustration as a means to an end.

2. Moreover, They Should Have Courage

As you become more familiar with a language,

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will eventually look like:

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An old saying my mentor programmers liked to tell me was, “It's easy if you know how”. This was fun for them, but frustrating for me at the time. Yet what it taught me was things would get better if I stuck with it.

Most people are intimidated when they see their first lines of code and I was no different. I found that trying to understand the syntax first just to begin to decipher the logic is an overwhelming task. This alone can make one fear code.

That's why having the courage to put fears aside and understand that it is just another language is important when conquering the barriers that prevent many from getting started. At CodeConquest.com we help break down your fears by keeping it simple. After all, fear stems from a lack of understanding.

3. Like Any Profession, Passion is a Must

Why do you want to learn to programming? To be cool? To get a better job? Or because you like to solve problems and build things?

Passion can come from all of those, but if it is the latter, you are probably on the right track. Most programmers are engineers and have an inherent desire to build, disassemble, question, problem solve and conquer challenges that others cannot. They do this because they like to, not because a paycheck is involved.

Passion is what will keep you up all night until you solve a problem. Passion will keep you working nights and weekends to learn or create when others are relaxing on the couch.

Without a burning desire to learn, your attempt to grasp programming concepts will be very challenging. Be honest with yourself and start your journey when you are truly ready.

4. Creativity is a Key Component of Programming, Too

By learning to code, you give yourself an opportunity to let your creativity shine.

programming is creative

There are several ways to solve a programmatic task and it is up to you to solve the puzzle to get the job done.

Does it need to be efficient? Does it need to be easy to maintain? Does it need to be abstract? These can all affect the way you write code, but in the end, the most important piece of the puzzle is “Does it get the job done?”

This has always been my priority. Sure, my code could be more efficient and easier to maintain. However, I like to spend time using my creativity to take existing content and make it unique through data manipulation, creating display algorithms to improve monetization, writing shell scripts to automate repeatable tasks, and so forth. You, too, can put a personal touch on your code because there are many ways to get the job done.

A caveat to creativity in programming is that you must have a working knowledge of a language and programming principles before you can effectively be “creative”. In order to think in a fashion that allows you to see the options available, you must know how things work.

In other words, you must know what is possible before you can put the pieces together. But, as you grasp concepts and learn more fundamentals, light bulbs will flash and you will see opportunities unfold.

This awakening is your creative mind putting together all the possibilities that your new knowledge has provided. Keep feeding your mind and you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of creating.

5. And, Of Course, a Programmer Should Have Logic

Being a logical thinker is key in your path to becoming an established programmer. After all, once you understand computers follow basic rules of logic in order to do their job, you will see there is always an answer to a problem. You just have to use logic to figure it out.

programmers must exhibit logic

There is no magic or outside interference other than the variables at hand. Breaking a problem down into small pieces and following a set of rules, much like a computer does, will help you learn programming syntax, debugging, tuning (making code efficient), design and much more. Don't overwhelm yourself with noise, keep it simple and think logically.

I'm reminded constantly of this when I run into a problem that I have spent an hour or two trying to figure out. About the time I'm ready to throw in the towel, I make myself get up and take a break. 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever – just step away. It never fails.

After I get rid of the noise (frustration and illogical thoughts) and think with a clear head, I always figure out the problem. It sometimes takes a reset to allow your brain to play within the rules of the game again.

Conclusion

These are the personality traits that have defined my career as a programmer. I conquered my fear and followed my passion to become a developer at a Fortune 500 because I spent my nights and weekends learning how to code on my own.

From there, my self-taught programming skills enabled me to co-found a business that drove millions of visitors through my code because I knew there were more opportunities as a business owner. Today the sky is the limit with the amount of API's, open data, and tools that make coding simpler than ever before.

If you embody the traits I listed above, I believe you have what it takes to become a successful programmer.

What do you think about the five personality traits Chris talks about? Let me know in the comments below!

About Chris Kite

Chris Kite is a self taught programmer/entrepreneur with over 12 years experience with various languages including PHP, MySQL, Java, Oracle, Javascript, etc. He is the owner of CodeConquest.com, a site dedicated to helping beginners learn how to code through simple concepts and practical application.

Feature image via VFS Digital Design, Flickr.


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