Escaping Tutorial Misery

Nicholas
June 16, 2021

At the rate technology advances and changes, something that has become a popular method of learning is online tutorials. While these can quickly get someone up to speed on a topic, it can be challenging to cross the bridge from tutorial to actually executing the task.

When I was first searching for internships, one of the qualities that made interning at Arcurve so enticing was the promise to throw us right into the mix of things and get us actually doing real work. Having heard of horror stories from upper year friends of spending their internships slaving away in excel or setting up computers, I knew I was up for the challenge of getting hands on experience. Now, having been here a few months, I can attest to the fact that Arcurve doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk, too and I’ve been getting my hands dirty since day one.

For me, the scary thing about getting thrown into a tech stack I have zero experience with is not having the time to watch hours worth of online tutorials. But, they say the best experiences are the scariest ones, right? I’ve quickly learned that the best way to start writing code is to dive right in and learn on the fly.

In the past, when I wanted to learn a new technology I would find a tutorial series on YouTube/Udemy and follow along. Even though some of these video series can be up to 70 hrs long, just watching them or even coding along with them never provided me the skills to produce code that wasn’t directly taken from the tutorial. And, even if these video series were able to provide the skills I needed to start writing lines of code, spending the entire first week of an internship simply watching how to videos isn’t exactly ideal.

One reason I had a tough time with producing code after just watching tutorials is that watching someone do something is not the same as doing it yourself. It’s relatively easy sit back and watch someone else do the thing, but you don’t gain an understanding until you experience doing it yourself. This rings especially true with coding tutorials. Coding along with someone else doesn’t provide the depth of understanding that actually figuring it out on your own does.

The best way to learn is by making mistakes, right? That’s good, because learning on the fly involves making A LOT of mistakes. The room to make these mistakes and then learn why they happened, and how not to make the same mistake, undeniably speeds up the learning process. While tutorials feel like a safe place to learn, especially considering it’s tough to make mistakes when someone is holding your hand. The amount of knowledge you actually retain starts to decline. I used to get stuck here, as I would constantly put off the mistake-making process that’s actually inevitable in writing code. I’ve since learned that the quicker you take the leap and start doing, the quicker you’ll start learning.

So… the point is, while I used to believe that after completing 70-hour video series I would have enough knowledge to create whatever I wanted within the realm of the tech stack covered, I now know that was far from the truth.. While online tutorials are a great base, they didn’t give me the skills I needed to accomplish the actual doing part. I’ve realized now, the best way to start writing your own code is to jump right into learning on the fly.

Read about more of our student experiences, what we’re learning and what we’re getting stuck on on the Arcurve Student Feed.

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