Talking the Talk: How to Learn Programming Languages, According to an Industry Expert

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As a tech consulting firm, Cyber Group offers a wide range of services to small- and mid-sized enterprises from a variety of industries. Through tailored, end-to-end support, they help businesses quickly go to market with new products, reduce customer churn and capitalize on machine learning opportunities.

With a specialized focus on retail, energy and financial services, Cyber Group is made up of well-rounded developers who are skilled in various programming languages. Here’s what they do, how they do it and some insider advice on how to break into the industry. 

What languages are important to know? 

Sebastian Labrador is a principal consultant at Cyber Group. He wears many hats, but primarily works on bringing an exciting digital experience and integration platform to market. “I help cast the vision for the product and work with internal teams and external partners to get things done,” he said.

With such a diverse pool of clients, Cyber Group employees need to have a firm grasp of several programming languages. “A few common languages you’ll see in our environment are C#, Java and JavaScript,” he said. “Whether you’re working with a compiled language like Java or interpreted language like JavaScript, it’s important to employ the proper, well-known framework for each language.”

For example, programmers using JavaScript should be familiar with Express.js to build backend APIs. They should also be well-versed in frontend frameworks, like Angular and React, to build seamless and easy end-user experiences.

As the industry continues to change, so do the ways in which we teach and learn new technologies. Early programming languages become less relevant, and developers are always looking for ways to improve their offerings to create the best user experiences.

Despite the bad rap C# has had in recent years, Sebastian acknowledges that Microsoft has done great work with programming languages recently. “For our full stack developers, it’s easy to switch between TypeScript and C#, which is a game changer,” he said.

At Cyber Group, development teams enjoy building a culture around their preferred tech suite — something that Sebastian believes is critical to their success. Since Cyber Group uses C#, Sebastian feels this is an important programming language to know. “That being said, if I were in a Java shop, I’d recommend Java,” he said. 

How does someone learn a programming language? 

With an abundance of educational resources at their disposal, modern developers couldn’t ask for a better time to break into the tech industry. “Anyone can learn how to code these days,” said Sebastian. “Even my kids can get on Scratch and write code visually.”

That’s not to say coding is simple or painless, though. Programming is challenging and requires both critical thinking and problem solving skills — but the challenges that come with being a developer are rewarding.

“Don’t give up, especially when you’re dragging yourself through it,” said Sebastian. “Try mixing the drag with pleasure by applying what you’re learning to a project that you’re passionate about.”

For new developers who are just getting started, there are tons of resources — and people — available to help you get your footing. 

“Build up a network of developer friends who are willing to help. There’s a hidden half of being a professional software developer that no one is telling you about,” said Sebastian. “Build your own brand around your journey. Make your own name and own the stack you’re passionate about — from novice to expert.”

Beyond having a solid foundation of technical expertise, programmers must also possess a desire to problem solve through setbacks. “You’ll have to learn how to be a systems thinker with a positive attitude towards possibilities,” said Sebastian.

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