Notes for our introductory courses
This page outlines what you can reasonably expect from our introductory programming courses.
GBdirect's Introductory Courses
Our introductory courses (in particular for PHP and Perl) regularly attract the interest of delegates who have never seriously used a programming language before. Alternatively, sometimes employers have a specific goal in mind and want someone to learn how to do it. We are are usually asked "what will I be able to achieve at the end of the course" or "will I be able to perform task X or Y at the end". Unfortunately it's very hard for us to to give answers other than "it depends" because that's the honest answer.
Don't consider one of these courses if you only have a single project to undertake or a specific feature that you want to add to some existing software. If you have a single task like that, get a consultant instead (we may be able to help, so give us a call). Our courses are for people who intend to program regularly and do a lot of self-study after taking the course, making a full or part-time career out of it.
If you are contemplating undertaking a career change that involves programming and aren't sure if you are suited to it, here are some bullet points we ask you to consider in depth before choosing to commit one way or the other.
- Some people take easily to programming, others don't. We can't predict in advance who those are, but an affinity for spoken languages (perhaps an unusually good command of your mother tongue, or you find it easy to learn foreign languages) is a good sign. If you find most 'technical' things easy to learn then programming is likely to be one of those skills that you take in your stride.
- General intellectual curiosity helps. If you read widely, enjoy discussing the arts, literature and politics with your friends and don't mind putting in hours of study on things you want to get good at, then programming is probably going to feel fairly easy to pick up.
- If you love thought-problems and puzzles programming will probably feel like fun to do.
- Programming is logical but not terribly mathematical. Don't be afraid of it if you found maths tricky at school, there is rarely a lot of mathematical content to most programming.
- There are two skills involved in programming: there is the the art of programming and the other is familiarity with the programming language (such as PHP or Perl). Once you have learned the art of programming, switching languages is usually much easier. For beginners you will find two challenges on an introductory course, the art and the language. This doubles the challenge and you can't expect to get as much out of the course as a skilled programmer who is just switching languages.
- An introductory course will have a mix of individuals on it, some beginners and some with good experience. The experienced ones will seem to get along much faster than the beginners and the instructor will have to spread his or her attention over the whole group, not just you. If that is likely to demotivate you or make you feel bad about yourself, you should look for forms of study that are not group oriented to begin with. Conversely, some people are spurred on by the challenge that this gives them!
You need to be realistic about what you can achieve on an introductory course, especially if it's the first time you have taken up the art of programming. To reach the levels of the top professionals takes years of study and practice, just like any field. However, to be able to make modest modifications to existing programs or undertake small projects for yourself is well within the grasp of people with much less experience.
The best that a short course can do is to
- Illustrate the important concepts of programming if you have never programmed before
- Show you how common programming tasks and concepts are implemented in the particular language the course is teaching
- Save you hours of going down dead-ends if you try to teach yourself, since the instructor has already done that on your behalf
- Show you some of the worst errors to avoid
- Point you towards your destination but not take you there
- Help you understand what more experienced people are talking about if you have to manage or hire them
The courses are not normally intended to train you how to undertake tasks as specific as "implement an e-commerce shopping cart". What they try to do is give you the basics and the skills to help you on the path to figuring that out for yourself. Look at the course outline and be realistic about what you are going to learn in the time available.
People who make a full-time living out of programming vary widely. Some have undertaken years of full-time training coupled with many years of practice and work in highly specialised fields. Others have found different routes and different niches in the profession: you don't need to be Picasso to make a living as a decorator but you still need to know what you are doing to do it well. Our short courses help you get started, the rest is up to you!
If you have any doubt about whether you will benefit from our short courses, call and ask to speak to someone who can help you with advice. We aren't able to provide career counselling but we can listen to what you want to achieve and we will try to help you decide whether the course is appropriate or not.