6 Things I Learned During My First Coding Challenge
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6 Things I Learned During My First Coding Challenge

How I spent my entire Saturday staring at a computer screen

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6 Things I Learned During My First Coding Challenge
IMProgrammer

As a Computer Science major, I knew that I would eventually tackle the challenge of solving a problem with code in a certain amount of time. Our school hosts different competitions throughout the school year, but I was unable to attend them last year. This year, I wanted to make these things more of a priority, which is how I ended up spending eight hours of my Saturday in the same chair, at the same table. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some of my favorite people, so even though it was challenging, we had a lot of fun. Here are a few things I learned:


1. Your Initial Solution is Probably Not the Best Solution (And Might Not Work at All)

Our coding challenge was eight hours long, which left for a lot of time to try and retry. Though we started off with one goal, by the end our approach had improved so that we could find some success.

2. It’s Important to Take a Step Back and Re-Evaluate the Problem

As any programmer can tell you, it’s impossible to dive directly into a large problem. If you start without any sort of an approach, you’ll find yourself in a corner that you can’t back out of. My partner and I spent a good half hour or so of our time talking through solutions before we even started coding.

3. Asking for Help is Not a Sign of Weakness

I’m not sure how all competitions work, but we were lucky enough to have assistance throughout our challenge. As we met different walls and frustrations, it helped to be able to ask the challenge’s creators what they might suggest doing to change our approach.

4. Working in a Team of Two Requires Constant Coordination

It’s never easy to work in a team, but it’s especially difficult to work in a pair. If you aren’t constantly communicating about what is being done, you may end up with redundant code, or code that conflicts with each other. We found that it’s best to delegate small tasks so that you’re able to bring the code back together in the end.

5. Caffeine (and Pizza and Trail Mix) Will Become Your Best Friend

When you spend all day in the same place… you’re going to need caffeine. And food. I like to snack while I work, so I enjoyed eating my trail mix whenever I needed a small break from coding.

6. Learning New Techniques Will Save Your Solution

Every day is a learning experience. I’ve always tried to live by this motto, and I definitely found it handy throughout our coding competition. You’ll never improve your skills if you stick to what you already know. But Google and StackOverflow will become your best friends when you need someone to turn to, and they’ll provide solutions you didn’t know existed!


Thanks to Care Otter for providing me with a great first Coding Challenge Experience!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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