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Aaron McCollum
Aaron McCollum

Posted on • Updated on

How I hope to problem solve this year

Part of my 2021 goals was to start over on freeCodeCamp's JavaScript course and complete it by the end of January. At this point, I'm probably looking at going a few days into February, but that's okay! It's been great to review JavaScript and go farther than I did in 2020 with the course in total.

I'm on the last part of the course before the projects section which is called "Intermediate Algorithm Scripting." They are not easy! The last time I attempted this course, I was so intimidated by the algorithm problems. It was my first time ever attempting algorithm problems. I thought I had to know everything without Googling for help, otherwise it meant I wasn't ready for them. That in and of itself was a wrong mindset. Needless to say, I grew frustrated and stopped the course.

This time though, I have a much healthier mindset when hacking at problems I initially don't know how to solve. Thanks to the community here, some honest developers on Twitter, and a few podcasts, it's apparent that everyone looks to Google and other sites for help when stuck. Going into 2021 and the JavaScript course, having this piece of community-given wisdom has been key in helping me solve problems.

Below are a set of steps I aim to take moving forward when I hit a problem that makes me go "woah...what is that?":

  1. Read - If an error hits my screen when I run a program, I want to take time to read and understand the error. What line is it on? What type of error am I getting? This is great for top-line debugging. If I need to find a certain function or keyword to help answer the problem, I should go read the documentation (MDN for JavaScript, ruby-doc.org for Ruby,etc.). Starting out by taking a few moments to read is a great first step to figuring out a potential solution.

  2. Search - If the documentation doesn't have what I need, I should then go search Google for help. Chances are, especially with beginner problems and interview questions, others have come across the same problem as you and have written a blog post about it, an answer on StackOverflow, or made a Youtube video about it. I sometimes need to watch a Youtube video on a certain aspect of JavaScript when I read the documentation and still have questions.

  3. Ask - Lastly, we shouldn't be afraid to ask each other. Once we have read the documentation and searched Google for help, finding someone who is more experienced to ask them for help is a great step. Joining a Slack community, posting on StackOverflow, or phoning a friend is a solid solution.

I hope you find this helpful for your own problem-solving. Nothing beats the feeling of working on a problem and overcoming errors to finally see it pass all its tests. Keep hacking away out there!

Discussion (2)

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softwaredvlpr_ profile image
software Devlpr

Asking for help has been one of my biggest problems because I was scared the other person would think I’m dumb or ridicule me for not know the stuff already but I’m slowly over coming that, I’m okay with that as long as I get the help🙂.

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aaron profile image
Aaron McCollum Author

Absolutely. It's really helped me to hear that senior developers and others who have been programming professionally for YEARS are Googling and asking others for help still.