How I started learning to code as a university student

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James Bibb, Graduate Software Engineer discusses about 3 sites that he used to learn code as a student

I joined Capgemini with no qualification in the tech industry. Nor did I have a background in Software design, as I studied economics at University. My knowledge of coding was completely self-taught up until the point I started my graduate role at Capgemini as a Software Engineer.

Questions I commonly get asked are “how can I make a start in learning to code and becoming familiar with coding languages”. I would encourage anyone to do their research on which platform is right for them. I will be talking about the three sites that helped me whilst I was at University.


hackerrank is a website where you are presented with coding problems, it is your job to solve them. These vary from very simple to very complex. You can slowly “rank” up over time as your knowledge grows. I found this a good tool because it puts your knowledge of syntax and code to work. They have a diverse set of coding languages and compilers to use.

When I joined Capgemini I had a good understanding of SQL Syntax but I hadn’t worked with it before.  It is because of this I used Hackerrank, the website encourages you to solve problems and create solutions opposed to memorising syntax or coding best practice. This is where I go if I want to build upon something I already know.


Coursera, this website is a great source of guided content. This included video lectures, projects and exams. Here you can get to grips with a topic and take it back to your team with a strong understanding. I studied a course on Coursera called SQL Fundamentals. Coursera is also great as there are courses for soft skills or noncoding skills such as maths, English or sciences.

I have an ambition to become a data scientist. To achieve this it is imperative that I have a strong grasp of the fundamentals and a good understanding of the problems a data scientist career can pose. Coursera has an outstanding amount of courses with expert led lectures, projects and peer reviewed essays.  I feel this is the closest match to “class room” learning that you can complete independently.  This is where I would go if I want to learn multiple languages and how they interact together


Pluralsight this is another website with guided content. This site is geared towards the coding industry with a tremendous amount of depth and breadth of content. You will find almost any language here. You can learn the basics or study more complex topics. On this website, I wanted to pursue AWS cloud technology. This was not something that my team used but it was something that I was interested in and wanted to learn.

Pluralsight is very similar to Coursera but it specialises in technology and programming. If I wanted to learn one language from the ground up, I would start here. I am currently using Pluralsight to work on my AWS knowledge. This is where I would go if I want to learn one language from the ground up

 I believe the old adage is true, if you aren’t improving, you’re going backwards. The technology sector is forever changing, PHP was king 10 years ago and now it is Python. I am sure in the next decade there will be another language. I feel that it is important to continue growing out of education and beyond.



James Bibb, Graduate Software Engineer

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