One of the things I felt I’ve been missing is a mentor. Codeschool, Treehouse, and internet tutorials are great, but making an actual human connection with someone and receiving personalized advice is more valuable IMO.
I met a guy named Steve, and I’ll explain who he is at a later date. Steve, like me, didn’t come from a computer science background; he’s a self-taught dev also. Steve and I have chatted in-person and also via email and I feel he has a good idea of my skill level and goals.
As far as personalized advice he has suggested the following:
1) Ditch Windows and learn Linux
I’ve been a Windows and DOS (haha) guy since I got my first computer in 1992. There’s nothing really “wrong” with Windows, except that most dev shops are using Macs and Linux. Therefore if I want to start acting like a professional dev then I need to start using Linux or a Mac.
2) Start learning another programming language
I had ideas about learning Python, but my mentor advises Java. I never even thought about learning Java at this point. This would actually benefit me because at some point in the future I’d like to start developing apps for mobile devices, and Android development is done with Java. Two birds, one stone.
3) Get familiar with SQL beyond what Rails and Active Record
Learn SQL the hard way