Being able to develop and build things is one of the most empowering feelings for a data scientist. Being able to create something out of nothing is a process that everyone wants to be a part of, but it’s something ML engineers do regularly.

Whichever programming language you choose to specialize in, or if you are a jack of all trades, they usually require the same cognitive tasks. After even a short break from coding, these processes and mental shortcuts generally fade away. To continue being an effective coder, it is important to stay sharp, especially in between jobs.

There are many ways to brush up on your coding skills before you join a new job. Here are 6 of them.

AIM Daily XO

Join our editors every weekday evening as they steer you through the most significant news of the day, introduce you to fresh perspectives, and provide unexpected moments of joy
Your newsletter subscriptions are subject to AIM Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

Participate In Challenges

When you need to get back into the code, the most difficult thing to do is to think about what problem to solve. Fortunately, there exist a multitude of platforms built for coders with problem problems.

Getting into a coding competition, or a ‘hackathon’ as they are called, is one of the best ways to brush up your skills after a long period of not coding. Moreover, the competition is also a great motivator for anyone wishing to improve themselves while learning new methods to code.

Download our Mobile App

Analytics India Magazine has a data science-focused hackathon site known as MachineHack. Alternatives include TopCoder, Project Euler and Facebook’s Engineering Puzzles site.

Practice Code Katas

This is one of the cooler sounding methods of keeping your programming skills intact. Derived from the Japanese word kata in reference to martial arts, code katas are short coding challenges to bring back the code way of thinking to your cognitive processes.

These are generally short exercises, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. This helps in maintaining focus and finding the solution instead of brute forcing the code. While some katas take the form of debugging code, others require developers to think about the underlying processes.

Code katas greatly benefit coders as it keeps their mind sharp between jobs. Sites such as Codekata and Codewars offer many katas in many different languages, so go try them out.

Try New Ways To Learn Code

There are multiple languages out there, and every developer has their favourite. However, learning a new language will rejig the way you think and help you better your programming skills.

Learning a new language is now made extremely fun with gamifying being applied to the code. Many basic concepts of many different programming languages are completely gamified, allowing for a fun way to learn how to code. They also take most of the difficult parts of learning a new language out by rewarding the player at every step.

Websites such as CodeCombat, CodeMonkey and CheckiO are great ways to learn new languages while having a lot of fun doing so.

Take A Look At Professional Code Samples

Clean code is one of the most satisfying things to see on a screen. However, it is not a priority for many programmers, and it should be. Clean code is an important skill to have, as it greatly increases readability and debug capabilities.

One of the best ways to create clean code is to take a look at the code samples which are created by some of the best coders around. Looking at these samples can also give you insight into the specific implementation of a problem you are facing or a new shortcut in the language.

Sites like Stack Overflow, SourceForge and Planet Source Code have snippets of great code and a friendly community to back them up.

Pro Bono Freelance And Contribute To Open Source Projects

One of the biggest advantages of the developer movement is the rise of the FOSS principles. Free and open source software is at the root of many programming languages and at the heart of some of the most ambitious projects in the world.

It is generally a good practice to pick the top FOSS project in your language of choice and contribute to the GitHub page. Another alternative to keep your coding skills fresh is to work for free or a discounted rate in a project. This will keep your skills at their best while ensuring that you have more to show at your next job.

Watch, Listen And Learn

More than practising code, learning new methods of tackling common programming problems can supercharge your coding workflow. Resources such as YouTube offer hours of educational coding content, and there are millions of audiobooks and podcasts for coding-related talk.

Find your mix of what you like to consume, and make sure to keep updated with the latest information in the coding field. Constant learning will put you ahead of the competition in a blink.