I'm currently a 2nd year PhD student in computer architecture field. I've taken some CS classes, but I'm not very confident with my coding skills, especially when dealing with open-ended large projects. I'm wondering if there's a good way to improve my skills.

I think one problem I ran into is that when I got trapped by a problem that cannot be handled, I tend to dig in a bit but quickly get distracted and intimidated. This is especially the case since I'm continuing to work on someone else's work and I'm the only one on that project. This then becomes a bad cycling: I work on my project, get frustrated and procrastinate. The procrastination will in turn cause pressure for me to be even more intimidated to work on the project. I would really appreciate it if you could give me some advice.

1 Answer 1


I don't think the place for your question is academia.se, but since I have a few suggestions for you I'm writing an answer.

If you want to excel your coding skills, instead of picking a random project to work on I recommend you to take a look at a course and solve the proposed exercises; I say this because, when someone doesn't have enough understanding of the field, choosing a "good" project to work on is tricky. When someone with actual experience in the area proposes an exercise/coding problem to a novice, they try it to be something that the student can actually do and, most importantly, something that will lead him/her to learn new techniques/tools/ways of thinking that can be useful for future endeavors.

If you feel very rusty, you can start with simple exercises (just google for a decent tutorial and dig in!), but if you feel up for something more challenging, you can always take a look at the Project Euler :)

Whatever you chose, if you really want to improve your skills, you need to be consistent. Take a time of your week and make sure to make an actual effort to solve whatever problem you pick. During my journey I have learned that having fixed times for fixed tasks helps to reduce procrastination. You can use the pomodoro technique to help you keep track of your time and work productively.

Since you mention to be a PhD student I don't know how much free time you have, but as the topic of your PhD seems to be related to coding I hope you will not have too much trouble to find the time to polish your coding skills.

Best regards!

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