Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

6 Things To Know Before You Learn Python

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before you learn python beginners

Python is one of the best coding languages to learn to boost your career. Many of the biggest websites in the world use Python, and there are plenty of jobs you can get with Python skills. But what do you need to know BEFORE you start?

With over four years experience teaching Python, we here at One Month have noticed 6 things that all new Python students should know before getting started.

1. Learn the difference between front-end and back-end

Front-end vs. back-end — what’s the difference? You may have heard the terms “front-end” and “back-end” web development before. Keeping track of two types of web development may seem a bit confusing, but it’s actually quite simple.

When you’re visiting a web page, the front-end is what you see. It’s the text on the page, the pictures, the links, all of this is considered the front-end. The front-end is made up of three coding languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. That’s it!

In contrast to the front-end code, the back-end code is what goes on behind the scenes. It’s what you don’t see. Back-end code tells websites what to do, and it also queries data from the database in order to display it to the website user. A few examples of back-end coding languages are Python, Ruby, PHP, C, and Java.

Learn more about front-end vs. back-end with this video.

2. Understand what you can do with Python

Python is great for building the back-end of websites, data analysis, accessing API data, machine learning, and automating repetitive tasks.

Instagram uses Python’s Django framework to manage their CMS, while Instacart uses Python for demand forecasting to run projections for the upcoming weeks.

Read more about how Google, Instagram and Uber use Python.

3. Install Python (on your PC or Mac)

install python

How can you learn a computer language if you don’t have access to it? Python 2 generally comes pre-install on most Apple computers, but the truth is you’ll want to have Python 3. The next step to learning Python is installing the language onto your computer. That may seem a bit overwhelming, but really, it’s not difficult at all. In fact, we’ve made a website that makes it easy. is a quick and painless way to get up and running with Python on your own computer. The website will walk you through the necessary steps to get going, including options for a Mac or Windows PC. is the easiest way to install Python.

4. Python 2 vs. Python 3 — Know the difference

There are two major versions of Python — Python 2 and Python 3.

Python 2 is legacy. Python 3 is the future. So which should you use?

Python 2 is still used by many companies for one reason: they built their sites with Python 2 years ago, and they haven’t upgraded to Python 3.

Python 3 was a big upgrade to the language with significant changes that make transitioning a lot of work, so many of companies built on Python 2 chose to stick with what works. It was either that or rebuild the whole site.

New websites are almost always built with Python 3. Over the next few years, once reluctant companies stuck on Python 2 will be making the switch to Python 3. Because everyone is moving to Python 3, we recommend prioritizing it  if you’re learning Python for the first time.

5. Understand what jobs hire Python developers  

python developer

If you learn Python you can become a Python developer, and you may even get hired at Facebook where you can earn a salary of over $150,000 a year. But if becoming a developer isn’t your thing — you might benefit from knowing that there are many other jobs that use Python these days. Everyone from data journalists, scientists, doctors and product managers are using Python.

Read my post 6 Jobs You Can Land If You Know Python if you’d like to learn more.

6. You can be a Python developer without knowing “everything” about Python

Here’s something a lot of non-developers might not know: to “know” a language, you don’t have to learn the entire language. In fact, virtually no developers will know the entirety of a programming language. You only have to learn the section of the language that you need to do what you’re trying to accomplish.

So if you just want to build a data scraper in Python, you can learn the foundations of Python and the data scraping library BeautifulSoup, but you don’t need to know everything.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re learning with us at One Month, or reading Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way, it’s important that you know these six fundamentals from the very start. Best of luck learning!  

Here at One Month, we teach a 30 day Python Bootcamp where you can learn enough Python 3 to write scripts with BeautifulSoup, Pandas, run a Flask server, and much more! 



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Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.