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How can I learn new programming languages and database stuff on my own?

By mcmahone ·
I am currently a student in my 3rd year into a BS in Computer & Info Tech and I posted the other day about being concerned with the limited programming and database knowledge I will exit school with. To summarize it, when I first started my degree I had no idea what precisely I wanted to do in the field. Now I have narrowed it and know I want to either write code or work with databases, but my school doesn't offer many programming or database classes and I worry I'll be laughed at when I try to look for a job. I'll only come out knowing (very basic in all) C#, Java, HTML, CSS, SQL. There will be a couple courses in database administration.

Eventually I'll try to get an internship but I don't even think I'm prepared for an internship right now; it's been a couple semesters since any programming courses and I can hardly remember any syntax for the little I have learned.

Anyway, many of the comments I've gotten in posts have said something to the effect of "You need to learn to program on your own". So my question is: How?

I am a good self-teacher, and good at finding answers, but I wouldn't have any direction, which is something a person like me can't function without. I need some sort of structure even if it's vague. I need to have a goal - ie; "Write code in this language that accomplishes this." and something that is realistic for a novice programmer to take on. I'm not creative, I can't make up a project out of thin air. But even if I could, ideally I'd have SOME guidance similar to the specifications my professors give in programming assignments, and it would be appropriate for my level. So where do I find projects to tackle? Websites, Books? Programming for Dummies? I know there has to be something out there.

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