Tag Archives: Google’s Coding Competitions

Grow your skills with Coding Practice with Kick Start

Posted by Julia DeLorenzo, Program Manager, Coding Competitions

Kick Start is one of Google’s online coding competitions offering programmers of all skill levels the opportunity to hone your skills through a series of online rounds hosted throughout the year.

If you’re new to coding competitions and not sure where to start, then join us for Coding Practice with Kick Start! Offering developers of all skills the chance to practice competitive programming problems on your own time without the pressure of a scoreboard or timed round. These practice sessions are not official Kick Start rounds, but are a great way for you to hone your coding skills, connect with a global community, prepare for an interview, and most importantly have fun!

Work your way through fun algorithmic and mathematical problems on the Kick Start platform in four-day practice sessions throughout the 2022 Kick Start season (see full schedule here).

There are two more Coding Practice with Kick Start sessions this year:

  • Coding Practice Session #2: June 27, 2022 (16:00 UTC) - July 1, 2022 (3:00 UTC)
  • Coding Practice Session #3: August 29, 2022 (16:00 UTC) - September 2, 2022 (3:00 UTC)

Here’s what our team of Googlers working behind the scenes to create the problems and walk-throughs have to say about the program, including advice for this year’s participants:

Sarah Young, Software Engineer

What advice would you give to beginning coders?

When first thinking about how to solve a problem, forget about the coding and try to think about it as if you only needed to explain how to do it to someone. Go back and reread the problem to make sure you covered everything. Then you can start breaking it down into logical pieces, and it'll make everything a lot easier!

Why is Coding Practice with Kick Start/the Kick Start competition such an excellent tool for growing your skills and practicing coding?

Kickstart is a great way to challenge yourself to do fun problems in a competitive but not stressful environment, whether you're a beginner or have done competitive programming in the past!

Federico Brubacher, Software Engineer

What advice would you give to beginning coders?

My advice to new coders comes in two parts:

First one is to embrace the learning process. Learning a new skill is hard. It's a rollercoaster process in which one day you are extremely productive/happy and the next you are stuck and bored. If you embrace that there will be bad days and stick with it then you will start making progress doing more difficult programming tasks.

Second is to try to pattern recognize. When we are learning incrementally difficult things, it is good to start by trying to associate the thing you are trying to learn/solve with stuff you have seen in the past. This makes the learning process easier because you are free now to focus on the new parts of the problem you are currently facing and not start from scratch. The hard part is doing the work to distill what you learned every day into patterns.

Why is Coding Practice with Kick Start/the Kick Start competition such an excellent tool for learning and practicing coding?

If you look at my previous answer you can see that pattern recognition is huge when learning coding. Practicing coding on Kick Start is all about pattern matching and thinking about a problem thoroughly armed only with your previous experience.

As you go through the problems you will see the arsenal of tools (patterns) you have to solve problems expand. Then you will use these patterns to solve new problems and continue learning and improving. It is addicting, but the good kind!

Kata Brányiné Sulák, Software Engineer

What advice would you give to beginning coders?

Coding is about solving problems - assembling the general algorithm and data structure pieces so that it results in a working solution. Don't try to learn the fine details of a specific programming language before jumping in, just use the language syntax to describe/document the steps you want to take. Making the code technically running is the easier part (even if initially you have to google for error messages or unexpected behaviors a lot).

Why is Coding Practice with Kick Start/the Kick Start competition such an excellent tool for growing your skills and practicing coding?

Kick Start's problem sets are diverse, to make coders encounter wide range of algos and data structures (giving high learning and also fun factors); mostly formulated in real life scenario descriptions to enforce the contestants to transform them into IT concepts (which is a core part of the developers' work); the input is simplified and is guaranteed to be correct so coders can concentrate on the abstract problem itself and not on writing boilerplate on error handling; and analysis is actually formulated as list of hints giving a second chance to create a solution in practice mode and still get the accomplishment.