You can code, and ?

Why coding isn’t as important as you think

Fascinated by my nephew’s ability to use my ipad better than my older sister, I decided that I should start teaching him how to code. He is five…she is approaching 45 and she used to teach computer..”she approved this message”

He started using my ipad when he was 2. He could obviously hack into it by the time he was 4. And now we are discussing programming. The speed at which he picks up concepts that took me forever to understand eg inheritance implies that he will be able to understand some basic programming principles 2 years from now. He will be about 7 years of age.

Over the last six months I have had the privilege of talking to more than 300 amazing technologist, tech enthusiasts, programmers and aspiring programmers. All of them excited about the newest technology trend, how node.js is performing better and REACT is harder than they thought.

I have also had the privilege of talking to several tech companies looking for amazing technologists and they are all asking for the same thing: life skills, soft skills, skills that enable you to work with other human beings. To quote one “we can teach people how to code, we can’t teach them how to have a great attitude”

In preparation for teaching my nephew who is 5 and my other nieces and nephews all below 14 years. I did a lot of research including doing a python course and asking several questions on tech and non forums to point me in the right direction. The commonest Pet Peeve on all of them was that developers are getting “harder to work with”. To quote one “They know that it’s getting easier for everyone to code, people can say no to just tech skills. Step up your game and become an all round contributor”. And it’s true with the resources out there today, it has gotten easier for anyone to learn software programming. So the only way to stand out is if you have those essential skills that everyone is looking for especially in coders

And what skills are those skills?

  1. Conversation..

It isn’t easy to have a meaningful conversation especially now in the silent generation — where we are communicating more on mediums than directly. And yet the easiest way to create bonds especially meaningful bonds like when you are looking for a job is have a genuine conversation. Let someone in and add meaning to your conversations as that is how you will be memorable. Great Forbes article here.

2. Planning..

Most people think they they are good at planning. Planning Fallacy shows that we are typically optimistic about the most important aspect of our plans… Time! And yet your ability to plan and manage your time is one of the biggest indicators of success as it speaks to your productivity and your ability to deliver. If you plan better, you deliver better..

3. EI — Emotional Intelligence

Many of us are aware of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) very few however know and even think about EI. EI is your ability to recognize and manage your emotions, and the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups. So, why is this important:

  • Having a higher EI means you will find it easier to form and maintain interpersonal relationships and to ‘fit in’ during group situations or teams.
  • You’ll also be better equipped to note your psychological state and deal with pressure or stressful environments.

And we all know programming can be stressful sometimes.

4. Critical thinking and SYNTHESIZING…

Critical thinking — Objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.
Synthesizing — When you synthesize, you combine two or more things to create something more complex

How we take things apart and then put them back again is critical to problem solving and creativity. Where as the above skills seem inherent to most programmers there is benefit in honing them especially where leadership and management come in. There are tests and sites to help you get better.

5. Negotiation

“A method by which people settle differences”

Being able to solve conflict is paramount to all professions. Being able to disagree and still maintain peace is seen as a sign of maturity and integrity. Also stating one’s side and being able to compromise is key to working well in any profession.

As the next generation starts acquiring programming skills at the age of 5, it’s important that as a programmer you stay competitive. To do that, invest in life skills as well.