Should you learn to program?
Programming is a skill reserved for geniuses and there is no way I am Einstein-level clever.
— a discouraged student
Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Wozniak.
These are the creators of Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. They are also seen as geniuses with Einstein-level IQs (two went to Harvard and one went to UC Berkeley). They all started programming when they were young kids or teenagers. By the time they started their respective companies, all three already had years of experience programming.
Is it too late to start programming if you are not a teenager? Why should you learn to program? Which programming language should you learn first? These are the questions our students often ask.
Is it too late to learn to program?
Like learning a language or instrument, programming is a skill that takes time to master. The truth is, anyone that tells you that programming is easy and can be mastered in a short time is probably lying or over-exaggerating. On the flip side, it is also not that difficult.
At its core, programming is about breaking down a problem into parts that are easier to understand and solve. It develops your logical and critical thinking skills, which all of us already have. Programming also develops your creativity, because you need to think of creative ways to solve those same problems. It is hard to argue that any one of us has zero creativity.
So what programming does is that it builds on our existing skills and push them to new heights. As a programmer, there is limitless amount of things to learn and you are constantly being pushed to think creatively, logically and critically. This is the most difficult thing about programming — the feeling of being out of your depth.
So no, it is not too late to learn to program, as long as you are ok with being challenged a little.
Why should you learn to program?
In my opinion, programming is a Swiss army knife that future-proofs your career. Justin Kan (founder of Twitch.tv, the billion-dollar game streaming site) famously said that programming is the new literacy. Virtually any repeatable task can be done with code, which means that most of our work can be done with code.
When you go to McDonald’s, you will notice more self-serving machines and less service employees. More and more white collar work are also being done by code — when I was working in marketing for a global travel company, a lot of the marketers had to learn how to do web, social, and email marketing — which all requires coding knowledge. Knowing how to code made it an easy transition for me — not so much for everyone else that had decades of experience working in traditional print and TV marketing.
Which programming language should I learn first?
Wishing you all the best on your coding journey,