Why do you want to code?
Cross-posted from The Rithm Blog.
You’ve heard that we are currently in the midst of a coding “revolution.” You’ve seen the job market prediction for the next twenty years. You’re looking to grow yourself to develop a more valuable skill set.
And that has brought you here.
There’s no doubt that having technical skill is valued highly in the startup world and raises career outlook, but proficiency in programming is not something one can learn in a day or a week. It requires a significant time investment; many sessions of uninterrupted, consecutive hours where you focus on nothing but grinding out code. While it is important to consider whether coding aligns with your personal and career goals, the first (and most important) question you should ask yourself is:
1. Do you find coding fun?
Programming combines solving puzzles with learning a new language. On the puzzle side, you begin a problem, come up with an idea, break the idea into smaller pieces, and solve each piece bit by bit. And, like all languages, the more you immerse yourself, the better you get and the faster you learn. The only real way to learn how to code is to code.
2. How do I get started?
Don’t get caught up with what language you should start with. The fact is, once you have a solid understanding, jumping from one language to another is not nearly as difficult as beginning your journey; don’t get frozen at the very beginning.
3. Join a programming community
Something that is often glossed over during this introductory phase is to really immerse yourself in the programming sphere. There are numerous forums and groups that are very open and welcoming to new programmers (reddit, facebook, and twitter are some great places to ask questions). Many are in a similar position to yourself, and are looking for ways to build a community around learning how to code. Meetups are another great way to learn and network, which are especially important if you’re new and looking to break into the scene. Additionally, we at Rithm are always available to bounce ideas and help out via chat, and you can email me at any time (I usually reply same day, next day for sure).
4. Re-evaluate if programming is something you want to pursue
At this point you should have a good idea if programming is for you. Did you find the process fun? (It should be). Was it hard? (It should be). Did you keep going anyway? Did you dedicate many hours and truly give your best shot to improve your skill? Does the thought of coding occupying a large chunk of your day entice you, or make you groan?
If you’ve stuck with it to this point, signs are looking good. Now it’s about next steps, about how to accelerate your learning and programming ability while you have momentum. While there are lots of resources online for beginners, it’s harder to find quality materials that will take you beyond the basics. Codewars is a solid choice if you want to learn to problem-solve elegantly; but ultimately, as a software developer you want to be flexible, inventive, and capable of building complex apps. This kind of learning happens best in in-person courses where you have an opportunity to work alongside programmers who can coach you when you need it. Whether that means workshops, night classes, or a full-blown tech boot camp, there’s no substitute for learning from the experience of advanced coders.