Let’s set the stage:
Summer 2020. COVID-19 has caused the world to go into chaos. Riots and protests fuel the fire. Everyone is stuck at home. And our protagonist this summer — you — is…staying at home also. You have had to quickly adapt to a world that has shifted to digital learning. With the changing demographic, some of us have been forced to become experts at using Zoom, expert bloggers, expert social influencers, expert online resource finders, and even experts at working from home. The restaurant owners, soccer coaches, and mall cops are worried about their job security and it’s about time for a career change.
Along comes an article, why (soccer coaches) are perfect for programming, you click and now you’re here.
We’ve all read about a 1000 posts on why your experience as a (job/hobby) makes you perfect for programming. Is any profession really ever perfect for programming? I’m guessing if you clicked on this article you’re either a) a person interested in quitting a job and becoming a programmer, b) a person who saw the pay and figured programming is the way, c) a clickbait medium lover, or d) one of my 876,453,192 followers, ahem, I love you guys by the way.
Programming is not for everyone.
I’ll wait for those looking for random affirmation of a career change to leave now.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way.
Programming can be for everyone.
Yup, it can be for you. It first needs to sink in that it will not be easier than the last path just because it could take less time. Think about it: employers are not dumb. Who is going to pay $100, 000 for someone to do a job that anyone could easily do? Good chefs don’t get paid for stuff that’s easily in a recipe book. Good neurosurgeons don’t get paid for the neuroscience knowledge that can be found in 3 months. They pay Lebron James $100 million a year in advertising because of his skills. His skills. HIS SKILLS. How long did Lebron take to get there? All his life. His skills make room for him. He doesn’t have a college degree, or his grades in high school don’t matter as much. His skills make room for him. The skills that he developed for a long time.
Programming is a lot like that. It needs skills that are developed over time. To think I can do a short course and get this amazing offer is a lot like thinking I can go to a 2 week shooting course and now I have a jump shot like Steph Curry (Ok, basketball references are over). When employers hire programmers, they are looking for skills because they are going to pay a lot for the programmer. Let’s let it sink in that we are talking about a possible salary of $100K a year. Do you know how many times I could go to Chipotle with that?(roughly 8,000 after removing taxes if you’re curious)
So our first point: programming is worth the pay and can be for everyone who is willing to put in the time.
Second, programmers are not dumb. It takes a level of disrespect to think I can do your job as well as you after I go through one bootcamp for a month or 2. I assume there are some really great coding bootcamps out there but bear with me for a moment. How can I feel secure if someone else can, after three months, do everything I’ve been doing for the last 5–10 years? Why would you stay in a career with no job security? Realists will tell me sometimes you have to do what you have to do — that’s understandable. Still, in programming, the basics are all the same. Variables, loops, programs, data structures, etc. The value of programming is not necessarily in the commands you can use, rather it is in how experienced you are with them and how you can build/fix something starting with scraps. It’s a lot like learning the alphabet vs writing a book. We basically understand that a 5 year old has all the tools necessary to write a best seller. What they don’t have is mastery. Here is the key word: mastery. What you should be going for then is mastery.
The second key point is that anyone who is worth something in a high paying industry has mastery.
Perhaps I should add a caveat here that I am not a person who is making $100k a year, nor am I a person who is a master programmer. In fact, I’m just a highly opinionated rookie programmer. What I have experienced is the difference between how we think the programming journey will go and how the programming journey actually goes.
We can think programming is going to be this valiant problem solving journey where we have epiphany after epiphany. And finally, in some ‘I-was-born-to-be-a-programmer’ manner figure everything out in the middle of a major assessment/project.
The programming journey looks more like a long night of trying to fix one problem only to find out there are three other difficult problems that are connected to that one problem. The start of the programming journey looks a lot more like feeling like you know absolutely nothing for a long time, being afraid to even mention what you think you know because some expert programmer will tell you about how you’re wrong and how it works and then naturally he/she will eat you (because programmers are secretly cannibalistic). Programming, especially in a social context, can become emotionally taxing.
To use an analogy: The programming journey can feel a lot like finally building up the courage to ask a high school girl to a dance and she cold hard rejects you and having to pick up the pieces afterward (it’s cool Raven, I’m over it). Sometimes a step forward feels like a step backwards.
Many time when you reach a new level of understanding, you find out how little you really know.
You want to switch careers? That works. You have your personal reasons why? I get that. I just don’t want you to be frustrated later because you have a picture of programming that everything you touch will be the next PayPal or Facebook. Even if you’re more realistic, I would like to let you know that sometimes your life will be one of looking at a computer screen until you have a headache because you don’t understand something. Your experiences may help or hinder your journey — you won’t know until you are trying it out. What matters though, is that you have the right mindset : a) employers are not dumb and b) programmers are not dumb. Or we can say it this way:
a) Programming is worth the money people pay for it and b) those who make it are the ones who have mastered their craft
Still interested in programming? I’m excited for you! It will be challenging but worth it. Remember to look for a program that provides what you need not what you want. The following questions may help before signing up:
- Is this what I really want or am I just fed up with what I have?
- Does this promise quick results or does it show me the difficulties I will face as well?
- Would I have the skills to set me apart from those who have more experience?
- Will this program enable me to master skills or simply replicate what the instructors do?
- Will I get enough help when I’m struggling?
- Will I have enough time before deciding to see if programming is really for me or am I committing to everything upfront?
There are more questions, but these are sufficient to guide the beginning.
If you are looking for a place to start. I would recommend checking out Launch School.
I’m not going to do a whole promo for them, but I will say this: if you want to master programming, they’re the people. Starting your journey there will make you a better… person. Oh, and they have a really cool software development program that you may like.
I wish you well and I hope your journey really is “why (your previous job) makes you the perfect programmer.” Instead of “why you started programming and ran back to (your previous job).”