The Full Stack Human: 5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn to Code
by Cameron Blackwood, Client Executive at talent.io
Last Thursday, I spent my lunchtime confused as to why a simple “for” loop sent Google Chrome into meltdown (If you’re curious, I accidently instructed to count up to infinity. Please note: this breaks your browser.).
Whilst your first instinct — assuming you didn’t read the title of this article — would be that I work as a developer, my job is not technical whatsoever — I’m an Account Manager at talent.io. So, why do I choose to spend an hour a day having my brain hurt? Good question.
Here’s five reasons why I believe everyone should learn to code, especially if they work in the technology sector — even if you don’t want to be a professional software developer.
If you work in technology, it’s critical you understand your product
I’ve been interested in computers from a young age, but I never really considered software as an area to pursue either in my career or academically. When I started working for a recruitment agency sourcing software developers, a manager unironically slapped me on the back and said “all you do is press CTRL+F through a CV son, it’s the easiest game out there” (can you imagine actually thinking like that?!)
Whilst that was an extreme example, there’s a major trend of people involved in technology not actually understanding how everything works under the hood. Simply put, you’re putting yourself at a major disadvantage if you’re attempting to market and sell your product to decision makers like CTOs — they want to know the USPs (Unique Selling Points) of your technology, and you need to be able to explain it. Why is it faster, more secure and more reliable than the competition?
If you can advise on a technical level as well as just a commercial one, then you add a whole new dynamic to your credibility. You’d be a marketing guru or a sales whiz, depending on your style!
It provides you with a creative outlet
I make no claim to being an artistic guy — I’ve always been all about numbers in my professional life too. Outside of work, my idea of an outlet has always been to play rugby, or furiously pursue those elusive solo wins on Fortnite. I’ve always struggled with “creating”, so to speak.
However, once I created my first webpage (a static one with some very basic HTML and CSS), I realised that I could actually construct something useful, or fun, from scratch — and that the possibilities are literally endless.
If I’m having a challenging day at work, I will simply spend my lunch break solving problems and working through coding exercises, or adding to my portfolio.
A study from the University of Texas recently showed that engaging the brain in brand new activities improves cognitive performance over time. You can transfer this enhanced mental sharpness into your regular work!
You can use your skills to give something back
Regardless of your day job, many people want to contribute to a cause they care about, and coding can allow you to really make a difference. As it is a skill in high demand, nonprofits/charities really need people who are capable of helping them in this aspect.
From simple websites that give information about your chosen cause, to complex technical solutions to global issues, coders of all levels can help out. FreeCodeCamp actually connects you with organisations looking for coders who can help them. You get to hone your skills while doing something good for the world — it’s a win-win!
In the long term, I want to get good enough at coding to create something that helps a cause close to my heart. When I was a teenager, my parents adopted a rescue dog who gives the family so much happiness every day — he just needed a loving home! Because he was in rural Ireland, there wasn’t anywhere for him until we found him online. As a result, I’d like to create a web tool that scrapes data from animal rescue websites to give people a database of animals needing adoption.
Is there a particular cause you want to assist with? By learning to code, there’s endless potential to do just that.
Coding helps you think logically
Coding is very satisfying in the sense that it follows very logical rules — it either works or it doesn’t, and there is always a solution to your problem. If you do it properly, there is no ambiguity whatsoever.
Since I’ve started coding, I’ve interestingly started to notice a side effect to how my brain works — I seem to now approach my life with a “debugging” mindset. If I have an issue, I start worrying less and just think through various potential solutions until I find the most logical one. This in turn has made me far less stressed and has allowed me to work much more efficiently, so I get more done in less hours.
Out of interest, I had a look at statistics related to my job and compared the progress from when I started coding to now. The results were quite dramatic — I am clearly getting my work done much quicker than I was before, allowing me to get a greater volume completed and resulting in overall better performance, which is very satisfying when you work for a startup and can see the growth right in front of your eyes!
Coding is a hobby with a great community
It’s easy to give up on coding if you’re just getting started, especially when you’re writing very simple HTML and the road ahead seems so long. However, learning is almost like a “boom and bust” cycle — you learn a new skill and feel on top of the world, before moving onto the next bit and just getting frustrated.
The way you can avoid this is by engaging with the community — there’s all kinds of Discord, Slack and Twitter groups you can join of people in the same boat. In fact, I run a Discord server for non-coding Coders which you can join here! What’s more, there’s a multitude of local meetups for casual developers in urban areas. You can make great friends as well as learning an awesome new skill!
Still not convinced?
Whilst I’m not an expert by any means — I have barely scratched the surface in terms of what I could learn, I can certainly say that learning to code has given me a fresh perspective in business and I’m much better for it. If you believe in the 10,000 hours to mastery role, I am 1% complete, which is exciting in a way!
I recommend giving it a try, no matter what your day job is — you never know what you could use it for! I’ve found a great support for my own endeavours at talent.io, at home and in the code community.
Start learning how to code now: my tips for success
- Sign up for FreeCodeCamp, or if you are willing to pay, Treehouse.
- Create a GitHub and Codepen account (to store/show off your code!), as well as a StackOverflow account (to ask questions).
- Contact me on Twitter! I can then introduce you to the wider coding community
- Build as many projects as you can. Make sure to learn by doing. Show your work to your family and friends, and ask what they think, then challenge yourself to implement their suggestions!
📚 Recommended resources:
Can Computer Programming Boost Your Brain Power? — Treehouse Blog
Learning how to program for the first time was a challenge for Adam Waxman. He worked as a full-time investment banking…
Cameron Blackwood is a Client Executive for talent.io London. His role is to help startups (and increasingly large tech companies) hire the very best technical talent seeking new roles.
Learning about the technical side of things helps us understand what our users’ needs — whether they’re a company looking for a niche tech hire, or a candidate who is ready to change jobs. If you’re interested in taking initiative, growing your skills, and making an impact, join us as we redefine the tech recruitment industry.