Programming is an Art not just a Science

Just because you are not ‘programmer’, it does not mean you cannot start learning today.

Programming is not just for engineers, web developers,computer scientists, research, academia, mathematicians, data scientists and statisticians.

Today young people are attending fully-booked bootcamps to learn to code during the school break such as the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney. Girls as young as 10 and 13 are learning to create animation and programs through the programming language Sketch and there are also classes in Python and learning robotics. The end result of creating something is the most rewarding outcome and through programming you have the opportunity to imagine, build,create and innovate.

The adventure begins

Just like one learning to become a concert pianist, one must practice first by commanding the basic scales. Do you remember your music teacher in high school echoing the acronym E-G-B-D-F or Every-Boy-Deserves-Fruit? It takes practice, daily practice and more practice to master the art of playing music.

Learning to code is an opportunity to embark on a challenge to combine your career with useful tech skills.

Just like learning the piano takes time, learning to program from a Non-programming background was hard but not impossible. Like playing the piano scales, programming is like mastering a marathon the effort takes time and a lot of practice if you are not naturally inclined.

Why should I code?

I believe that learning to program in a language is no different to learning a new spoken language French, Italian,Mandarin or Cantonese. Learning a new skill is uncomfortable but you eventually reach your sweet spot and you can identify the similarities and patterns in accents or in programming languages the syntax will start to look similar over time — for example SAS code, SQL, Python and R which are some of the essential data mining languages.

Also professionals in the sectors of health, insurance, government working as data analysts and also data journalists have equipped themselves with programming languages such as D3.js, Microsoft PowerBI to produce powerful and interactive dashboards and visualisations that are asthetically pleasing to the eyes of the stakeholder. These are beautiful visualisations that pop!

If you are new to Programming

Start to master one programming language just like the spoken word before you become bi-lingual or multi-lingual as your brain can only compute to memory new sentences or syntax — but overtime the world is your oyster so please choose your own adventure as to the language you would like to master first.

What is your learning style?

Please ask yourself the question of preference if you enjoy learning by completing online courses or do you prefer attending a class with an instructor with face-to-face content delivered in a lecture style class room environment? Or do you prefer a blended learning environment, both lectures and online?

My pathway towards Data Science :

  1. Excel — instructor-led training
  2. SQL — instructor-led training
  3. Tableau — instructor-led training
  4. Qlik — instructor-led training
  5. R- instructor-led training & Datacamp
  6. Python- instructor-led training at General Assembly
  7. D3.js — online
  8. SAS — online University edition
  9. Java — workshop at General Assembly
  10. Hadoop — at university
  11. Neo4j — online
  12. Microsoft PowerBI — installed at workplace

It was helpful to me that by attending an instructor-led classroom environment , supplemented by attending meetup groups in the data science community and programming languages will assist your learning.

I also explored MOOCS courses.

Tip: After you are comfortable with mastering on language, then I suggest you move to the next language.

If you are still feeling uncomfortable, start with the basics, try the websites with coding interactive shells such as:

1. Code Academy

2. Khan Academy

3. Data Camp

Will you take the challenge and start to innovate? Will you take up a programming language today?

Wendy is a data science student completing her Masters at the University of Technology, Sydney and she has worked in financial planning and finance for over 12 years. These opinions are her own. She is interested in AI, machine learning, NLP and deep learning.

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