Coding Tutor Tip-6-Is Coding For You?
Coding is a lucrative career. Although the pandemic and related disasters have dented my financial situation, I ended up making a lot of money, thanks to programming. As an added bonus, I have a ton of free time in my hands. I am my own boss. I work less than 25 hours a week, and sleep like a baby for 10 hours every day.
It has allowed me a cushy lifestyle for a good 9 years and counting to this day. Software, coding, programming, IT…whatever you want to call it. It has been very good for me. I thank the programming gods everyday for this good fortune. Touch Wood. I hope they keep smiling upon me.
The real question is, is coding for you?
Quick Question. If you are desperate for a job, running out of options, then, sure, you could force yourself to become a coder. In which case, you don’t need to read beyond this line.
This a sequel to my previous post, Coding Tutor Tip — 5 — GitHub Essentials.
Now, you do have choice, then, perhaps, you should look at what a Coding career entails.
Patience, Repetition and Change
I have been coding since I was 16 years old (circa 2001). In my college (as with so many universities in India), computer science students dont know how to code. They simply ‘mug up’ or ‘by-heart’ or ‘memorize’, 50 to 300 line code and vomit it out on the day of the exam. I was one of the few students in the class who could write the code, without having to memorize. I took the time to practice, learn. I was so good and I was a touch typist, my lab exams would finish in less than 4 minutes.
The normal duration of a lab exam is 3 hours. I was a constant source of amazement and shock for my lab exam evaluators.
Eventually, after spending time as a business to business salesperson, I returned to coding in 2012. Since that time I have worked as a full time freelance developer (now retired) and tutor (currently going on). I have a MVP award from Microsoft. I am Top Rated on UpWork. I have worked on projects big and small.
I say all this, because, coding, is all about three things.
You, should be able to accept this. For me, coding, always reminded of the good old, boring as books, game of chess. Last night, after trying for more than 10 days, and multiple losses, I finally defeated a ‘1400’ bot on a chess game.
I don’t know if the David 1400 bot on Chess.com website is tough or easy. Is defeating David, lame? I don’t know.
What I know, ever since I was a kid, I loved solving puzzles. Obviously, I have given up on many things in life. However, I have never given up on something, until I feel that I have given it all I have. I don't mind repeating myself. I don't mind if there are a lot of changes. I don't mind patiently waiting for something to happen.
I still remember, when I was 18, spending over 100 hours, trying to get bubble sort to work. It would have taken me 2 to 4 hours to mug it up. Like many of my classmates. I wanted to understand it. I did not stop till I became a bubble sort expert.
Right now, I am working on a project, that I have been working on (despite the pandemic induced depression, loss of family, money and my first company) since January. I continue to work on it patiently, until it finishes. It might take days or weeks or months.
I will wait. I will give it all. I might succeed or I will fail. If I fail, I will fail with the knowledge that I gave it all. That’s coding for you. It demands endless hours. Hours that you may not have, to spend. Your life is too busy. You cannot prioritize coding over other activities. If you cannot spend more than 15 hours on practicing to code, then, perhaps, coding should definitely not be for you.
Folks Who Quit
Since 2012, I have worked as both a freelance developer and freelance tutor. As I type this, I have retired from working as a developer, but continue to work as a tutor. In the last 9 years, I must have interacted with more than 25000 students all over India. I have done everything from college workshops to corporate trainings to one on one remote and offline tutoring.
On top of this, I have taught students from all over the world, online over Skype and Zoom.
The folks who quit, more often than not, are simply desperate for a job. They are without choices. In which case, you do what you do in life. Force yourself to do what you don’t like. I grew up poor, so I know a thing or two about living a life without choices. I have lived through desperation more times than I can recall.
However, a lot of people, do have a choice, but they fail, spectacularly. For some reason, many believe that coding is something you can learn to do overnight. For some reason, nobody questions the fact that it takes 6 years to become a doctor. Yet, many are under the impression that you need only 6 days to start developing software.
That is not true at all. I don't know why this impression has bubbled up in the general public’s mind. Each time I meet a new student client on Fiverr or UpWork, I spend hours convincing them that, no, I cannot make them a full stack developer in 2 weeks. They appear disappointed when I decline to let them hire me after refusing a 2 week training contract.
These ‘2 week’ clients are the one’s who end up being most upset, and also the ones who will demand a refund and leave a bad review. I really don’t need the grief.
Right Hardware and Money
Another question you need to ask yourself — do you have the money and the computer hardware to learn software?
Computers are expensive. I have always believed that, even at my peak performance, I am, at best, a below average developer. However, I make up for these shortcomings with access to a fully equipped Home Office. As I type this, I have a home office, which is an entire apartment dedicated for work. I have 6 computers (each computer cost me over $2000 dollars, and in India, that is a lot of money), 2 internet connections, all day power backup, 4K and 2K monitor displays and so many other gadgets that help me work.
A Knight is only as good as his armor, shiny sword and sturdy horse.
Not everyone should have 6 computers, but they should have a decent computer. An entire home is overkill. However, a proper dedicated desk for coding, is essential. High Speed Internet, even today, in this day of post-pandemic life, is still hard to come by for many people. It is still rare to find student learners who have a external monitor connected to their laptop.
Of course, learning software costs a lot of money. An experienced tutor like me will charge hundreds of dollar every week for a few hours of training.
All said and done, as a tutor and recently retired developer, I know coding is not easy. As with any other lucrative career, this career also has a steep hill to climb, before you can start plucking ripe mangoes from its branches everyday.
Perhaps, this advice helps you make a choice before you jump in.