Higher Education/ Technology

Yes, You Can Learn to Code

Learn to Code

Technology dominates our lives.

Almost every job involves staring at a screen of some type – whether you’re planting a field of corn from a John Deere tractor or processing patient intakes at an area hospital, we’re all spending a considerable amount of our day on some technological device.

Despite our culture’s increasing reliance on tech-based innovations, the average user knows little to nothing of how such programs are run and are unable to describe even the basic of computer-driven functions.

The job outlook within the technology sector continues to increase (no surprise there), with many of these positions requiring little more than an online certificate and some project experience. For those with industry experience, like Front End Developers, opportunities routinely compensate six figures, with many of these offering remote working environments.

Understanding how our technological devices work can open up a multitude of high-earning positions for even the most novice of coders.

Believing Coding Myths

Like millions of others, I was aware of the high earning potential coding skills offered; however, I didn’t think I was “techy” or “mathy” enough to succeed in a coding program.

While I spend a lot of time as a marketing professional glued to tech devices, my undergraduate studies were focused on agriculture and science – not computer science (big difference from steers to silicon chips) – and I mistakenly thought such a background would deem me “unfit” for all this programming.

Also, tech issues, like my phone breaking or my laptop freezing, would leave me in a heated panic, characterized by a lot of device-directed profanity and overall exasperation – a phenomenon I thought disqualified me from being a “tech person”.

Coding is a Necessary Skill

As my company grew, I began to recognize the immense need I had to truly understand how digital media worked, along with the benefits knowing how to program my own platforms offered.

Coupled with my misconceptions regarding what learning to code involved, I was concerned about the lack of women representing this sector of our society (despite spending years within the tech space, I didn’t know any female coders) and wasn’t sure if this was just another space of opportunity blocked by the good ol’ boys club.

Yet, to take things to the next level with my business and my career, I needed to learn how to code. To land bigger clients, to keep marketing projects on budget, and to remain competitive in a very competitive workscape, learning to code was no longer an option – I had to do.

My Unlikely Coding Journey

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I applied for Udacity’s Scholarship Program – one that offered a scholarship for their Intro to Programming Certification, along with immense learning support and opportunities for additional scholarship options. I didn’t think much of my application, as I’d submitted in at 2 AM during one of my postwar insomnia episodes, thus, I was pretty surprised when I received notice of acceptance and award a couple weeks later.  Unsure of what to expect, I read the introductory information carefully, probably looking for reasons why I “couldn’t” do this – none were found.

The Udacity curriculum ended up not jiving with my learning style, so at the suggestion of a fellow female techie, I applied to several other programs, including Codecademy and some super sweet Coursera options, and found an educational platform that totally clicked. As you’ll learn within the first 15 minutes of your technology career, whether it’s finding a program or designing a webpage, trial and error is key to success.

5 Coding Resources:

While I’m just a few months into my coding journey, I feel fairly comfortable with HTML and have a working knowledge of Java Script. With the help of my all-time-favorite online support group, MilSpouse Coders, I’m learning a little bit more about web development each day, and have even been successful in troubleshooting some website issues that would have previously left me bawling on the floor.

If you’re looking to make a career change, need to increase your tech skills for your current role, or are even just interested in learning how computers work, here are a few (and some are even free!) coding educational opportunities that can help jumpstart your technological trek:

Codecademy

I like Codecademy; so does 24 million other registered users. Their interactive classroom is so easy to use, and the resources are just fantastic; get free, and awesome online instruction on HTML & CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Python, and Ruby. It’s my #1 coding referral.

Code Avengers

Code Avengers is also pretty cool, plus it involves my favorite computer languages, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. Learn to code apps, games, and websites through their fun and interactive online course. Code Avengers offers learning support in multiple languages, and while they are not free ($29/month after the free trial), their unique platform can be really engaging.

Coursera

If you’ve seen the ads, you already know Coursera offers a little bit of everything, including, coding courses! Coursera is a for-profit entity that requires you to pay a fee to receive a completion certificate for courses; however, many of their programs are free if you’d like to audit. A beginning coder’s favorite is the Programming for Everyone course from the University of Michigan.

MIT Open Courseware

Yes, it’s that MIT, and it’s totally free! Once you get the basics of coding down (i.e., you know what HTML stands for), you make want to look into MIT’s free courseware site that includes some heavier tech speak, such as: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Introduction to Programming in Java and Practical Programming in C.

Military/Veteran Resources:

If you’re a member of the military community, you’ve got to check out two phenomenal non-profit organizations: Operation Code and MilSpouse Coders. They offer tons of free resources, round the clock online support, and even some great in-person meet-ups! And did I mention they are free?!?!

Ready to start coding?

Don’t be like me and waste time on the I-can’t-do-this myths that so often surround the elusive world of computer science. Check out the five coding resources listed above, and find an educational platform that works for you. Most of the fee priced programs offer some kind of free trial or money back guarantee; sign-up and take ‘em for a spin! Learning to code will not only provide you a super in-demand skill, but it could be just the tool you needed to turn your professional dreams into a reality!

Happy Coding!

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