So you think you want to code…

I meet a lot of people who tell me that they’re interested in coding. After the movie, The Social Network, about the start of Facebook, and the TV series, Silicon Valley, about the startup Pied Piper, it seems like coding is the next hot thing to do.

This seems especially the case when:

  • people feel stagnant in their careers (This was me)
  • or they’re looking for something to do in their free time
  • or they know it pays well
  • or they just got out of school and have no idea what to pursue while their parents are telling them to get a “real job.”

Coding seems cool, and it pays well. You’re respected, and you get to dress in jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers to work. So why not?

Recommended Resources

For my friends who are interested, I recommend trying some coding first to see if they even like it before pivoting your career. Some resources I recommend are:

1. FreeCodeCamp

Free series of tutorials broken into digestible chunks. I would highly recommend this to any beginner. It was a great resource when I was learning and also has different tracks for the type of coding you are most interested in.

2. Codecademy

Lots of tutorials in different languages through highly visual videos.

3. Udemy

Udemy has plenty of great courses on programming as well as a wide variety of other topics. I didn’t get a computer science degree, but I attribute my “computer science degree” to Udemy since I learned data structures, algorithms, React, Angular, Node, and many more topics through there.

If you try your hand at coding through these resources, and you’re still interested, then coding might be for you.

Still Interested? Next steps.

If you’re still interested, you can pursue software development as a career by doing one of the following things:

  • Go to school for a computer science degree.
    A Computer Science (CS) degree is usually a 4-year college degree that teaches students the academic field of computing. This can include in-depth theories on operating systems, algorithms, machine learning, human-computer interaction and established programming practices. Tuition for a college degree generally costs between $25,000 – $40,000 for 4 years. Some schools also have accelerated CS options that are 1-2 years, which are focused only on CS classes and not so much general education classes. The big advantage of having a CS degree is that you will have a degree to show for your knowledge. As a graduate of a coding bootcamp, there have been several jobs I could not apply to because the job description required a Computer Science degree. 🙁
  • Go to a coding bootcamp.
    This is what I did. Coding bootcamp is usually about 3 months intensive, full-time, and about $10,000 – $20,000. In the time at bootcamp, you are trained specifically for a programmer job and will learn a lot of skills you can apply right away like creating apps and reading and writing from a database. However, my experience was that once I moved from Junior to Mid-Level Software Engineer, I had to go back and catch up on the computer science knowledge that many people usually learn when they get CS degrees.
  • Self-teach yourself and get experience coding projects.
    With so many online resources nowadays, you can teach yourself how to code online, and once you get a job, learn on the job. If you can’t get a job yet, you can contribute to open-source projects or volunteer on projects to gain experience to get a job. Self-teaching yoursef is probably the hardest to do, but I will say that at every development job I’ve had, there’s always at least one person I meet that is self-taught, and they’re usually amazing and highly motivated.

What about you?

Are you interested in learning how to code? If so, what is drawing you towards that? Please share below, and let’s build a community to support each other in our learning.

Learn more about the pros and cons of being a software developer.


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