Why you should learn how to code (and where to even begin)

Why you should learn how to code (and where to even begin)
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Have you ever wondered if you should learn how to code? For most of us, the computer classes that we took in school focused on typing lessons and the basics of PowerPoint and Excel. If you were lucky, maybe you even learned some basic PhotoShop skills that have become obsolete since the last couple of Adobe overhauls. However, while members of the Millennial and Gen-Z generations are believed to be relatively tech-savvy, there is one thing that not many are proficient in: basic coding.

Today’s kids seem proficient in coding before they even enter middle school. Extracurricular coding schools and camps are proliferating how foreign language learning programs and after-school music lessons used to. And there’s no wonder why, as younger coding initiatives strive to ​​address computational thinking and problem-solving skills in kids. But, hey, it’s worth it to learn how to code as an adult, too. It’s never too late to pick up a new skill.

Why should you learn how to code?

TMS spoke with the founder and web developer behind All Home Robotics, Patrick Sinclair, about the benefits behind learning how to code as an adult.

“Firstly, and most materialistically, programming jobs inherently come with a lot of money,” Sinclair points out. “The BLS‘s average salary findings for programming jobs in 2019 were all way above average – a trend that you’ll find frequent in careers that involve programming.

Secondly, learning to write code doesn’t just mean you’re learning random keywords and programming jargon. It means you’re learning to solve problems. And problem-solving skills like that are a boon to have. You get a new perspective on challenging situations – learning to step back, look at the bigger picture and break the problem down into parts. There’s no doubt that it’ll help you out in life.

Thirdly, knowing how to code makes you very adaptable, making the course of your career flexible and opening you up to new opportunities that you never even considered before. The world of programming is really vast, and you never know just where it might come in use. And even if your job doesn’t involve any coding-related activities per se, chances are you might interact with someone at work whose job does and having perspective on the sort of work they do can give you a good common anchor point as coworkers.”

Learning how to code is a building block skill, contributing to a workable knowledge of metadata, which can be helpful in many industries, from publishing to finance. Additionally, coding is great for learning how to solve your own tech problems if there’s a mishap with your laptop or tablet. Or, if you work with a specific website, it can also be helpful in frontend interface development. But, again, you don’t have to work in tech to find the value of having practical tech knowledge.

Additionally, learning different coding languages can help women specifically, as gaining these skills can help narrow the gender gap in STEM, and therefore the gender pay gap. Historically underrepresented groups in STEM are “systematically tracked away from science and math throughout their educations.” Taking the time to reacquaint yourself with these skills, if you are part of a marginalized group, may re-spark an interest in the field of math or computers that you may have been put off from before. So, if you’ve considered if you should learn how to code – it’s worth looking into.

How to get started

Like choosing to learn a foreign language, when you pick up coding, you’ll need to decide which language to learn. HTML, Python, JavaScript and C++ are the most popular and useful computer programming languages at the moment. In actuality, HTML is the most basic coding language and is still useful when it comes to web design and metadata. So, starting with HTML will be helpful in basic comprehension of the building blocks of code.

HTML is the ideal jumping off point for most people. From there, you can choose which more complex language appeals to you the most. Python is another user-friendly language. It’s also quite widely used, more so than Java or C++. And, fun fact – its name comes from the popular British comedy show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” JavaScript and C++ are languages that are more popular for serious web development, and may be languages that you seek out after mastering Python.

In order to start learning, there are many initiatives to teach adults to code –- a ton of them are available online for free. If you want an in-person class with an instructor, you can check out your local library or community center or see if your nearest community college offers beginners courses.

Additionally, many universities offer what’s called a “coding boot camp,” which is an immersive short program to teach the basics of coding within a specific timeframe. These boot camps usually do require upfront payment, though, and are probably more useful if you are required to code for your job.

Otherwise, you can take a more personalized approach to coding by using online resources. But, of course, you’re going to need to use a computer to learn this skill anyway, so you wouldn’t really be compromising your education by doing it completely virtually.

The organization Free Code Camp offers 3,000 hours of video tutorials in different coding languages and specific skill sets – in both English and Spanish. For more hands on learning, check out Dash, One Month, or Hack Reactor. Finally, if you’re the type of person who’s always on the go and would prefer to just spend a few minutes a day – like on your commute – then you can actually pick up coding on your phone. Check out apps like Mimo, Sololearn and Grasshopper, all of which are interactive and intuitive.

Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, want to improve your brain or are looking to build up your resume, learning how to code can be an advantageous activity to look into. Or, hey, maybe you just want to figure out what they’re talking about all the time on “Mr. Robot.” Who are we to judge?

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