So You Want To Learn To Code...

How I Started My Learning Journey

So You Want To Learn To Code...

Learning to code is not for everyone but almost anyone can learn to code. If you have an inkling of interest in learning programming and software development, read on and get started!

Consider A Coding Bootcamp

Software development schools, also known as coding bootcamps, are booming, and for good reasons. They help you learn hard technical skills to start a fulfilling new career in a short amount of time. A good program will also foster soft skills like clear communication, time management, and teamwork, as well as offer job-seeking support upon completion. After seven years as an elementary educator, I enrolled at Turing School of Software & Design in January 2020 and am now a full-time software developer!

Research Your Options

There are many different types of programs. Take time to research your options and consider the best type of program for you. Course Report is a great resource for comparing different coding schools. You will want to consider the best bootcamp model for you: Full-Time In-Person, Full-Time Remote, Self-Paced, or Part-Time Career-Focused. Costs of different programs and options for financing vary. Curriculum also varies so take some time to research the different areas of focus: Web Development, Programming and Computer Science, or Data Science.

Try Free Resources for Learning

Before committing to any program, do some independent learning to make sure that you are interested in the content. I started with the free courses on Codecademy. You may even decide that you want to teach yourself to code through self-study rather than a bootcamp. The Odin Project and freeCodeCamp are two completely free full stack curriculums! Full-stack software development covers front-end web development (what the user sees and interacts with) as well as back-end server-side development. I recommend picking one area to focus your learning on initially (front-end or back-end) but ultimately you will probably do full-stack work to some degree.

Know Your Why

Whether you attend a program or go the self-study route, know why are you dedicating your time to learning to code. Whatever path you choose, it won't be easy but it will be worth it if you stick to it. I like to use the five whys technique. Start by asking yourself "Why do I want to learn to code?" then use that answer to continue asking yourself why until you get to a core answer. Here is an example:

  1. Why do I want to learn to code? I want to learn to code because it will open up more opportunities.
  2. Why do I want to open up more opportunities? I want to open up more opportunities that are flexible and sustainable.
  3. Why do I want to have more flexible and sustainable opportunities? I want to have a more flexible and sustainable career because I experienced burnout as a teacher.
  4. Why was I burnt out in my last career? I was burnt out in my last career because I wasn't given professional respect and necessary support.
  5. Why do you need respect and support? I need respect and support at work so that I can be a full and happy person at home.

Everyone will have a different why. Knowing mine kept me going when learning was hard and helped me focus my job search on companies with an emphasis on work-life balance. Know your why and come back to it when you have doubts.

Build Your Community

Getting involved in developer communities will not only help you learn but likely get you your first job. A good coding bootcamp comes with a built-in community of classmates, instructors, and alumni but that's not the only way to grow your network. If you are reading this, you've probably already stumbled upon the great developer community at Hashnode. I joined Twitter when I started learning to code to interact with developers and follow technical topics. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there by sharing your learning wins or challenges using hashtags like #CodeNewbie and #100DaysOfCode. Stack Overflow is another great place to ask and answer questions. Volunteering with my local Women Who Code chapter connected me with some amazing women in tech, including mentors. I found my first apprenticeship and full-time position through connections on LinkedIn.

Just Keep Learning

If you choose to pursue a career involving coding, you will always be learning. Knowing how to learn and how you learn best is important. I took a free course called Learning How To Learn before I really dug into code. Embracing a growth mindset from the beginning will help you wherever your journey leads. Make a plan for learning and take things one day at a time. A little bit of practice every day goes a long way and will ensure you don't burn out before you've even really started. If you fall out of practice or feel like giving up, come back to your why and begin again.

Please share if you found this information helpful or comment with any questions. Thank you for reading!