Why Learning to Code is Like Making a Really Dank Pie

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My career is delicious.
My career is delicious.

Mmmm, pie. So sweet. So chewy. So full of more ingredients than just fruit and crust.

If the pie is your career, coding is the fruit filling. Or the baking soda. Or the eggs (are you making your crust from scratch? For the purpose of this metaphor, YOU’RE MAKING YOUR CRUST FROM SCRATCH). Learning to code if you work in business or marketing can be just one of the many ingredients that make up a successful career.

But what is coding, exactly? And should you learn it?

The Age of Coding

The reasons for learning a code language are as varied as the languages themselves. While the term “digitally native” has been bandied about recently in reference to Generation Z, or the technologically hip generation born in the early 2000s through present day, experts like TED speaker Mitch Resnick do not agree that interacting with technology frequently equals fluency.

Instead, Resnick states, it is in creating new technologies that we become fluent. Consider the difference between reading a book and writing one. While reading is a highly-evolved and necessary skill in modern society, writing indicates a mastery of language that produces a tangible result. Coding a new website, like writing a novel, takes skill, focus, and drive, and produces a new, functional creation that did not exist before.

Understanding and fluently “speaking,” or using, one or more code languages is quickly becoming a standard skill in industries spanning the corporate and creative continuum. So what’s your role, if any, in this coding revolution?

Why Learn to Code?

There are thousands of programming languages. Some, like JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, are relatively simple to learn and can help you understand and develop useful applications, as well as tweak your blogging CMS when necessary. Others are more complex and specialized, like Julia, and are intended for use in technical computing.

So why should you learn to code, and what language should you learn first, if at all?

Mastery of a code language can help you:

  • Impress potential employers: If you have a knack for coding, technology-driven startups are looking for proof in the pudding. Turn your brilliant ideas into a talking-and-walking prototype, and you’ve set yourself apart from much of your competition.

  • Understand and assist with product development: If a website goes down, basic coding knowledge can help you find and resolve the problem. Understanding code can also help you estimate time frames on new development so you can manage projects accurately.

  • Grow your brain: Working with a new code language is a great mental challenge. Put your crossword puzzle away and grow new synapses through editing existing code templates or building your own site from scratch.

If you’re learning code with the intention of making it your life’s work, study hard and hang onto your hat, because you’ll be up against some of the most talented, ground-shifting coders in the business.

If, however, you have a career path in business or marketing and would like to supplement your skills with one or more languages, consider your new skills one of many ingredients that make you a powerful employee and a worthy asset to any company.

codeWhat Coding Won’t (Necessarily) Do for You

While learning to code can help you round out your skillset and take on new challenges, it will not (most likely) help you do the following:

  • Go from middle to celebrity-level income in one fell swoop: There will be no paparazzi outside your door throwing unmarked bags of hunnies at you once you’ve picked up HTML. If you take on a new role at work that involves your newly-learned coding skills, then you should negotiate for an increase in pay. However, coding in and of itself is considered a standard skill in technological industries and will not, on its own, turn you into a billionaire overnight.

  • Fill in massive gaps in your resume: Many of us have experienced those weird transitional times when we switch industries or change jobs and lack enough marketable skills to compete. Coding can help you beef up your resume, for sure, but if your goal is to land a job at the head of a marketing company, you’ll need a host of other skills and experience to do so.

Getting Started

So now you know coding won’t cook you a steak dinner and guarantee you an RSVP from Mark Zuckerberg. Great! And you’re still interested in taking on this fantastic, career-enhancing educational journey. Double great!

There are many valuable coding resources available online. They range in price from free, to free classes with a paid certificate of completion, to paid-but-worth-it, to paid-and-only-worth-it-if-your-company-pays-for-it (which many do; Webfor offers employees $500 a year to “get schooled,” so check with your employer if applicable).

Sites like Lifehacker and eWeek offer excellent lists of the most important code languages to date. The following resources can help you start learning now AND get in contact with a community of new coders, just like you!

  • Codecademy: A great place to start! You can learn how to write simple commands using JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, and Ruby.

  • Girl Develop It: This coding program encourages women of all ages, races, educational levels, and income to build their web development skills.

  • Code Racer: This one’s just plain fun. Build a website using HTML and CSS and test your adeptness with this multi-player live game. Built for education AND enjoyment.

  • W3 Schools: These free online tutorials are fun and easy to navigate. When completed, send away for a $95 online certificate.

Looking for more resources? The Ted Blog has provided a detailed list of places where you can access coding materials. So go ahead and sweeten up your career with a tech-savvy skillset. As they say at W3 Schools, “HTML is easy to learn – You will enjoy it.”