So You Want To Become a Coder?

Wanna be a coder?

If you have ever thought about learning how to code, then you fit into a general trend of our times. Some argue that coding is part of being literate these days. I think that coding is a super power. If you master a programming language, you can harness the power and speed of computers to manipulate data in ways that are impossible to achieve for anyone else. The Internet and its ability to connect different systems make programming an even more exciting endeavor. It is also a skill that allows you to make a decent income. I am not kidding when I tell you that I get job offers at least once a month. If you prefer to be your own boss, you can become a freelancer like me.

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Coding is not easy, but…

Contrary to what some people want you to believe, coding is not easy, and it is most definitely not for everyone. You don’t have do be a math genius (which is a widespread belief), but you do need the ability to reason about abstract and intangible concepts.

At this point, I have to tell you that it is okay to learn how to code, and never become a coding ninja. There is a culture within the tech community that lets everyone believe they need to become incredible coding gods. Take it from someone who earns a living by being a coder – this couldn’t be further from the truth. I can tell you that being a good communicator and listener is far more important than knowing how to recursively calculate the area of a tetrahedron. Solving people’s problems is not always about finding the most complex solution! In many cases, being able to adjust to someone’s unique situation and circumstances is a much more needed skill.

So what are your options?

The obvious route to go is to get a university degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. That’s the path I chose, but I can tell you that it is an option that takes time, money and the right circumstances in life. A university education gives you the chance to dive deep into the technicalities and complexities of programming. On the other hand, they omit some important topics that you will require each and every day in your career as a coder. For example, my curriculum didn’t cover any version control techniques, and we didn’t learn about the importance of open-source.

There are also many good programmers that are self-taught. The best way to learn how to code is by starting to write code to solve a problem in your life. Maybe you want to create a website for your sports club, or your mom runs a small business that needs a custom inventory management system. Just get started, and figure out all the problems along the way. Don’t try to be perfect – there is always time for that later. There are countless free resources online that teach you the basis. Code Academy is a good starting point and if you have the discipline, MIT has its complete computer science curriculum for you online. Scott Young completed an interesting challenge during which he completed MIT’s complete 4-year computer science program for free, in just 12 months.

And then there are coding Bootcamps…

Coding Bootcamps are a good compromise if you don’t quite have the time and/or money to complete an entire university program, but you also don’t feel like doing it entirely on your own.

There are lots of Bootcamps to choose from, but I will only talk about those that I have personally experienced. BLOC is a remote version of a coding Bootcamp and I can personally vouch for its quality since I have given it a try myself. BLOC assigns you with a personal mentor that helps you navigate through its rigorous program. It’s certainly a more expensive investment, but they offer tuition reimbursement if you don’t land a job after their program.

Codeup is a San Antonio based company that teaches full-stack web development over the course of 16 weeks. I have personally served as a volunteer mentor for local Codeup students and I was always pleased with the quality of their projects. Codeup is well connected to the San Antonio tech community and I know that the majority of their graduates find jobs effortlessly after the program. Their program is a $17,500 investment.

Learn to code and do something big!

Finally, I am gonna tell you about Tech Talent South which is the best solution for individuals who have less money or time available to consider the options mentioned above. You can complete a Code Immersion program starting at $4,750 in just 8 weeks. Code Immersion will teach you all the knowledge you will need to code your own web application using HTML, CSS and the popular Ruby on Rails framework. There are also other interesting courses if you are interested in starting a company, UI/UX design, machine learning, big data, Internet of Things and many more topics.

Tech Talent South is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina but offers on-site classes in Asheville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbus, Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Antonio :-), Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. They offer a variety of courses for beginners and more advanced individuals.

I happen to teach the Code Immersion course here in San Antonio because I believe that there is no better way to deepen my own coding expertise. Who knows, maybe I’ll see one of you in the classroom, soon.

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