Ever considered learning to code? Ever wondered - "is coding for me?" If you’re bored at work, consider yourself creative or love learning… read on!
You like to be learning
I’ve always enjoyed learning, even when I didn’t necessarily enjoy my schooling. I liked the feeling of approaching a brand new topic, having no idea where to start, and slowly feeling my way through the confusion until I began to see improvements. In new jobs, I would always be most excited about the opportunities to learn something new or be sent away to a workshop, even if the skill being learnt didn’t really excite me.
Programming is wonderful if you enjoy learning, because even once you’ve learnt how to do it well enough to get a job, the landscape’s always changing and you’ll always need to (and be presented opportunities to) continue learning whilst you work. Getting paid to learn — what could be better?!
You like doing things for yourself
It’s surprising (or maybe not) how many people make their way into the world of programming because they wanted to make something and they wanted to do it for themselves. This was true for me, too. When I was a teenager and the internet was still relatively young (marquees and blinking text were very much a thing) I wanted to make a fanpage for the TV show Casualty and I had seen similar pages out there on the internet and really wanted to build something for myself. To do this, I decided to learn how to use HTML and CSS and how to host my website. I probably could have just used a page builder but I didn’t just want the end product — I wanted to know how that I had created it myself. In the end, learning coding became the real goal and I the fanpage was of secondary importance.
If you have an idea and you want to bring it to life, you have three choices. You can use a tool to build it for you (if such a tool exists that meets your requirements) you can pay somebody else to do it, or you can learn to do it yourself. Of course, there are times when one option will be most appropriate but if the third option makes you feel excited, then perhaps you should give coding a go!
You love problem solving
When you start coding you usually begin to practice by using code to solve little problems, such as finding the maximum number in a list or calculating the tip to add to a bill. These sorts of challenges are pretty satisfying and if you enjoy them, then that’s a good sign because even building large scale applications is essentially solving lots of smaller problems. The feeling you get from solving each one, as you compose your small solutions into a bigger solution, is the same. The problems get harder, but you also get better, which works out well.
How do you know if you like problem solving? Well, think about how you feel when you play a strategy game, solve a crossword, or try and solve a logic puzzle, such as the classic ‘River Crossing’ one where you must figure out the shortest number of crossings required to move X number of people across a river with certain constraints. If you enjoy using your brain in that way then you might enjoy programming.
You enjoy being creative
When you have to solve a problem and are presented with no fixed way to do it, then you have to get creative. This is why coding satisfies the creative part of our brains. There’s a common assumption that coding is really logical and uninventive but that’s not true at all. It’s logical, yes, in that you have to work within the constraints of the logic that the computer understands. But that actually forces you to be even more creative, because you can’t just tell the computer to do whatever you want as though you were talking to your colleague.
If you don’t believe me, try it! I promise you’ll be surprised.
Plus, when you’re programming you are building real things that people will see and interact with, and you’ll get to see them appear on your screen and plan how exactly they’re going to look and work. This is also hugely satisfying and hits that creative spot.
You're bored at work
When I started working, I was disappointed to find that no matter what job I began (even ones that required a degree), it began to loose its lustre after a few months when I’d learned how to do it well. I despaired at the thought that I might never find a job that was as interesting and exciting as uni. If such jobs existed, I wasn’t sure where and I certainly didn’t know how to get the skills to enter them.
Working in tech has been a complete breath of fresh air. The industry is moving fast and doing exciting things which keeps you on your toes, and you need to be willing to constantly stretch yourself and learn new stuff. Every day presentes a different problem — no two days are the same.
Because it’s a large and growing sector of the economy, there are also a lot of different paths you might choose to take in the future (some of which don’t even exist yet or are on the cusp of becoming important, such as AI), and there is also likely a large and active community in your local area and online. These factors give the sector a sense of vitality and optimism.
Still not convinced? Why not come to Northcoders’ free coding taster session? Or if you’re excited and want to start learning how to program, check out our Introduction to Programming courses for complete beginners.
~ Harriet is the Head of Community at Northcoders