Christoph

@carstens.christoph

What’s the benefit of learning how to code?

In case you are wondering whether or not you should start learning how to code, read on…

Before I go into details, some brief words about myself: I am 33 years old, live in Germany — and right now, I’m in the middle of a 3-months fullstack developer Bootcamp 👨🏻‍💻. Writing this article, I like to share some of my first-hand experiences while I learn to program.

Learning to code is a big decision

Every decision that requires a lot of our lifetime should be justified. When I decided that I want to learn how to code, I knew this would take up pretty much all of my time and more so: require a great amount of energy.

Yet, there are a variety of great reasons why I believe it is a wise choice (not for all but for many) to dive deep into coding and accept this awesome and exciting challenge. In the following, I will lay out my reasons why I wanted to code and become a professional developer.

Demand for developers is high

Digitalization is no longer in its infancy and affects literally every industry out there. Developers are on the forefront of this digital movement— and therefore strongly demanded by pretty much every modern company. It is therefore not surprising, that the huge demand for smart developers exceeds the number of available developers by far. Thus, many IT positions remain vacant for longer times. Obviously, this is critical for companies but can be a good thing for those who can solve their problem (by offering their know-how as developers).

Further, I definitely like to work in a field that is highly relevant to a company. Because it means my time is worth the effort and actually affecting the outcome of the business. From practical experiences of previous jobs, I can emphasize: We all shouldn‘t waste our valuable time in a job and with activities that feel meaningless to ourselves. In the rapidly moving development sphere, I feel like I’m learning every day which is a great investment of my time!

The strong demand for IT experts has another benefit: The industry is relatively open-minded towards career changers that have not studied computer science (like me!). This is very different from university degrees like law or medicine. Since software engineering is moving much faster it’s inevitable for any successful programmer out there to continuously learn. Therefore the value of any IT-curriculum is only worth much for a few years. Any career changer who can say to have learned by own initiative how to code is proving to own the crucial skills of continuous learning.

Coding will train your creativity

One of the most compelling reasons for me was that I always wanted to acquire a rare and valuable skillset in some specific field. When I saw people coding just one or two years ago, I really admired their skills and work. To become an expert now myself, building a deep understanding in such a complex and challenging field is deeply motivating for me. Its great to see what we all are capable of once we make clear decisions and bring our full commitment to life.

When I started to code, I also understood more and more that programming is a creative task (I never thought so before…). As a developer, you can create something that is highly valuable for others out of nothing but your rare skills. Like you’re building a new app or feature from scratch. When working on the frontend you can also see immediately what you’ve built which can be very rewarding (although backend development is cool stuff as well!).

Become a problem solver

Aside from the skillset of programming itself I also see essential benefits way beyond the work life. As Steve Jobs famously said:

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art.”

I couldn’t agree more. Learning to code helps me to think more clearly in general. Why? Because developers train their analytical thinking every single day. Also, when coding it‘s usual that you are confronted with challenges that you can’t solve immediately. If you don’t like to keep going when it gets tough (in business and private life), well — you will definitely train this important skill while coding.

A good developer will also be someone who is good at breaking down big challenges into small chunks that are solved step-by-step. An approach I find useful in many other areas of life as well. And since continuous learning is such an important topic developers are also usually very good at leaving their comfort zone to work with new technologies.

Choose what type of work you prefer

Another huge advantage is that developers benefit from great flexibility. There are many ways to work in development other than the typical salaried employee in a large company. Here are some examples:

  • Startup: For most startups, developers are the key persons when building up the company. Therefore chances to get hired in this area are great (also it is really valuable for learning!).
  • Self-employment: Developers often get hired as freelancers. Almost all medium- to large-sized companies work with IT-freelancers to fill some gaps in know-how or staff more people on a growing project without going through the long process of hiring new employees. For those you like to work individually and be their own boss, this is a great opportunity.
  • Agency/Consulting: If you are looking for new projects on a regular basis or like to work with various new technologies then working for an external service provider like an agency or IT consultancy is a very interesting choice.
  • Remote: A growing number of jobs in IT is offered remote. Which is not surprising since all a developer needs are his/her skills and a laptop. And while „remote work” is still new in Germany it is getting more popular in the war for talents. Especially startups as well as international companies are opening up for this type of work. So if you dream about traveling the world while working, going into development can be a smart choice.
  • Entrepreneurship: If you know how to code it’s much easier to build up your own company and e.g. develop an app. So if you dream about running your own firm knowing how to code is great since you will save huge costs and can start with low risk.

As you may see by now, there are several and more so very different great reasons why you should learn how to code. One of the most important reasons — if not the most important one — I have not mentioned yet: It’s great fun and a very rewarding thing to do! I feel good every time I open up my code editor and work on a feature.

Obviously, coding cannot be right for everybody since we’re all unique. To see if it’s for me, I just started a small WordPress site and played around with the code. With this bit of first practical experience, I could see that I really liked it and continue from there step-by-step.

I hope laying out my reasons why learning to program can be a great choice was inspiring for you. I am convinced its a great way to go…

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