Developing the basics: Why learn to program

Posted on by David Watson

<< Previous post of this series Next post of this series >>

Everyone goes on about all the reasons to learn new skills, citing it helps you succeed, stay relevant in the workforce and change your career. But these are all reasons industry wants you to learn skills. You will succeed because you can fill gaps in the company which otherwise they would need to hire someone else in to fill. You would be relevant as you would have the skills the business needs. Career change, of course: there are much more opportunities for someone who can program as there is a huge skill shortage of technical people. There are 627,000 unfilled technical occupations in the US alone. Why though, if you don’t care about all of that, is learning to program beneficial to you specifically?

A sign of the times

Lifelong learning is a term which has recently become more and more prevalent. Everyone is more educated than they have ever been before. Information is readily available to us all through more innovative ways on the internet. This means that the whole landscape has changed and now it is even more competitive, and people are competing with each other on the skills more than ever, leaving those unwilling to learn in the dust.

Learning as a process can take up a lot of your free time. To learn a new skill is often much harder than just reading a book and putting it on your CV, it requires practice and dedicated study. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is needed to become an expert in anything. So why then should you learn new skills and more specifically why should you take the time to learn to code?

Me, myself and function(i)

For me, the reasons to learn how to code are wholly different. I love my job; I like writing and creating. I wouldn’t at this point in my life ever consider changing to a career in software development. So why would someone like me ever want to learn a skill that won’t directly impact my work? The answer: options. Who knows what the future holds. If you can give yourself skills then you have options, opportunities begin to present themselves to you. I know that by learning to program I can set myself apart from a lot of other people. Broadening your skill set with things that are not common in your field might just be the differentiator which you rely on in the future.

Everyone has their own reasons

If you want a list of all the reasons to learn how to code, here is a rundown on why you should start right now.

For your career. It is a given that learning new skills is beneficial to your career. Technical skills are always in demand, and there are thousands of job opportunities for people who can fill them. They offer some great career prospects as often you can fill positions and take advantage of opportunities in a world of constantly evolving technology. If this is your motivation to learn to code, then this on its own is already a pretty good reason.

For fun. Being able to create whatever you want sounds incredible to most people. By learning how to code you can play about with projects and do things other people might only dream of. You are empowered to make whatever your heart desires, and the incredible part is that it is completely scalable; you can distribute whatever you make to the world and make a huge impact.

For your kids. If you have kids, or plan on having kids; being able to code yourself is kind of helpful. Kids today are growing up in a whole different world to the one we knew. In a world dominated by software, not knowing how to code will be the equivalent of being illiterate. Computing curriculums are being introduced to help kids master these skills, but a little help from mom and dad will definitely help.

Learn about this world. Technology is running the world. By knowing even just the fundamentals, you will be able to understand how it all works together. This kind of insight can help you make better decisions as you can inform your own opinions on the technology and options available to you; which can be very useful when it comes to making purchases, for instance.

Learn to think. “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think,” said Steve Jobs. Learning to code is learning to problem solve. Breaking down big problems into small problems and fixing them logically opens you up to a new way of thinking, which can make a huge difference in what you see as limitations to what you can achieve as instead, you have a method for overcoming them.

Change the World, or just your world

You don’t have to create the next social media platform, or incredible search engine. You actually don’t have to learn code with the goal of creating any kind of enormous business – though this is a possible – but you can create solutions to some of your own problems. It is a powerful tool which you can use to automate and remove tasks which you don’t want to have to do, but which are not going to do themselves… Until now.

Coding is about possibilities and options. With this tool in your belt, you can create and solve your own issues. Give yourself a skill which can help not only your career but your life.

In summary, here is an infographic on reasons to learn to program:

learn_to_program_dtb_infographic

<– In case you missed what this is all about