Learn to Program
People who program all day, every day for a living want you to believe that it’s hard. It helps them to feel smart, charge more and keep the riff raff out of the profession. Okay, some programs can get pretty complicated, but here’s the truth. They’re not ALL complicated, and if you can follow any simple recipe in the kitchen, you already have the basic skills you need understand code.
Here are four good reasons to try your hand at learning to program:
- Programming isn’t going away. We live in a techno-centric world, and the places where programming touches everyday life are increasing exponentially.
- You’re probably already doing it. If you’ve ever hooked cells together in a spreadsheet or keyed in a little addition formula, you’ve programmed.
- It will make people envy you at work. Knowing how to fix minor computer problems for yourself can be a huge confidence booster that spills over into other parts of your work.
- It’s a lot easier to start than you think. No college degree is required. You can start learning right now with free resources available online that will answer all your questions.
If you want to be a professional ballerina or an NBA center, you normally have to be born with a specific genetic advantage. Other professions like law or medicine require years of schooling and tough licensing hurdles. A little curiosity and persistence are all it takes to get into programming. The codes may look unfamiliar at first, but it’s a very straightforward way of thinking that follows simple rules you can learn. All you have to do is quit telling yourself how hard it is long enough to sit down and try.
These are just a few of the “quick start” ways to begin learning a programming language:
- Get a Taste of Ruby at TryRuby
- Join an online community like Stack Overflow
- Take online tutorials in the Khan Academy
There’s a steep learning curve to becoming a full out software engineer if you want to go beyond simple programming, so it’s good to have realistic expectations. Fair enough, but resources like these can get you up and running with the basics in a surprisingly short time. Even though the volume of online information about programming can be overwhelming, fantastic new beginner’s books are being published all the time to help you sort it all out. Community sites like Stack Overflow < http://stackoverflow.com/ > can get you quick answers to just about every beginner’s question. If you’re willing to experiment with a few languages and environments just for fun, you might find that you have a knack for it. If you get serious about it, you can always dig deeper and the demand for people with programming skills is constantly increasing. The great news is that there’s no down side. Knowing even a little bit more about the software you use every day can pay off with less stress, more personal productivity, and the cool factor of being a self-reliant problem solver. Give it a shot!
Joshua Rieken is part of the ChaiOne development team and actually dreams in code.