We have Hollywood movies to thank for the public’s somewhat warped perception of coding. We’re all too familiar with the bespectacled-super-genius-furiously-typing-as-sleek-but-meaningless-graphics-rotate-on-a-screen trope.
In reality, using code is less of a HIIT workout for the fingers and more scouring Stack Overflow to figure out why your program isn’t working. Coding gets a bit of a bad rap — it’s often considered complicated to understand and even harder to get into. But while there are certainly challenges to coding and software development, it can also be a highly rewarding skill to learn.
With many opportunities available for people with coding skills, the advantages outweigh the challenges. So, with that in mind, let’s debug some common misconceptions about coding.
You have to learn multiple languages
Did you know that since the 1800s, there have been nearly 9000 computing languages (most of which are no longer in use)?
The idea of needing to use several languages interchangeably in order to code sounds overwhelming. Imagine needing to learn French, Spanish and German all at once.
Fortunately, while knowing multiple languages is advantageous, it’s not essential, especially when starting out. While each programming language is different, the same basic principles underpin them all. So, our recommendation is simply to start learning one language at first.
Most people choose one of the most popular languages (usually one of the big three we mentioned above) to begin with. After you’ve learnt your first programming language, the next one will come much more easily.
Coding languages are constantly changing
This is true! Programs constantly receive updates, and developers need to be able to work within changing environments.
This idea could be pretty intimidating to a new coder — what’s the point of trying to learn something that will be defunct in a few years’ time?
But think about it this way: change is part and parcel of a prosperous industry. Just think about how technology like laptops, phones and even AI has changed in the past five years — these developments are all a result of constant innovation.
While it’s true that developers need to update themselves on the latest changes consistently, this fact should also be a reassuring one. Everyone in the industry is learning, so new coders can never be truly behind.
Because programs change so frequently, people who have already acquired essential soft skills like resilience, problem-solving and patience are well suited to this environment.
Learning to code takes a lot of practice
Just like mastering any skill, you will need to devote time to learning to code — it’s not something that you can pick up in just a day or two.
Coding is something that you need to practice to get good at. But is there any skill you possess that didn’t take at least a degree of practice? Learning to play an instrument, scoring a goal, or even progressing at work — whatever your achievements, they probably took an element of learning and repetition before you got there.
The fact that learning to code takes practice doesn’t make it an unattainable skill — and it certainly shouldn’t put you off trying!
It’s hard to get started with coding
While it’s true that you can learn to code in your own time, learning how to code is so much easier when you’re following a set program guided by experts.
If you want to get into coding, taking some classes is a good idea. Upskilling courses can support you with evening and weekend classes or intensive bootcamps that are led by specialists in the industry.
When you follow an accredited program, you can develop a technical portfolio, giving you tangible evidence of your experience. This makes you more employable and opens up doors in a way that going alone might not.
So, is coding as hard as it seems?
While learning to code certainly comes with its fair share of challenges, programming is not the rocket-science-esque profession that the movies make it out to be.
Our advice? Give it a try! You can attend beginner coding sessions for a relatively low time and cost commitment. That way, you can decide whether a career involving coding could be in your future.
Photo credit: McIek/Shutterstock
Killian McAleese is Marketing Manager at CodeClan. Killian is an Edinburgh-based marketing professional with more than ten years of experience. He has worked with digital technology businesses, digital agencies and within the education sector.”