Why Every Millennial Should Learn Some Code
Technology is everywhere
Thousands of companies across industries are relying on technology to power their business operations. “I can’t think of any company that doesn’t have technology embedded in their operations in some shape or form,” says Evan Leong, cofounder of Fount.
Regardless of your specific role, he believes learning to code “will vastly increase your potential in becoming a valuable asset at any organization.” Or, if you don’t have a job yet, it can be what helps you edge out the competition during the hiring process.
Improve your problem-solving and logic skills
If you’ve always thought of yourself as more of the artist type–right-brained, creative–then coding can help you gain balance. Prior to teaching himself code, Leong navigated life based on feelings and gut instinct alone: “When questioned on the logic of my decisions, I struggled to articulate them in comprehensible steps.”
Logic, problem solving, and organization are some of the cornerstones of programming, and practicing with code helps you exercise that “left” side of the brain. According to Leong, “Learning to code has not only helped me process the rationale behind my own thinking, but has increased my ability to create more well-thought-out decisions through organizing my thoughts and intentions.”
It makes you better at what you already do
Astrid Countee is an anthropologist and a web developer. On the face of it, those careers don’t have much in common — but Countee knew she could fit coding into her life as an anthropologist, rather than paving over her past.
So she made her own website, started a blog, and began to write about her journey “learning how to weave together my programming career with my previous training as a social scientist.”
Coding doesn’t restrict you to a career in tech: it enhances the career, skills, or interests you already have. “The most exciting part is that I can now build my own brand online for any of my interests,” says Countee. “I never would have felt that I could do that on my own before I learned how to code.”
Coding know-how can lead to other (and often better) opportunities
Shortly after Leong launched his app and began selling it, his former online instructor got in touch to offer him a job. “He was recruiting early employees to build a learning platform that delivers coding bootcamp quality content for a fraction of the cost,” Leong says. “This immediately resonated with me.”
Within a few months, the Devslopes team was ready to launch, and they are currently in the process of bringing their platform to the world.
And who knows — maybe Leong’s experience working with this company will lead to even more opportunities later. Networking and experience are gifts that keep on giving.
Coding skills give you flexibility
When you’re marketable, you have leverage. You’re freer to take risks. And you’re more able to bounce back when things go wrong.
Countee always dreamed of having her own business, so once she learned how to build websites with Ruby on Rails, she got started as a freelancer (while keeping her full-time job). “That meant that when I experienced a layoff, I didn’t have to immediately run to the next open position,” she explains. “I had the option of continuing with my freelance work.”
Thanks to having such a useful skill, Countee says, “I feel that I have the room to try things that I might not have otherwise.”
In business, it allows you to understand both sides of the equation
Having coding know-how equips you to better understand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a business. “At other companies, I often see a constant struggle between engineers and businesspeople,” says Leong. “In most cases, it stems from misunderstanding what each group does and the processes involved to get the job done.”
Whether your role is a team leader, office manager, marketer, content creator, or something else, if you understand coding, you won’t have that disconnect. Leong has seen this firsthand: “After having experience on both sides of the table, I am able to tackle issues with a wider breadth of fresh ideas and create win-win situations on either side of the equation.”
It’s like a super power
“I believe that learning how to code is like learning a super power in today’s world,” says Countee. In a world where good software, apps, and websites matter, it’s powerful to be able to create those things yourself.
She notes that this power can be especially valuable for liberal arts majors: “The future should not only be built by computer scientists and engineers. There needs to be significant input from the painters, writers, political thinkers and social scientists that study and respond to our culture.”
Coding allows you to build your own platform and give yourself a voice.
You can cut your business costs
If you’re a business owner, it can save you a lot of money to handle development and tech issues yourself. “Whether you decide to create a technology company or not, learning to code will empower you to solve technical problems that you might have to end up hiring or outsourcing otherwise,” Leong says.
Examples include “learning to code to alter your website, or creating scripts to automate processes [that] will decrease turnaround time, decrease costs, and thus increase efficiency.”
Anyone can learn it
It doesn’t matter if you were an English major in college…or didn’t go to college…or were raised by wolves (well, maybe). “I was always interested in coding, but due to my artistic and creative nature I was always told it never ‘played to my strengths,’” Leong says. “I know it sounds cliche, but if I can do it anyone can.”
Countee believes that when you break it down, learning to code isn’t much different from learning to read and write. “Whether you realize it or not, learning to read is hard. [But] all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, learned how to read. I think that code is the same way. Yes, it is hard, but it is possible.”
It’s rewarding, empowering, and can change your life
“The experience of learning a new language was definitely a tough one, but it was extremely rewarding in the end,” says Leong. “Learning to code has literally changed my life.
Countee agrees: “Learning to code has given me the ability to take risks and bet on myself.”
If you don’t feel like you’re ready, know that no one is. Start small, just a few minutes every day. As time goes by, you’ll find yourself understanding more and more. Just don’t give up. As Countee concludes, “It has nothing to do with talent or aptitude. It has everything to do with practice and perseverance.”
What are you waiting for? Start learning to code today for free.