How to Code: SXSW Interactive Panelists Provide Tips to Achieve Coding Dreams

Best tips straight from “The Learn to Code Movement” panel

(Image: Mike Street)

Technology specialist and longtime South by Southwest (SXSW) attendee Adria Richards led a strong and well-attended panel on why software programming has emerged as the hottest career path within the technology sector.  Her panel entitled, “The Learn To Code Movement,” included well-known coding community gurus like Noah Kagan and Sasha Laundry, outlined several key thoughts and resources on how and why this field has become so demanding. The work hours are long, but the financial gain can be great given that software programmers are in high demand and earn large salaries.

Getting into this industry requires training and skill across various software languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, and Javascript. Being a specialist in one or two serves best to be considered competitive in the job market.

When Cathryn Posey, founder of Tech By Superwomen, posed the question to the panel, “How do you feel about this need to code becoming so vast?” Laundry summed it up best: “It’s all about purpose.  “Figure out what the end goal is and take the benefit of what coding can help one learn,” she adds. “It’s an opportunity to tinker and play online by building something with utility.”

When deciding to become a developer or programmer, consider the effort and investment in learning before jumping straight in, advised the panelists. The cost of education, understanding the culture, the difficulty, and really doing the work plays a huge role in the decision making process for a budding beginner or novice. View coding and developing as a way to help you solve problems structurally as opposed to creatively. Diving into the tech space prepares you for the future of Internet development and many view this career transition as a way to revise their digitally savvy self-image.

Here are the top six resources to use when it comes to becoming the ultimate coder:

Starter League / http://www.starterleague.com / @starterleague – (CHICAGO) – Classes with Starter League are offered four times per year in Chicago. Students can learn HTML, CSS, UX Design, and web development. Sessions last 3 month with students presenting finished web apps upon graduation.

Code Academy / http://CodeAcademy.com / @codeacademylog (Online) – If you’re the type of person who wants to learn on their own then Code Academy is a good place to start. The site lets you sign up and begin learning the basics of programming at your own pace. You can earn awards/badges for completing courses and leveling up on the site.

Meetup.com / Meetup.com - @Meetup (ONLINE/AREAS VARY) Meetup has tons of mini communities dedicated to various activities, professional networking, and tech awareness. Create an account and search around for groups committed to the programming language that you are most interested in, and jump into their circle.  The wealth of knowledge will prove useful and you can network with professionals in the programming field for future career opportunities and educational resourcing.

Hacker School / https://www.hackerschool.com / @hackerschool – (NEW YORK) This coding resource offers coding education intensives for the right applicants.  The 2013 summer session is currently accepting submissions up until March 28th. With Hacker School, support coming in from startups that directly recruit from the graduating class of students, you are definitely getting the biggest bang for your buck. Increased opportunity for future employment really sells this resource as something to consider.  Housing is not provided but, given the notoriety of this program, it might be worth it to sublet an apartment for the summer and dive head first into this worthwhile educational experience.

General Assembly / https://generalassemb.ly / @GA – (ONLINE, NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO/BERLIN/LONDON/HONG KONG, BOSTON, LOS ANGELES, SYDNEY) General Assembly is the most expensive resource to consider out of this list, but this route allows you to take your investment into learning seriously. Consider the factor of structure and accountability when it comes to really diving into coding. While free resources are great, consider how much guidance you need in order to succeed.

Find A Mentor – Research and contact developers at digital and tech companies that are building apps and tech products for things that interest you and develop relationships.  Take them to lunch, ask for advice, get to know their world, and seek out guidance on the best ways to step your foot into the developer space.  Be genuine when it comes to learning and it will pay off.

Follow BlackEnterprise.com’s coverage of 2013 South by Southwest at blackenterprise.com/technology.

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