“I’ve watched some Udemy online course videos, but I couldn’t get the instructor’s code to work so I gave up.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I’d have more than a pocketful of nickels. Learning to code is a marathon, not a sprint, and you should know what you’re getting into before you invest a lot of time into it.
There are a lot of great reasons to pursue a career in technology. The tech industry is booming. Open jobs totaling $21 billion worth of payroll are currently available in the U.S., and there are no signs of a slow down. Tech is also one of the highest paying industries and it’s increasingly becoming one you can break into without having to go back to school to get a two- or four-year college degree.
So how do you join the party? It all comes down to being a continual learner, finding the learning resources that fit your budget as well as your schedule, and staying motivated.
Finding the Right Learning Resource for You
First, let’s talk about those learning resources. The great thing about learning new technology skills is that there are so many free or relatively inexpensive learning resources available online to get started. Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and the Mozilla Developer Network are excellent free resources to dip your toes into and learn some of the basics. If you are starting from scratch, start with these before considering paying a single dollar towards another learning platform.
Spend a few weeks using these free resources and if you find that it’s starting to click, you have a few different options for how you can take the next step and learn more. Udemy, Pluralsight, and Udacity are learning platforms that have self-paced video courses on a variety of topics and technologies and are relatively low cost (in the hundreds of dollars).
Coding bootcamps are another option. Eleven Fifty Academy (shameless plug, I was one of the co-founders) is an option based here in Indianapolis. This is a 12-week intensive, in-person program that is designed to quickly elevate you from knowing absolutely nothing about coding to a junior developer status. The price is about $13,000, but there are scholarships available for women and minority groups.
Another paid resource is our program, PropelUp. We are an individualized, flexible learning program that pairs people up with industry professionals. These gurus, as we call them, help individuals determine what they should be learning and steer them toward the best and most cost effective learning resources. The gurus also help individuals stay motivated and focused, to achieve their ultimate goal — whether that’s getting a job or learning a new skill if they’re already employed.
Fighting Through The Urge to Quit & Staying Motivated
Regardless of the learning resources you use, one of the biggest challenges you will face is staying motivated to push past the beginning. Although these are all great programs, it can be quite difficult to learn by yourself through online resources, especially if it’s a new experience for you. If you are learning on your own, you should also attend local meetups. Search for any technology, software or platform and you will probably find a meetup for it to network with others with similar interests. This could also lead to job opportunities!
Bootcamps are another great option for this reason, in that you are going through this experience with a group of peers. If you are using something like FreeCodeCamp, there is a great forum support network and local meetups for individuals using their curriculum.
Shifting Your Attitude and Securing A Job
“How long will it take me to find a job?” — another question I get a lot and the answer is a resounding “it depends”. It depends on your background and experience. It depends on how in-demand the technologies you are learning are. It depends on the rate at which you’re able to learn and your attitude towards learning new things. That’s a very broad response, I know, but the biggest factor I’ve observed has been attitude. Those who approach entering this field with a hunger and desire to learn, and those who are able to convey that to a potential employer, are the most successful.
Don’t be afraid to present yourself as a journeyman or journeywoman who should be trusted with an opportunity. You have to remember that employers are constantly thinking, “is this person worth hiring as a long-term investment?” Honesty and recognition of your true skill level will be key in the interview process. You must be confident, but don’t fall into “imposter syndrome” and undervalue yourself.
Technology jobs are very demanding and incredibly rewarding. The world is being “eaten” by software, and coding is a skill that will remain highly valuable for decades to come (yes, even with the advent of AI). These jobs can be filled by just about anyone with the curiosity and dedication to being a lifelong learner. There has never been greater access to quality, affordable learning resources that can help close skill gaps and allow individuals to keep pace in an ever-changing world of technology. Get started now and never stop learning.
About the Author
Nick Birch is the founder and CEO of PropelUp, a learning platform for software developers. Whether you are just getting started or looking to skill up, their Gurus help you level up your skills.