If you work for an internet company, learn how to code

This article is about my opinion that understanding the principles of programming is valuable in a lot of jobs, especially if you work for an internet company. You can probably get away with not knowing how to code for a few more years, but it’s a skill that’s already in high demand and will only be valued more in the future.

Young people grow up with current technology and a lot of them know how to code at a very early age. We live in a world with computers, the internet, programs and apps everywhere, wouldn’t it be great to have a basic knowledge how this things work?

Why you should learn how to code

Let’s face it, knowing how to use a computer interface won’t bring you very far in a few years. Here are some reasons why you should learn how to code:

  • You will make better technology decisions:
    When you get more tech-savvy, you make better tech decisions and that can save your company a lot of money. On the one side, you can avoid introducing bad technology into your system. On the other side, if you understand your IT guys, there will probably be less iterations in product development because of fewer misunderstandings.
  • You will be more productive:
    Coding can be many things, from creating a macro in Excel to building a website about your hobby. If you master the tools you use on a daily basis, you will be more productive. It’s also about working smarter. You can often automate time-consuming tasks with a few simple lines of code.
  • You will get a better and more interesting job:
    Totally true for technology and internet companies. The more useful stuff you know, the more you will get paid. I don’t mean that you will replace the IT department, but you will know how to do some basic coding stuff yourself, like formating a HTML newsletter. I think, a marketing or sales person who knows how to change a HTML snippet in a WordPress post without help from IT should be paid more and get more responsibility.
  • You will have fun:
    Coding is fun, because these days, you can create cool stuff with very little code, just take WordPress for an example. You have a cool website up and running in no time. Programming is about creating useful stuff and that is fun. Who knows, maybe you hit a nerve and create something people are willing to pay for.

What to learn

Here are my suggestions on some coding skills sorted by difficulty and sequence of learning. But it also depends on what job you are doing. If you are not sure what to learn, ask a developer what’s the nearest scripting/coding language related to your job:

  • Excel: Learn formulas and all the more advanced stuff (no, coloring and sorting your rows is not advanced, sorry ;)). Many problems can be solved with spreadsheets, so use the power!
  • HTML: Very easy to learn and very useful in all kinds of areas, like content management, blogging, emails, etc.
  • jQuery: The easy form of JavaScript, highly recommended for web designers.
  • SQL: Databases are everywhere, knowing how the get data out of them is very handy in a lot of jobs.
  • PHP: A server-side programming language. WordPress is made in PHP, for example. I recommend PHP because it’s easy to learn, yet very powerful.

Of course, there are also “real” programming languages like Java, C#, etc. I suggest, you learn the internet related stuff instead, it will probably be more useful for you in the future, because everything will be online.

How to learn coding

Again, I’m not talking about becoming a full-time hacker who sits in a dark room all day. It’s about learning the basics and if you are interested, get deeper into a language you are comfortable with. It’s also about creating stuff.

Here are some tips and resources on how to learn coding:

  • Pick a project: My favorite way to learn is by simply doing it. Specify what you want to built and then do it. You have a great app idea? Get the tools and learn how to code it!
  • Patience: Be patient if things don’t work the first time you try them. Coding takes time to learn.
  • Ask the Internet: You can find a solution for every coding problem imaginable. If not, join a coding forum and ask your question
  • Coding learning sites: There are great “learn programming” sites out there like Codecademy or W3Schools.
  • Use up-to-date resources: Be sure to pick up up-to-date resources and books. You do not want to know what a font-tag is 😉

Just do it!

I’m a long-time software developer and I love it. Why? Because everyday, I create things and make useful things better. It’s a great feeling and it makes the world a better place. There is also this knowledge that if I want to, I can change everything I want. Most people are not aware of that and take things like they are.

Getting more tech-savvy is a good thing, especially in this ever-changing world we are living in. If you choose to give programming a go, don’t give up and share your progress with others. Most of all, have fun! :)

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