Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

From unemployed and afraid of maths to software developer

How you can cross that bridge and get into programming without a computer science degree.

I tried to compile a few of the tactics that helped me to become an employed developer (with no ‘formal’ engineering or computer science training).

From learning how to code to get a job in software development and exemplify how you can do it for a living, or at least how it could be an extra source of material for navigating life with a cool skill if you so choose.

First Convince Yourself

It has to be the first thing that you do for and by yourself. I must warn you, for me, it was the one that took the longest. Try to trick yourself into becoming a programmer as soon as humanly possible, and get out there to find out how, while you are psyched about the idea.

This right now, is me talking you into it, go for it, you can do anything!

Because motivation goes a long way when you are starting to learn something new, and in programming, motivation, drive, and grit is what will get that dream you have built.

Get a clear idea of what you want to do or accomplish with development

This step is usually very straightforward. You can draw inspiration from whichever goals you already have in life, or draw inspiration from your own set of personal beliefs or childhood frustrations or dreams. But it could also be something more grown-up, such as your commitment to critical social issues or merely the need for earning a decent living wage.

If you are a visual person, then you could try and brainstorm all of it, while creating your mind-map in an app like GoConqr.

Right now a few places where computer science is taking the lead is in areas that are so commonplace nowadays but didn’t even exist a few decades ago. Like artificial intelligence and machine learning, but not just there, as software needs exist everywhere.

Starting from necessities like finding the solutions for simple daily problems, or improving on existing ones, you could then scale up your work into solving more significant global issues, or making algorithms that make processes more efficient, analyse data, and discover trends for various markets. You could write programs that work with hardware, and then make automation possible. You can also develop software that makes major contributions to the fields of physics or biology. You could even help transform the pharmaceutical industry or advance space science and our understanding of the universe.

The fact is, software development is changing the landscape of the world for humanity, and you can be involved in it, from a small to a large scale, all you have to do is decide where and when.

Find out a coding language that is intuitive for you and start learning it

What is intuitive for me sometimes is not for someone else. That’s why I say figure that out for yourself.

If you think you understand front-end languages like HTML/CSS better than back-end ones like JavaScript once you get started, great! Start with them, or you have an innate maths affinity or background, you may feel that languages such as Elm and Phyton are more familiar instead, and that is already a big hint as to where you could start.

There is no need to start with something you will have a lot of difficulties grasping, just because you don’t know where to start. I didn’t have a technological background, so I researched, and language that could counter that found out about Ruby.

Ruby, is a programming language created to appear as familiar conversational English instead of your usual high-level syntax based languages, so I chose it for that, as it worked out splendidly to set me on the path for understanding abstraction well.

Search for yours, and you will find it. Try a bunch of different ones on websites like Codecademy or Udemy. Keep well informed about the ones already around, stay curious and practicing until you find the one that clicks.

You will surely know when you find The One, everyone does.

Join an in-person class or teaching institution only if you think their references would make you more hire-able as a junior

Now that you chose the language you have the most rapport with, you have to not only learn it thoroughly to build relevant apps, but you have to get yourself to the skill level that makes you hire-able. For me, that was the factor that turned the decision of joining a boot-camp into an easier one. They were the bridge into the job market that I didn’t have.

I searched for a web development program that could incorporate a boot-camp experience and had proven access into the development job market. The Codaisseur Academy checked all the boxes for me.

Once there they were realistic about the hard work involved and clear about the expectations that would soon follow while still being kind about my potential, even with my non-developer educational background.

The boot-camp accelerated the real-life requirements of my coding skills and the brief, high-intensity lessons that lasted no more than nine weeks were designed to expose us to all these new techniques and to develop full-stack products with cutting-edge technologies that were in high demand in the local job pool.

However, there is nothing that could help me prepare for what I was getting into, the lessons were tough, and the speed that I had to absorb content was maddening. It was a challenging experience that is over after your contract is signed, so there is a big gamble for both parties for a while, as you don’t want to have wasted your time, and they need to recover training costs.

But it has been paying off big time. I learned a lot and got a job and have been learning every day since.

For those like me who were seeking to learn how to code, the results I have had in my career and my life as a developer stands as proof that a boot-camp can be an effective intervention that provides many people with real satisfaction and substantial value.

Coming Next — I will try to dissect how I was able to get a job (pass interviews) as a junior only having a few weeks of training.