Coding Series Tag Archives - General Assembly Blog

What Is coding?

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Coding is a language, simply put. But that doesn’t stop the mysteries and the global misconceptions that swirl around it. Too often, coding is presented as difficult to understand and needlessly complicated. Why does coding have such a mystique?

Shahzad Khan, one of our lead instructors, breaks it down:

“People think that coding is about sitting in a dark room writing thousands of lines of incomprehensible code. It’s not.” Khan has built a career on breaking down the complicated concepts of coding into easily understood concepts in our Introduction to Coding course, which allows students to dive right into learning programming language. “With the new high-level languages like Javascript and Python, coding is more intuitive and closer to the English language than it has ever been.”

Just like with other languages, once you learn a coding language and how to use the tools of computer science to communicate, a whole new world opens up.

Coders have been known to perpetuate the mythology, though. When they talk about coding, practitioners can sound like proselytizers. They tell passionate stories of how coding has changed their lives — and the world. Famous lines of code have become legendary. Look no further than the Facebook “like” button, an example of how the most consequential code changes people’s behaviors. That’s a lot of power, and it can be intoxicating.

Steve Jobs famously claimed that everyone should learn how to write code because learning how to code teaches you how to think. That may be true, but this definition of coding is still our favorite: Coding is solving real-world problems with existing technology.

And the barriers to entry are relatively low. “Coding is awesome because it allows you to build some amazing things as long as you have a working computer and the internet. No need to go invest in expensive equipment,” says Khan. 

“Software is eating the world, so coding is already extremely important and will be even more so as we progress into the future. The right people who know how to code will save the world.”

The fact is that software is only getting more ubiquitous, finding its way into government and public policy. One look at the United States’ patchwork response to COVID-19, and it’s not hard to imagine how the right software at the right time could have lifesaving implications.

For others, coding is a calling and a way to express creativity — not something you usually associate with computer science. “Creating something is so satisfying, and coding is the ultimate tool to do that,” says Arwa Lokhandwala, one of our lead instructors:  “I love getting my hands dirty trying to learn how to use a particular technology to solve a problem or just creating something for fun.”

Coding isn’t a solitary, head-down endeavor, contrary to those popular misconceptions. We can dispel the image of the glassy-eyed, hoodie-wearing loner right here. “There is a common myth that coders work alone,” Lokhandwala continues. “That’s not true! Coding is a very collaborative role. You have to interact with your team members, designers, product owners, and stakeholders, to name a few.”

“We are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution where technology will dominate every domain. Currently, people are using coding for everything from detecting diseases to exploring outer space. This is just the beginning. Coding is completely going to revolutionize every industry and give birth to new ones.”

Ready to learn? Enrolling in a coding bootcamp is a great way to learn coding without investing years or thousands of dollars. At GA, a coding bootcamp can be 12 or 15 weeks long and is designed to be a fast-paced learning experience. Students learn and implement quicker than in more traditional courses, and the most successful learn to trust the process. Our Software Engineering Immersive course gives students all the coding skills they need to start job hunting and is Khan’s favorite course to teach. “I love that I get to make an immediate impact in the lives of people who come to learn and want to change their lives for the better.”

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Arwa?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/arwalokhandwala-b831b/

https://www.instagram.com/code.with.arwa/

Want to learn more about Shahzad?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shahzadkhanaustin/

https://flawgical.medium.com

How long does it take to learn coding?

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How long does it actually take to learn coding? To create a diverse portfolio that wows clients, you’ll want to showcase your talents on varying platforms. But first, you’ll need to assemble your coding toolkit. The most efficient approach for beginners is to pick one programming language and try to master it. So, what can you expect next?

Since everyone’s learning style is different, the time commitment required to learn coding can vary. Some people will pick up a new coding language in days, while for others, it could take months. Taking a course specific to Python or JavaScript will teach you the core concepts of that language and how to write programs in those languages. Expect a bit of a learning curve as you train your mind to think like a programmer. But it’s all part of the process. In our coding courses, you’ll gain broad benefits that set you up for workplace success. You’ll learn best practices, get feedback from peers and experts, build a network, and receive career coaching.

Shahzad Khan, lead instructor and owner of software development and consulting firm Frame of Mind considers coding to be a life-long learning process. “Coding is a way of thinking rather than a thing you learn and implement. Once you understand that, it’s just a matter of practice. Some students will arrive at that “a-ha” moment faster than others.“

For those who can invest more time upfront, Khan recommends the intense learning environment of a bootcamp like our Software Engineering Immersive (SEI), which gives  all the coding skills for full-stack web development. 

“SEI will teach you everything from how to ideate and think about the user to how to implement design patterns and deploy the application to the cloud,” he says. “All that, in a nutshell, is full-stack development. You will learn at least two languages and their respective frameworks. There is also time dedicated to computer science fundamentals, so graduates have a robust exposure to concepts as they interview for their first role as software developers.” 

When Python instructor, Diego Rodriguez, was working as a data analyst, he used coding to get his job done faster. “I was doing many repetitive data analysis tasks, and I knew that if I could code, I could not only get through them quicker, but I could teach others to do the same. I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, and that shaped my perspective on how to work. I realized that coding would allow me to do more in less time.”

He encourages beginners to start with the fundamentals and apply learning code to a personal project for the most successful — and efficient — approach.

“In as little as two weeks, you can learn enough to take on small projects like creating data visualizations using structured data. If you’re learning with a specific goal in mind, you can focus on accomplishing each step of the workflow using code.”

Rodriguez breaks down just how long it takes to learn the programming language Python here. 

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Shahzad?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shahzadkhanaustin/
https://flawgical.medium.com

Want to learn more about Diego?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rodriguezadiego/

How To Learn Coding

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Do you know how to use a computer? Do you have a curious mind? If you answered yes to both, you have everything you need to learn a programming language and become a coder. Coding is very accessible — it’s really that simple.

There are many ways to learn to code, from going it alone on a DIY coding website to scoring a coveted spot in a computer science doctoral program. Learning along with others and from an instructor who is passionate, knowledgeable, and has real-world experience creates our dynamic General Assembly environment. From a bootcamp Immersive to a classic Introduction to Coding, our coding courses are taught by professionals who are industry leaders. Essential is their own love of learning, and they thrive on sharing this with students, often in a collaborative discussion that covers a wide range of coding topics.

Lead Instructor at General Assembly Singapore, Arwa Lokhandwala, is a full-stack web developer and advocate for women in technology through groups like the Women Techmakers Community and Mumbai Women Coders. She describes herself as a coder at heart with a passion for sharing. We trust her guidance on all things coding.

“Anyone with a passion for learning new things can learn how to code, “ says Lokhandwala. “You don’t need a 4-year degree. Familiarity with computer science is good to have, but it’s not necessary; you can learn that as you go along. A lot of companies hire people directly from a coding bootcamp.”

“Bootcamps are inherently intense because there is a limited time period to train, which has its own advantages. The initial days are challenging, but as you progress with the projects you build, the people you interact with, and the things you learn, you will become confident with interviewing and getting the job. If you are just starting out with coding, I would highly recommend a GA Immersive because it gives you a community. Talking to other people who are in the same situation as you can help you get motivated.”

There is no one-size-fits-all, ideal coding student. Students at GA have come from all walks of life, from service industries to liberal arts backgrounds to working on an oil rig. Lokhandwala describes what makes a student successful. “Never giving up. Coding is hard, and nobody gets it on their first attempt. So don’t let your imposter syndrome get the better of you. Keep practicing, and you will get it. Your intrinsic motivation to code has to be stronger than the external motivation in order to create a fulfilling career.” 

Shahzad Khan, one of our lead instructors and owner of software development and consulting firm Frame of Mind, appreciates the experience that students from non-traditional backgrounds bring to his Introduction to Coding course at our Austin, Texas campus. Khan got a degree in philosophy and began studying programming languages as a way to gain acumen after graduate school. “I saw coding as something I needed to learn in a world where we are surrounded by software.” 

His passion for teaching makes his courses popular among returning students.

“I love teaching programming because it forces me to learn every single day and to think about different ways to explain complex concepts. Plus, I get to make some genuine connections with students and inspire them to awesome things.”

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Arwa?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/arwalokhandwala-b831b/
https://www.instagram.com/code.with.arwa/

Want to learn more about Shahzad?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shahzadkhanaustin/
https://flawgical.medium.com

What can you do with coding?

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What do the most in-demand 2021 jobs and promising careers of the future have in common? Coding skills. At the same time, new applications of coding are making their way into existing roles, expanding job requirements in traditional fields like banking and marketing. Even for non-tech roles, coding skills are seen as a valuable bonus that can give job candidates an edge.

Our digital world buzzes with software code we use every day, from products and services in the form of websites to mobile applications to games and on and on. 

Computer programmer, developer, engineer, analyst  — these are just some of the titles rapidly populating the job boards of Fortune 500 companies, and coding skills are essential requirements in all of them. Arwa Lokhandwala, who teaches our popular Full-Stack Web Development course, breaks down the various titles and what they really mean.

“Most of these terms are used synonymously, but there is some slight difference between them. A computer programmer, for instance, includes anyone who uses a programming language to produce some digital output — this technically includes everyone who codes. A developer uses a wide array of technical abilities, from writing code and creating technical documentation to testing and debugging. An engineer, on the other hand, is a person who has a strong educational background in software engineering, computer science, and mathematics and can apply these concepts to solve or create digital solutions. Finally, the analyst’s main job is to analyze different metrics, understand data captured by these digital solutions, and derive useful insights from them that are beneficial for the business.”

Additional jobs for coding professionals include web designer, software engineer, and chief technology officer (CTO); myriad roles in the fields of web development, technical project management, and quality assurance; plus, almost every founder of a successful startup has a background in coding.

So, what does a typical career path look like? “You can either start out as a software engineer, software developer, or quality analyst. As you progress, you can become lead developer then either go towards becoming an engineering manager, solution architect or product manager,” Lokhandwala advises.

You don’t always have to make a big move to flex your coding muscles. Often newfound coding skills can help you to advance in your existing job. If you’re curious about how this may pertain to you, Lokhandwala suggests offering to solve a particular problem at your company that you think can be automated with coding and see how that affects your role. The next step would be to take a course in a programming language like Python or fast-track your career with a coding bootcamp like our Software Engineering Immersive. Whether you stay at your job or accept a better offer elsewhere, you’ll gain a distinct advantage in the job market and increase your earning potential.

The practical applications for coding language are vast and growing every day. From medical coding to building websites, freelance to full-time, the jobs that use hard coding skills are varied enough to fit every personality and lifestyle.

Lokhandwala sees many exciting new uses of coding on the horizon, all on the cutting edge of computer science. “Some of the most interesting are in the realms of augmented reality and virtual reality. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the early onset of diseases has huge implications.”

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Arwa?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/arwalokhandwala-b831b/
https://www.instagram.com/code.with.arwa/

Which coding language should you learn?

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Python, Pandas, JavaScript, Django, Go… the many computer programming languages can be overwhelming to newbies. So, which coding course should you enroll in first? Is there a basic coding language, or should you try to learn the one you hear everyone talking about? Even for those with a working knowledge of computer science, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest buzzwords and advances in the exciting, ever-evolving field of coding.

That’s why we’ve turned to an expert. Diego Rodriguez, data scientist and Python instructor, is here to help answer our most pressing questions.  

What do beginners need to know about learning a coding language?

DR: Learning programming languages can be intimidating, so it helps to know a little bit about them to make the process of learning approachable. It is no different than learning a natural language. You start by learning syntax and basic vocabulary. You apply those concepts effectively, and then you learn new ones. 

There are many programming languages, such as Python, R, Java, C, Go, JavaScript. Each language has an ideal use case. For example, Python and R have become the norm for data analysis. You can certainly do that in Java, but there is a steeper learning curve for Java than there is for Python. 

Which language did you learn first and why?

DR: I took a Java class in high school. I learned the vocabulary and syntax, but I never used it professionally or in academia, so I forgot most of it. In my data science program at General Assembly, I learned Python, and I use it almost every day, so I’d say Python is my first programming language. Python is known as a general-purpose programming language. It’s an instrumental tool for my work in data engineering, data analysis, and data science. 

What is the easiest programming language to learn?

DR: Two easy programming languages to learn are Python and R, primarily because of their readability and all the learning resources that are out there. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all easy (and important) to learn for front-end web development. If you end up picking a language and decide it was the wrong language to learn, the good news is it’s much easier to learn another once you have one under your belt.

How have programming languages evolved? What makes one better than another?

DR: Programming languages were created to either suit a specific purpose or as a more general and legible language. For example, Python was inspired by Java and C, and ABC. Every new language builds on its predecessors in some ways. There may be improvements in usability, or speed, or readability. Python, for example, is more readable than other OOPs, but it’s slower to process. On the other hand, Go is similar to Python syntactically and also built on C, but executes much faster.

What is the most challenging aspect of learning to code?

DR: I think new coders can have a hard time figuring out an optimal approach to a coding problem or with debugging their code. You can do a lot with a little bit of coding knowledge, but it’s important to watch out for coding inefficiencies — writing 30 lines of code for something that could’ve been done in two lines. And in regards to debugging, it’s one of the most frustrating things about coding. But over time, you learn to not repeat mistakes and to troubleshoot your code more efficiently. The important thing to keep in mind is that both challenges are part of the learning process. Everyone experiences them!

Is it possible to teach yourself coding?

DR: Sure! I know many coders who are self-taught. But I know more who have had some formal instruction. For those new to coding, it helps a lot to have a curriculum to follow, and it’s even better if you have an instructor to guide you. As you gain coding experience, you will take on new challenges, some of which will require you to learn new techniques, libraries, or even entire programming languages. So having a self-taught mindset is an important part of being a coder. There are no prerequisites to coding, just being curious, patient, and open-minded.

Will coding save the world?

DR: Such an interesting question! I think coding has made life more enjoyable and fruitful. Those who code for a living have made tremendous contributions in fields like STEM, entertainment, transportation, and everything in-between. It’s safe to say that coding has made parts of the world smarter, healthier, and safer. If we as a society ever need saving, code may be the way to go about doing that. Things that are created to allow the survival of mankind will often be technological in nature, and therefore based on code. 

 So, the TL;DR? 

DR: If you take anything away from this conversation, it’s that you should learn to code! I recommend Python! 

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Diego?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/rodriguezadiego/

Ways to make money coding

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If computer scientists agree on anything these days, it’s that software is everywhere in our ultra-connected world. Since someone has to write all that software code, there are more ways than ever to make money coding.

And computer science prevails in our ever-shifting world. COVID-19 has revealed our global interdependence on computer science, and there’s no going back. From Roombas to mRNA, the applications of coding have come to define daily life in new ways. One enterprising coder recently made the news using the programming language Python to snag an elusive vaccine appointment in their city.

It’s easy to understand why coding skills are some of the most sought-after in today’s tech job market. So how do you actually make money with coding and start saving the world one line of code at a time? We have the answers.

Once you’ve got a few coding courses or a coding bootcamp under your belt, you’ll have a working coding toolkit that showcases your talent. Now it’s time to think about where you can put your coding skills to work. Job postings for computer programmers and calls for coding skills can be found at almost every company across the globe. Good to know: Some entry-level jobs offer on-the-job training, and you can essentially get paid to learn to code.

The healthcare tech sector has taken off, and this is a trend that beginner coders should watch. Certainly, the pandemic has made it easier to work from home, and coding naturally lends itself to remote work, opening up more job markets in far-flung locations. Even pre-pandemic, medical billing and medical coding were among the 20 fastest-growing tech occupations in the U.S. Now, with the boom in telemedicine and a growing need for data management, health tech remains a promising field for computer science. Vaccine passports and patient privacy concerns present perfect case scenarios for the problem-solving skills inherent in coding and are poised to create opportunities in both public and private sectors. From health data technicians to mobile app developers, the ways to make money coding in health tech are only set to grow. We see the potential for even more innovation because programmers have only begun to push the boundaries at the intersection of medicine and computer science.

Even though a lot of companies have suffered from the pandemic, our data show that the jobs for coding have not been affected nearly as much as other fields. Businesses previously without an online presence are now migrating towards it, giving programmers and coders plenty of new work.

One of our lead instructors, Arwa Lokhandwala, takes stock of the Singapore job market and notes that coding roles can pay very well, adding that, “There are both salaried and hourly options available, and you can also freelance your skills over several freelancing sites.” About half of her students in our Introduction to Coding course are looking for a career change and want to know how hard it is to break into coding. “I think the most difficult thing is the change in mindset when you move from other fields into coding. Keep practicing and keep learning. As long as you are skilled in what you do, the job market will be good to you.”

Most beginner coders know that building websites and web development are avenues now open to them, with even more demand for building mobile applications. Coding opportunities in gaming and game development show no signs of slowing down either. Traditional sectors like finance and banking are ramping up their software development and have a growing need for coders, as more of our day-to-day happens on the go and on our phones. Education has long been a sector ripe for disruption, with the pandemic sending everyone from school administrators to test providers scrambling to adopt technology in new ways.

Data visualization, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are some of the most exciting spaces for coding professionals right now. These fields are breaking new ground, and often, that’s where many thrill-seeking coders want to be.

The high demand for jobs with well-paying salaries is just one of the attractions for coders. Coding draws on problem-solving skills and attracts the intellectually curious. When computer programming is done right, it never gets boring because you are always learning new things. 

“I was attracted to coding because there is a lot of demand for programming,” says Shahzad Khan, who leads our Software Engineering Immersive in Austin, Texas. “But I also wanted to find a job that satiated my problem-solving skills and forced me to keep learning every day.”

Real-world applications of coding are everywhere, but that doesn’t always make them easy to spot. There are ways to make money coding that may not be on your radar yet. Khan names a few less-obvious career opportunities like working with electrical grid systems, charting airplane trajectories, and exploring space. “These days, anything that requires the internet is an application of coding.”

Explore Coding Workshops

Want to learn more about Arwa?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/arwalokhandwala-b831b/
https://www.instagram.com/code.with.arwa/

Want to learn more about Shahzad?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shahzadkhanaustin/
https://flawgical.medium.com