The 5 Most Common Misconceptions About Learning To Code

October 25, 2016

I recently started working for a start-up called The Institute of Code (IOC). We run 10 day bootcamps teaching front end web-development. Each session, up to 15 motivated and diverse students head to beautiful villas in amazing tropical locations around the world to learn to web development skills - pretty awesome right? Now you see why I took the job.

But here’s the thing, I actually don’t know how to code… I work mostly in marketing and student management. This is where my background is; so it may come as no surprise that I never thought it was necessary to learn to code. If you had asked me 12 months ago if I thought I should learn to code, I would have looked you straight in the eye and told you stone-cold, absolutely and unequivocally “no”.

Coding in the rice paddies

I recently started working for a start-up called The Institute of Code (IOC). We run 10 day bootcamps teaching front end web-development. Each session, up to 15 motivated and diverse students head to beautiful villas in amazing tropical locations around the world to learn to web development skills - pretty awesome right? Now you see why I took the job.

But here’s the thing, I actually don’t know how to code… I work mostly in marketing and student management. This is where my background is; so it may come as no surprise that I never thought it was necessary to learn to code. If you had asked me 12 months ago if I thought I should learn to code, I would have looked you straight in the eye and told you stone-cold, absolutely and unequivocally “no”.

This opinion has shifted somewhat since I started working with IOC. It’s hard not to see its value when every day you see past and current students applying it to all industries and careers to get ahead. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’s time for me to pull my socks up and work past the excuses I’ve been giving myself to avoid learning.

Realising this now, it made me think back to why I never considered learning code before now. By doing this I’ve been able to narrow down the 5 main reasons I didn’t want to learn to code…


1. It must be too hard for me

It’s too hard - the first, and arguably most common response you’ll hear from someone who is ‘not interested’ in learning how to code.

Let me break it down for you - there are many, many coding languages, so just to clarify, when I say ‘coding’ I’m primarily referring to HTML and CSS. These two languages are the bread and butter of building a website. Think of HTML as raw unformatted text - remember the first websites you ever laid eyes on? CSS came later - it’s what styles the raw text. These make up the basis of most other coding languages.

Once you know this, you have somewhere to start. Before this was explained to me I actually thought code was that binary language or something to do with the Matrix - I didn’t get it and I didn’t want to.

The good news is that there are limitless resources to help you get the ball rolling. Online is a great place to start. Free resources such as Code Academy and code.org are great to play around with the very basics of code in your own time. As a long-term strategy there are definitely a lot of hurdles, but it’s ideal for absolute beginners who are curious.

For a more in-depth introduction to code, short one or two day intensives are a great way to experience both theory and practical skills with the guidance of a mentor. If you want to get even more serious, bootcamps are a great option.

2. I’m not good with computers

I will be the first to admit I am far from the most computer savvy person. I thought coding was reserved for the most computer-literate kings of the technological world. The thought of learning to code seemed like a million mile journey.

Something I didn’t realise is that you don’t need pre-existing computer skills to learn to code. None at all.  You can write code on any ordinary text editor.

I’ve seen people who don’t know what a sim card is build a website from scratch. Someone else who I had seen once hold down the ‘escape’ key instead of power to turn their laptop on. It isn’t a test of your technological prowess, it is simply typing instructions that a computer can understand and action.

As far as your computer skills are concerned when learning to code, they are negligible.

Code? Is that you?

3. I don’t have the time

A lack of time is something I am very guilty of using as an excuse. Here’s the thing - the time I’m willing to invest in something is completely relative to how valuable I believe the outcome will be. For me, the issue was not knowing how learning to code would be valuable for me - I don’t particularly want to be a web designer, so how could it benefit me?

Having now worked 9 months at IOC, my eyes have been opened to the ways learning to code will actually SAVE me time!

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is not knowing how to update our website without help. I can’t add, remove or alter the majority of content on the website because I don’t even know how to find it in the code.

I’m also completely limited when it comes to designing online newsletters and emails. I can only use templates that almost NEVER match what I need. This is the bane of my existence. Handy hint CSS will have your back on this.

This lack of knowledge is holding me back in my position and I am not working at the capacity I am capable of. I’m completely powerless in this growing area of the workplace and it’s only going to get worse.

This situation is not just limited to my circumstances - it is becoming apparent in almost every industry. As technology advances, everything is becoming more connected and digital, and those that understand the system will excel, while everyone else will be left behind.


4. It’s too expensive

Even though I didn’t really know my options, I assumed that learning to code would be quite expensive. I knew that it involved computers and typing so my conclusion was that I couldn’t afford it.

Having now done a ridiculous amount of research (kind of part of my job), I can confidently report that there is an enormous amount of avenues available for someone looking to learn to code.

Your options range from free online courses to one day intensives to short intensive bootcamps like the IOC’s, to full 4-5 year computer programming degrees. Each of these options come with their own price tag and time commitment.

Deciding which option is best for you depends on what you want to get out of your training, your timeframe and your budget. Whatever the case, research will be your best friend. Here’s my two key criteria to keep in mind:

1. Be clear on your goals and expectations before even looking at options

2. Search for value over price

If you are looking at making a career out of coding or wanting to create websites for customers, definitely look at investing in a program where you will get some one-on-one guidance.

5. It’s not relevant to me

This was probably my biggest mental hurdle. I don’t want to build websites as a career, so why should I bother?

I’m going to put my serious pants on for a minute. By not learning to code you are seriously diminishing your scope of expertise, and as technology progresses it will only get worse. This is not an exaggeration, it’s the truth.

Without any coding knowledge you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position where you are completely dependent on developers for their knowledge. As an employee, this puts your job at risk and as a business owner you are forfeiting control over a critical part of your business.

I’ve learned far too much about the applicability of coding and the projection of its importance to say “I don’t need to know”. It’s taken this job to show me that coding is not only relevant, but it’s also completely attainable by anyone.

If you want to get in touch with The Institute of Code about their bootcamps you can reach them at hello@insituteofcode.com

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