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Learning a new skill is difficult. It’s easy to give up and it’s easy to beat yourself up. So this week and I want to take a quick break from coding to offer you some words of encouragement. Hopefully this will help you solidify your drive to learn how to program.
I recently came across this tweet that got a lot of people in our industry upset.
I genuinely do not understand why so few people decide to become software engineers. The barriers to entry are pretty low, the pay and perks are good, the job high status and fun, and one can learn enough to get a job, by themselves, in ~3-6 months.— Florent Crivello (@Altimor) July 1, 2018
The responses to this are what you’d expect.
— Your privilege…it’s showing.
— That’s easy for a white male to say.
— Don’t mistake low barriers for you as low barriers for everyone else.
But guess what? He’s right and he’s more right than people want to believe regardless of how many excuses and forms of privilege they’ll throw at you to convince you otherwise.
Why wouldn’t someone want to make more than they’re currently making, with better pay, better benefits, and more job security? It’s easy to understand why if you frame this opportunity in a different way.
Learning how to code is like exercise. It’s affordable, it’s accessible, and the benefits are amazing. But it also takes self-discipline and a lot of patience. So before people ever see results, they quit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying learning how to code is easy. It isn’t and neither is exercising.
But the reason why people give up on exercise and coding is easy. They don’t get to experience the same frustration I had when I was first staring out. They see people who are years ahead of them and start to think they’re the only one struggling.
I would know because I dropped out of CS in college. I was one of those people!
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People who aren’t programmers think what we do is insanely difficult. They think it’s an intellectual job and only a certain number of people can do it. But people who actually know how to program think the exact opposite! We think anyone who’s disciplined enough can do it.
Yes, I agree that the bottleneck is in drive and discipline, not in intelligence.— Florent Crivello (@Altimor) July 1, 2018
Ask yourself who thinks going to the gym just doesn’t work for their body type?
- The person who tried and quit after a few weeks.
- The person who stuck to it and has the results to show off after a ton of hard work? (I would know—a few years ago I couldn’t do a single pull-up. Not anymore.)
If you’re being honest you know the answer even if you’ve never worked out a day in your life.
This applies to programming too. There are people who think they aren’t smart enough for programming and there are people who stick with it long enough to make it work.
If programming isn’t for you, that’s okay.
But don’t let the struggle of learning something new be what holds you back. Embrace the suck.
Learning a front-end framework is hard. "Getting started" tutorials cover the basics but you leave thinking, "Okay, now how do I build something with this?"
The truth is, getting started tutorials aren't all that great for beginners. They're demos to highlight as many features as quickly as possible.
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The end result is a basic application that doesn't mimick what it's like building real applications as a front-end developer.
You'll work with a mocked API and database. Application architecture isn't covered. Automated testing is skipped altogether.
Trust me, I've been there. But those days are over.
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