Previously, me and Hanna Pettersson from Tjejer kodar hosted a talk at the annual Geek Girl conference about alternative ways of learning to code. The street smart way, as we like to call it. Codeacademy and online tutorials are great in all its glory, but to be honest it is quite hard to keep up the motivation unless you have a purpose to learn to code. The stories on how me and Hanna happened to learn to code differ, but the common denominator is that we both had a reason to learn it.
My Reason to Learn to Code - Getting Things Done
At first, learning to program wasn't an active choice. What actually happened was that I was working as a Communications Manager for a fintech startup, and every time I wanted to ad new things on the website I created quite time consuming and administrative tasks for the developers. Since I have always been very open to learning new things, and I constantly look for ways to get things done quicker, I ended up being taught how to do easier changes myself. What I like to call - copy paste programming, or the programming equivalence of bookkeeping.
What Do I Mean with Copy Paste Programming?
Like anything else in real work life, you don't reinvent the wheel every time you create a new page. So you reuse templates or skeletons, that you can shuffle things around in. And this is what I was taught to do. I learned where to add copy for the titles, how to add body text and how to add an image. Basically I owned the press page where I had the freedom to change things around as I wished. This way, I could move forward a lot quicker in my job which created a great feeling of autonomy.
Five Reasons to Start with Copy Paste Programming
1. Repetition is the Mother of Learning
Just like when you learn a new language, you start off simple with learning some words. After a while, you are able to see how words fit together and you can create sentences from it. The same goes with programming. By putting pieces of code together over and over again through copy pasting you'll soon start to see patterns of how things fit together. Then you can start experiment and see what happens if you change something. After a while, you'll start to get aha-moments. The first time you're able to troubleshoot an error message is extremely satisfying. When you can say, “it all makes sense now”.
If you want to become an authorised accountant, you don't start with learning the high-level theory. You start with doing the actual bookkeeping. Repetition creates a deepened understanding of how business finances actually work, before you can move on to the next level. The same goes with programming.
Another reason to start learning to code this way is that there is a reason to learn it - you create autonomy in your work. It is also far more motivating to have a reason to learn something, rather than just from pure curiosity (but both is of course the killing combo!)
3. Create Value from Day One
If you start this way, you create value for your company more or less from day one. You offload work from the developers who can spend their time doing more complex programming, and you can get your projects out quicker.
4. The Developers Will (Hopefully) Love You
If you can take off some of the less qualified jobs from the developers, so that they can spend more time doing more qualified job, they will love you for it. As long as you don't create more work for them by constantly interrupting them with questions, I'm pretty sure your willingness to help out will be highly appreciated.
5. Getting Paid
Hey, you would actually also get paid whilst learning to code on the job! It's a win win for everyone, right?
How did you learn to code? Feel free to reach out to share your stories!