When do you really need to know how to code?
If you want to build a generic personal website or an e-commerce store, you probably don’t need to learn coding. There are many existing, user-friendly tools out there for you to use.
If you want to build a more customized website, web application or mobile application, then you need to learn coding. Why? Because existing tools can’t satisfy your needs.
Can you learn coding for free online all by yourself?
Yes, but it will require a longer time, more commitment and a lot of perseverance.
You might not know where to start. You might receive conflicting advice from blogs. Coding syntaxes also look like foreign languages from another planet. For many beginners, coding can look scary.
If you are a novice, you will be Googling at least 5,000 times and have to not give up until you find the solution. Sometimes, it can take a whole day or many days to solve something. This is the main reason why learning coding completely on your own is challenging. It requires a lot of perseverance to fix your code.
In our experience, it takes 3x longer time to learn by yourself than having someone else guide you through it.
Simulated environment vs. Real-world environment?
Many online tools use simulated environments to help you learn. Simulated environment is where you click around on a website to go through different levels. In our findings, they are mostly for entertainment.
You have to ask yourself the following questions:
- After I go through these lessons, can I do it on my own from scratch?
- Say I just learned HTML and CSS, can I clone Apple.com’s landing page from scratch?
- Say I just learned the basics of programming, can I write other similar programs from scratch?
You should always learn in a real-world environment. Set up everything on your own computer. Use tools that developers are using. Do things the right way from the beginning.
You can only learn how to paint by painting, and it’s going to get messy.
A real-world, messy environment is where you will truly learn and retain knowledge.
Can I get a high-paying tech job immediately after I finish learning?
Nothing is guaranteed. Harvard doesn’t guarantee that you will become Bill Gates.
Everybody has a different profile, background, CV and general ability to be hired.
That sounds like free lunch if somebody can guarantee you a job immediately learning something.
Learning how to code can definitely drive you in the direction of having a tech job, but you need to do a lot more (continue to learn and work on projects) to be an attractive candidate to companies.
Should you join a Coding Bootcamp?
As I run an online coding bootcamp, the answer will be YES with bias.
Generally, I think paying 15,000 USD and quitting your job for 3 months is a high price to pay. That’s why, at Altcademy, it costs 10 times less and you don’t need to quit your job. You can just learn at your own pace after work.
Are coding bootcamps better than self-learning? It depends, but you will generally learn faster in a coding bootcamp because of the structured curriculum and instructor guidance.
At the end of the day, you have to consider the effectiveness, price, opportunity cost and reputation.
What should I learn first?
Make sure you focus on learning the fundamental concepts instead of a particular language or technology stack.
There are many debates online on what you should learn. The truth is that you will be required to learn new technologies for different companies. So, you should focus on transferrable knowledge: fundamental concepts.
Pick any modern tech stack and start learning the fundamentals.
- Python, R and Java are used in data science.
- Java is for Android.
- Objective-C and Swift are for Apple’s iOS.
Wait! But, isn’t X better than Y? Learn the fundamentals first!
If you are a beginner, it doesn’t really matter as long as the tech stack is widely used in the industry. You have to be able to transfer your fundamental knowledge across different technology stacks.
What kind of computer do I need?
Mac, Windows or Linux will do. You should use a system that you’re familiar with. For beginners, Mac and Windows are better and easier to start with.
Do you need to buy a new, high performant computer? Probably not. You shouldn’t buy a new computer unless you really find your computer slow when you’re coding.
Basically, you just need a MacBook Air as your perfect setup in coding.