Tech Devil: Don’t Be Lazy, Learn to Code!

When you made your new year’s resolutions they were probably more along the lines of getting in shape or saving up money for something you’ve wanted for months. What about learning to code? For free? In late December, a company named Codecademy launched an initiative to make learning how to code a new year’s resolution for anyone who signed up. Only a few days after announcing the initiative, almost 100,000 people had signed up and were ready to get started. It’s closer to 350,000 now and it’s also worth noting that this got the President’s attention and now has a separate initiative to teach kids in low-income areas how to code for free this summer.

I had heard about Codecademy in the fall and it is highly addictive, though with school and work, it eventually fell by the wayside. But the moment I saw this, I knew I had to join. When January hit, I got an email with the first lesson. They start you off with a very basic intro and step-by-step instructions with hints if you get confused. Every weekend they send you a new lesson so it pushes you to get the lessons done.

While I’ve only had a few weeks of this, I can already tell it’s worth my time. With all the economic issues we’re facing as a country, many people in the tech world have offered a jobs plan that is as individual as you can get: Learn to code, get a job. This could be huge for a country looking at 9 percent unemployment. Especially when companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are all looking for more and more developers. Codecademy could be a stepping stone for many people to get on track to finding a well-paying job. I could almost guarantee that it’s easier for someone who knows how to code to find a job compared to someone who doesn’t. Even if you’re not worried about finding a job, it never hurts to learn a new skill, especially when programming is such a big part of our lives.

One of Y-Combinator’s poster children, Codecademy set out to find jobs for people who already knew how to program, but it eventually morphed into an incredible teaching tool that has continued to receive funding and investments. There’s a saying we all know that gets at “if you’re good at something, never do it for free,” but these days it seems more and more people are doing things for free.

Programming has, for the most part, been an exclusive boys’ club. That’s starting to change. More and more women are starting to take an interest in technology becoming programmers. Now with Codecademy, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds can make the jump and learn to build their own app -- all they need is a computer and access to the internet.

I still have a ways to go before I can build my own app and say I actually know how to program, but so far I can tell it’s well worth my time. I would suggest this to anyone who is bored and looking for a hobby or wants to add to their skill set. As someone who is looking for a job, this could end up being a deciding factor in whether I get a job when I graduate instead of having to move back in with my parents. So if you’ve got some free time and want to learn something new, click over to Codecademy and immerse yourself in a world you thought only nerds were allowed to wander. Who knows, you might even love it so much that you build your own app and start a million-dollar company.

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