Stop Lying To Newbies

Since deciding that I wanted to learn to code, well-meaning people within the community have been lying to me. Hell, let’s be honest, it was these same untruths that led me to the decision in the first place. It’s the same lie that has newbies flocking to bootcamps, hackathons, and diving into free and paid online resources head first with little regard to how these choices might affect them long-term.

This lie I speak of is that “learning to code is easy”. IT IS NOT! In fact, since making the decision this past March to learn to code, it’s been the hardest part of my transition from education to the technology field. Because of this lie, I’ve had unrealistic expectations of what “learning to code” really entailed which has made for a learning experience that has been filled with more than the normal self-doubt that comes with learning.

More times than I can count in my short time at my keyboard trying to turn an interest into a career, I’ve turned what I would have considered the normal growing pains of learning into an indictment of my own abilities, intelligence, and “stick to it ness”. Beating up on myself for not grasping, what I’ve discovered are really advanced programming concepts because of the lie.

Learning to code is far more complicated than just learning syntax, for loops, and “just Google it”. After months of confusion, it was only during a pair programming session last night that I now can say that I understand what a callback is. Learning to code requires the individual to truly grasp and become comfortable with the fact that everyday you will come across a new concept, you will forget what you thought you already knew, and that programming logic is a well-developed skill.

Honestly, had I known this and so many more challenges that are inherent with choosing this path, I may not have. But I’m here and I’ve decided to stick it out. I’ve decided that being a programmer who solves the problems that are important to me means something. I’m not sticking it out because I still believe the hype because the honeymoon phase did not last long. I’m staying because even through the hardship, I’ve discovered a love for the “ah ha moments” every coder has. Solving problems is an addiction and I’m hooked.

Final words: if this field is serious about bringing people into this community with different voices, perspectives, and abilities who will decide to stick it out long-term, then the lie needs to stop NOW! Stop sellIng newbies on the idea that learning to code is easy and that making a great starting salary is as simple as sitting at your computer for hours on end for the low, low investment of a few months. Instead develop ways that effectively support newbies along their coding journey. If each person working as a professional programmer committed to mentoring just one newbie during their first year we would have a community of junior developers who understand the REAL risks and rewards of this industry and these individuals would be better equipped to solve tomorrow’s problems today.