What Learning to Code Taught Me

It’s not as easy as ABC or 123, but maybe 1010…

A few months ago, I had a phone call with a recruiter. It had taken me weeks to set this call up. It all began with a networking call, then an email reference to internal HR, then finally to the recruiter for the job that I was interested in. The job was as an Operations Analyst at a popular fashion retailer and I could not have been more excited. Despite my sticky palms, I hopped on the recruiting call, ready to discuss why I was most qualified for the position. After running through my resume with the recruiter, she mentioned that she was impressed with both my enthusiasm and experiences just coming out of college, however, the position required a working knowledge of SQL. At the time, I only had experience with R code, a coding language that I learned in my Quantitative Business Analytics courses. She said that this would not normally be a considerable problem, however there is a mandatory SQL test during the recruitment process that I would not be able to finish if I did not understand SQL. After thanking her for the call, I remember sitting in my room completely frustrated. I had just lost an incredible opportunity due to the fact that I did not have one simple skill. It was then and there that I knew I had to roll up my sleeves and take a crack at it. Challenge accepted.

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In simple terms, a coder is someone who writes specific instructions or a “program” for a computer to understand and process the submitted request in the form of a completed task. Different coding languages are used for different purposes and require a specific language for writing “instructions”. SQL is a particularly helpful language for managing data in a relational database management system, making it useful for data analytics roles. 

If you are a beginner, like myself, I recommend using Codecademy to get your feet wet! Codecademy is free to sign up and offers various different courses to learn coding languages, such as SQL, Python, R, and Java. After signing up for my SQL course on Codecademy, I decided to dive right into the first session. Each session is composed of a few parts, the main ones being lessons, informational articles, projects, and quizzes. I especially appreciated the variety in material the courses offer, which helps coders learn the language more than memorize it. I also really enjoyed the challenging projects within each session that tests your coding skills in a useful and practical manner. 

After earning my “Learn SQL” course with Codecademy this past November, I had a few takeaways that I thought were worth sharing. My first takeaway is that, although the phrase “learning to code” and other tech terminology may seem intimidating, coding can be learned by anyone no matter what skill level. If your ambition is there, there is no stopping what you can learn, especially given the incredible online resources at your disposal. If you put your mind to something you can just about teach yourself anything. Simply put, learning to code is just like learning a new language. It seems intimidating from the start, but the magic is in when you find out it really isn’t too complicated. You are just not versed in the conversation yet!

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Another noteworthy takeaway is that coding allows you to think in ways you never approached problems before. When you are in the process of learning to code, you are pushed to ask yourself difficult questions that may be frustrating in the beginning. Coding forces you to dive deeply into the “why” questions, which you must answer in order to write efficient and useful code. Learning to code orients your mind into breaking down complex issues into bit size pieces that you must understand in order to accomplish your goal. A life lesson almost more than a coding one. 

Lastly, learning to code helps you become more detail oriented in your thinking. When writing code, you must go through a step by step process of explaining to the computer what to do. But, once you get the basics down, it is just learning what more functions and short cuts are at your disposal. It is incredible learning about the possibilities of coding, organizing data, and the capabilities of modern technology. You just have to try it for yourself!

The future is only going to become more and more technologically integrated, making it worth understanding the fundamentals to fully appreciate the world’s sheer complexity. It is only when we uncover the basics that we begin to understand how far we have developed as a people, society, and world. Thank you internet. 

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