Yesterday, I received a message from a friend, asking about how to become a programmer. It's not the first time I've been asked this. In fact, this summer I've been asked by several friends how to get into the field. It seems that as people grow older, they see the lifestyle of working remotely and enjoying their job as an attractive thing to do. In yesterday's case, this friend is a mom that now has her days free because all her kids are in school. Here's what she wrote:
Since this is a common question I see, I figured I'd publish my answers here, and get some advice from y'all too. Here's my response:
I've taken a Scala course from Coursera, it was hard and intense, but I learned a lot. They have lots of courses and give you certifications you can put on your LinkedIn profile: https://www.coursera.org.
Ultimately, the best way to learn to code is by doing. It's definitely good to study, learn and practice, but it'll probably won't sink in and become real knowledge until you're getting paid to do it. With the plethora of high-priced programmers out there, you can likely find a junior position, show a willingness to learn and come up to speed quickly. If you can couple that with a remote position, I think you'll really enjoy yourself.
Her response was interesting, as she thought she might need a CS degree to even get a programming job.
Coincidentally I looked over many of these coding sites yesterday but wasn't sure if I needed an accredited diploma. It sounds like it's more important that I just get some experience.
From my experience, a college degree matters, but not a CS degree. I told her people skills make programmers stand out and she's a witty person that certainly has those. What's your advice as a programmer? What would you tell people to do if they want to break into the field?
More importantly, if you're on the hiring side, what would it take for you to hire a 40-something person with no programming background? If they've been studying for six months and have really good people skills, would you hire them for a junior position?