Programming offers essential skills such as problem-solving, attention to detail, focusing on a problem, and logical thinking. Additionally, it offers you a myriad of job opportunities, higher wages, more job flexibility, and enjoy a sense of self-reliance. In short, that’s why programming is the new must-have life skill!
What is programming?
We all have computers, tablets, or mobiles at home that want to do things for us. We built them to expect our next instructions. Take as an example your phone. Your phone does nothing until you give him the next instruction whether it’s playing a video, taking a photo, or saving a file. All our devices are waiting to do things for us. When we program we are taking advantage of our hardware and devices to do useful things for us.
Daily we use many applications that entertain us, assist us, and to a certain extent control our lives. Furthermore, these applications may not only guide us as a car navigation system. Automated systems will eventually take control of most of our lives. Did you hear about self-driving cars? I’m sure that sooner or later we’ll have them on the road and we’ll be surrounded by automated systems. Do you ever feel the need to understand better their internal mechanism? Nowadays programming is an essential tool to learn about the world around us. It is as important as learning maths, physics, history, or science.
What do you learn from programming?
Programming will teach you something about the world that will help you in all aspects of life. I’m talking about essential skills that can improve your life and that’s why programming is the new must-have life skill!
When we start developing our own code automatically we learn to:
- become more aware of scenarios why and where applications are more likely to fail,
- come with solutions to all problems in every sector of life,
- carry out tasks more efficiently increasing productivity due to enhanced focus.
Who can program?
Everyone can learn to program. More and more people are learning some technology every day ranging from a simple script in Excel, writing a blog, or working with Canva. So why should you limit yourself in this world of new opportunities?
Essentially, programming is not only for math or computer whizz. Many TV series like Silicon Valley on Netflix, depict programmers as people with little social life who spend their entire day programming or playing computer games. On the contrary, I would say that no matter how old you are and whatever your background you can learn how to program. In fact, it’s almost certain that the young generation will start coding as part of their school curriculum, and in a decade all the new graduates will be knowledgeable more than you in this area. Basically, now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started!
Why do you want to start programming?
There are lots of reasons why you may want to start programming.
Programming as a career choice
You might be tempted to change position or work. Everyone knows that software engineers have a good salary, a myriad of opportunities, more flexible job opportunities, and a chance to develop your personal projects in your free time for personal pleasure and also revenue. Objectively, software development is a very good job if you can stick using sitting on a desk and focusing on one or multiple problems for at least 8 hours a day.
Alternatively, you may be looking for a job that allows you more flexibility to work from wherever you want possibly improving your lifestyle. Thus, especially in this pandemic programming is the New Must-Have Life Skill allowing you a greater choice of remote job opportunities.
However, starting to program for a career choice should not be your first goal unless you’re really passionate about it.
Programming for personal growth
Your main goal is to start writing programs that solve problems. Whether you’re an accountant, lawyer, or researcher, you might come across some data that you might need to process before being able to use it. You’ll be able to use computers to serve your own ends.
Actually, it is much easier to write a program for yourself because you don’t have to worry about a million users using your software. In the beginning, if it works for you then you’re happy. It takes a little more training to write software for thousands of other people.
How do you program computers?
Computers are like inexperienced cooks!
Programming can be easy! Have you ever created a new recipe from scratch using your cooking experience and knowledge? Programming is like creating a new recipe which the computer has to cook following blindly your instructions.
Computers aren’t very smart on their own. It’s entirely up to us to make them behave as we like by providing them with a detailed set of instructions. Since humans are the ones that feed these devices with knowledge, we need to learn to speak their language. It’s much easier for us to learn to speak their language than it is for them to speak ours. Ultimately our goal is to translate what we need to achieve in their language and get them to work for us.
Think of the computer as a person (inexperienced cook) who never stepped his feet in a kitchen. Let’s give this cook a set of detailed and thorough instructions. He will follow these instructions using the tools and ingredients provided. If need be he might also have to get fresh ingredients from a given location.
In truth, a person will be bored with all the details a computer requires making it more likely to skip some important detail. In contrast, a computer won’t execute a program if any detail is missing.
Scenario: Inexperienced Cook vs Computer
How does a programmer think?
In order to develop programs for end-users, you should imagine yourselves as being inside the computer. As a computer, you will be able to access the hardware components and peripherals. This includes the central processing, memory, network connection, disk drive, permanent storage mediating to accomplish what the user needs.
The major difficulty for beginners is getting used to the idea that a computer takes every word literally. Computers can’t compensate for small mistakes or assumptions that we as humans take for granted. For example, computers do not accept typographical errors. In fact, you need to make sure that every line is unambiguous naming and defining everything properly.
Another characteristic a programmer should have is some kind of problem-solving skills. Actually, you might be terrific at a certain computer language but fail in some basic important skills. It’s important that a programmer is diligent in breaking down a problem, recognizing patterns, and thinking of the most simple yet effective solution. Many people around us are not programmers but would excel in it! Nevertheless, some skills will improve in time. However, you have to accept that some people are just born to be programmers while others would excel more in other jobs.
What is the best language to start programming?
There is no simple answer to this question. As a developer with years of experience in coding Java EE applications, I am always tempted to direct people towards Java. Java has been around for more than 2 decades and if you are going to find a job in a big company you will probably need to learn Java.
On the other hand, I don’t think that Java is an easy language to start with. In fact, the strictness of its code that makes it popular with most developers might hinder beginners. Unfortunately, the use of boilerplate code makes programs longer making them appear more complex even to print a simple message on the screen.
That’s why I think that Python is probably the best option for beginners. You can start your first program writing a single line of code. Additionally, since the language is interpreted you have fewer restrictions than you’ll encounter in Java.
Whatever your decision, you’ll be a part of a larger community that knows Java and/or Python!
Still not convinced why programming is the new must-have life skill in 2021? Just try it out. Programming is much more fun than playing most games on your mobile. Start slowly and reach your goals a step at a time!