When I started to look into adding some coding skills to my resume, I got totally overwhelmed. A Google search about learning to code gives you everything from free Codeacademy lessons to boot camps where you can drop tens of thousands of dollars to become a full-stack developer. If you’re a beginner, you can really get going down a discouraging rabbit hole of languages (HTML! CSS! Ruby!) that don’t mean anything to you (yet!) and be convinced pretty easily that if you’re not going to time travel back to apply to MIT for a Computer Science degree when you were 17 then you should just forget it and go back to Pinteresting mason jar salads.
Before I spent any of my precious four weekly hours of both-kids-at-preschool time or my often-interrupted kids’ nap time hour diving into a Big Brand New Time Consuming Thing, I had a lot of questions: Where should I start? Which language is the best starting point? Which programs were best for me, someone who wanted some accountability, some real-human support when things got hard, but a lot of flexibility? Was it worth spending money on a program or could I get everything I needed for free? How could learning about coding help me go back to the field I worked in before or help me transition into a new kind of job in a few years? Did normal, working, busy, not-Matrix-hacking-type people, not-teenage-boy-in-his-basement-type people, learn this stuff on their own?
I found one podcast to be super helpful in answering all these questions, demystifying coding for a beginner, and helping me decide where was the right place for me to start learning and have the best chance of sticking with it. In Learn to Code with Me, self-taught coder Laurence Bradford does interviews with people who have taught themselves to code. They tell the stories of how they became interested in coding, where they started, what free or paid resources they used, what they found hardest, and where coding led them. She interviews every kind of career-changer you can imagine, including a librarian, and anthropologist, and a violin instructor. There are honest accounts of job searches and interviews. There are people who represent the whole range of what you can do with coding skills, from becoming a full-stack developer in Silicon Vallen to working on freelance projects from anywhere. Bradford’s questions are very thoughtfully crafted to make them accessible to someone with a little or no coding experience, but also helpful to someone who might be farther along on the path to learning to code; she stays away from jargony rabbit holes, and her interviews always include very practical advice and encouragement without shying away from the unsexy, difficult work you have to put in to get good at coding.
Learn to Code With Me helped me finally stop asking questions and Googling, find a program I liked and that fit my needs and personality at Skillcrush, and start learning some new things without worrying that I was wasting my time.