Intern Life - The importance of learning code

Posted by Trustev editor on June 9, 2013

Trustev currently has two fantastic guys working with us as part of their college placement programmes. Michael Linehan and David Devane. While they refer to themselves as ‘interns’ they’ve been given full time, paying roles as a Junior Project Manager and Junior Developer, with all the responsibilities and training those roles demand.

To prove that we’re not just keeping them chained in the basement, every week they’ve been encouraged to write a blog post about any topic they want.

Many people ask the question “should I learn how to code?” – Simple answer is yes, you damn well should. Now is the time to learn because if you wait any longer you will probably be left behind and will have to play catch up. I believe that everyone should at least learn basic programming skills. Programming is a language like any other, and as the world becomes more and more technical, I’d go as far as to say that in the years to come programming will replace German, French and other languages as a second language in schools.

Young people of today are more advanced when it comes to technology because they grew up with it all around them. Kids as young as six years old already have their own laptop or tablet which is very frightening. When I was that age I didn’t even know what the internet was never mind having my own computer.

Coderdojo is a great idea as it allows school kids learn how to code at young age while their minds are fresh. Imagine what the future holds if they have the skill of programming at this age. The founders of many next generation businesses may be secondary school students.

There is a common misconception about learning to code. People think you need to be a genius to code but this is for the most part untrue. I believe all you need to have a good mix between determination and willingness to learn. Computer programming is a very powerful skill to learn. Even coding a simple program that displays the message “Hello World” makes you feel like you have magic powers.

Recently, Trinity College Dublin announced a three year partnership with Google to develop a new project aimed at transforming computer science in Irish schools. Google is undertaking the partnership to mark 10 years in Ireland and will provide €1.5million in funding to the ground-breaking transformative project. Under the project, 1,000 teachers will have the opportunity to undertake a certified course in 21st Century Computer Science Teaching Skills, developed by the Trinity Access 21 network in Trinity College Dublin. As Ireland strives to emerge as the "Silicon Valley" of Europe, this initiative is aimed at producing the next generation of computer scientists that will make this vision a reality.

Some people reading this may think I am a bit naïve to recommend that everyone should learn how to code because most expert programmers have gone through years of college learning how to program which I know is very expensive. But I believe that if you really have an interest in learning to code, just go for it. There are loads of tutorials online and even simple to follow step by step video tutorials on YouTube. I would really recommend the website Stackoverflow which is basically a library of detailed answers to nearly every question about programming. I have lost count of the amount of hours this site has saved me to date.

Since I have started at Trustev I have learned a great deal about the life of a programmer. I must admit for the first couple of weeks I was completely lost but the secret is to never give up and break up the project tasks into easy achievable goals . The main downfall people have is that when they try to code something they tackle it as one major problem rather than a series of small problems. The old saying “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” springs to mind.

The beauty about programming is that no matter how much experience you have or programs you have created, there is still more to learn and this means programmers rarely get bored. There is also a vast amount of different programming languages out there so get learning.

I also believe that business people in technology companies should learn how to program, even if it is at a very basic level, you are doing a few things:

  • You’re giving yourself, depending on how much you learn, the ability to understand how your technical team works. Even if you’re a salesman or marketer you will appreciate the techie’s role in the business and maybe be more accurate with setting deadlines on tasks because it may look like it doesn’t take that much time to write a few lines of code.
  • You realize the scope of the project. By understanding what it takes to code something, you will realize how long it will take to build a new feature, what sort of work is involved, and what are the technological limitations.
  • If it’s something simple like centering an image on the company’s blog page then try to do it yourself and you will earn respect from the developers because you aren’t consuming their time on simple tasks. The developers usually have bigger fish to fry. If you can’t get it working then the developer won’t mind having a look at it because you have made the effort.
  • It would eliminate all sorts of problems. You end up with better team communication, more respect for one another’s roles, and more realistic deadlines.

Hopefully people will take this advice on board and at least give coding a try because as I have mentioned it is an excellent skill to have.

David Devane is working as a Junior Developer at Trustev as part of his 3rd year work placement. He fights bugs by day and dresses like Spiderman by night.

Topics: Technology