Do You Really Need to Learn How to Code?
Written By: Kaavya Jha – Winner of SAMMPress Writing Competition
There are two ways to interpret the title.
Either you are overcome with despair because you assume you should be fluent in at least
three programming languages by now, or you’re sceptical as to whether this “must-have”
skill is all that necessary.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure which one is the case.
Within the last few years, programming has transformed from a niche ability to a compulsory
part of primary school curriculum. Being code literate is starting to become equally as
important as reading or maths for the next wave of school students.
But for those who just missed out on this shift of thought by just a few years, is coding a skill
worth investing in?
Well, it depends.
Jobs with programming skills are still growing, and often identical positions are paid higher
rates if the applicant has some coding experience. Software engineering’s high entry-level
salaries can hold its own against its investment banking or management consultant
counterparts, often with much lower levels of stress.
On the other hand, some argue that assuming that coding is a skill everyone must have is a
reductionist attitude. After all, despite massive advances in technology, a large proportion of
jobs will not require programming abilities. If you’re fixed on becoming a lawyer or something similar, there are probably more relevant skills that you can pick up.
However, just as in-demand skills are shifting, so are the nature of people’s careers. No
longer do graduates expect to stay with the first organisation they’re hired by until they retire;
people are aware that project-based jobs and freelancing is on the rise. With this new gig
economy, a broader range of skills is required to be successful as each new role might be
slightly different than the last. The rise in demand for programming skills can provide a
sense of security.
But learning to code for the sake of learning to code is not a good idea. It’s just like learning
to play the piano all throughout high-school just to prove how “well-rounded” you were.
Sure, you may pick up some valuable knowledge along the way, but everybody’s time is too limited to be spending it on something with the only goal being to show off to people (aka potential employers) who aren’t all too concerned in the first place.
Plus, you’ll probably be completely miserable. Great! Learning to code can be a very
isolating and disheartening process; it can be hard to tell when and where you made that
teeny, tiny mistake that ruined your entire day’s work. Trying to master even the basics will
be frustrating if you’re not genuinely self-motivated throughout the challenge.
So, do you really need to learn how to code?
If, like me, you’ve been beating yourself up over the fact that you haven’t learnt a single line
of Python or Java despite claiming to be your New Year’s resolution for many, many New
Years and enrolling in multiple free online courses, it’s okay.
Coding is a skill that is
useful to have when going into the workforce. It might not
be necessary for you right away but if the time ever comes where you want to pick it up,
there are more than enough resources ready to help you start your programming journey.