Growing up in a small suburb of New Haven, CT, I had little exposure to the world of coding. We all did. California and its tech revolution — a land of entrepreneurial opportunity, kaleidoscopic documents, data tabulations, bean bag chairs, tremendous glass windows covered with dry-erase computations, and red bricks weathered by fog — seemed a world away for those of us who were indoctrinated with dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, writers and skilled laborers. And thus, it wasn’t until my family moved to the Bay Area during my senior year of high school, was the allure of this inspiring, anthemic new world realized. Even still, it took another five years of going to university, dropping out, and soul-searching to figure out that I wanted to be a part of the new world, the revolution, the next generation. I needed to be. Allow me to outline for you five main considerations that led me to this discovery:
Fell in Love with the Process
You are probably familiar with the old adage: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This haunted me for most of my teenage years, and all of my, albeit relatively new, adult life. I was beginning to doubt whether I would ever find meaning in life, and it wasn’t until the onset of coronavirus and the subsequent quarantines did I decide to try my hand at coding. I took a free course, and was immediately hooked, spending my days learning code, and practicing on CodeWars. Previously, nothing could pique my curiosity for more than a couple of hours at a time, and now I am frustrated every day when evening turns to night and it is time to turn off my computer.
Albert Einstein once said: “The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Coding is often pigeonholed as being reserved for the geeks, gamers, and math nerds. And while it does take a certain analytical mind to pick apart the complex logic you may be faced with in a particular problem, creativity plays a major role in coding as well, evidenced by musicians successfully transitioning into the field. As someone who often dreamt of becoming the next great American novelist — continuing the legacy of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and my personal literary hero, Jack Kerouac — I was worried that my creativity would be wasted in this endeavor, yet I have come to find that coding is the perfect outlet.
For people who love to learn new things — continuously searching for a new understanding of how and why — the field of software engineering offers them an unparalleled opportunity to do just that. Every day when I wake up, I know that I will go to bed much more knowledgable, and that is probably the most addicting part of this venture. You can quantitatively see personal growth, and it is incredibly rewarding. A field that evolves at the rate of software engineering promises no experts, only students and their lifelong quest for comprehension.
It is difficult to mention reasons to start coding without broaching the topic of job opportunities, and yes, the generous compensation that comes with those jobs. Yes, this should factor into your decision to start your journey in software engineering, as it did mine, but it should not be the only factor. If you talk to software engineers, they all love coding. They are obsessed with it, and it is for that reason, and the opportunity for growth in the field, that it has become so popular. There are an abundance of programming jobs because there are an abundance of people who love programming, not vice versa.
Endless Upward Mobility
Finally, and this is a big reason why I started to code, is the opportunity for upward mobility within the field of software engineering. Inside of a company, somebody who starts off debugging code has the opportunity to become an engineer, and design projects. Outside of the corporate world, coders have the potential to build anything they can dream. As coders, we are all given a blank canvas with which we can create real, positive change in the world, producing brighter futures for our posterity.