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Josh Nelson ⚡️
Josh Nelson ⚡️

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Why I'm Teaching Myself to Code in 2020

I had a brief run-in with programming in high school. My brother was interested in it, so I bought the book Coding For Dummies and couldn’t make it through 20 pages. I try CodeCademy and that lasted less than I week, so I move on and forget all about it.

What Sparked My Interest

Fast forward 5 years and I’m at a career fair in my senior year of college, when a recruiter at my dream company asks me a question about a job on my resume. I respond with, “Well I was tasked with building and executing on a full-stack content strategy”, having no idea what full-stack meant, I thought it sounded professional.

She responds, “Oh full-stack, do you do full-stack software development?”. I obviously respond with no, and she responds with, “Oh dang, if you did we’d hire you right here. But, yeah you can apply for marketing internships online!”.

I leave there frustrated. All I wanted at this time was a good job and wasn’t having any luck getting any leads. So I think back to what that recruiter said, “full-stack developer”, and thought “what the hell is that?”. I stay up late that night doing some research and get introduced to front-end development.

I had built websites before using themes and such, but seeing what front-end development really was, I was immediately sold. I bought a book on Amazon and dove right in. You can read about my journey up until now, here.


That’s the story of how I got interested in programming – I wanted to be indispensable and sought after for jobs. But as a Marketing Major at average University, it was the other way around.

I felt as if learning to code, becoming this, “full-stack developer”, would make a difference.

My Reasons

During the first couple of weeks, I fell in love. I loved digital experiences, I would go to Awwwards and just browse websites, even CodePen and just browse through cool projects. I remember thinking that making something cool was my dream.

I love the micro-interactions like buttons, forms and other stuff like that. I would just think about how cool it could be if I could make stuff like that. Thanks, Aaron Iker.

But what really drew me into coding was the lifestyle. I’m not an extrovert, and I love spending time at home with family and those close to me. I had heard how easy it was to work remotely, and I had just read The 4-Hour Work Week and was sold on that idea of working from home.

Besides remote work, the elephant in the room is the salary. It is no secret that software developers make great money. And while I’ve never been someone to chase money, this is one benefit that helps in the long run.

Other than the lifestyle, I have always had this nagging sense that I would start a business one day. After growing up through the SaaS era, working for a SaaS startup, and being around digital business, I thought that was for me. This lead me to think that I needed to learn to code to execute a build a web product for a business.

The Bottom Line

The one similarity between all of these reasons is that they are long-term oriented. None of these goals are short-term but will affect my life way down the road. Being 20 years old, it’s hard to remember that the big payoffs for the hard work it will take to learn to code will take time.

But, hopefully, when I look back in 20 years I will be grateful I made the decisions I am making today. Learning to code is no easy, or short-term task but I believe by sticking with it that it will pay off.

Why 2020

The start of the new decade, a fresh beginning! I’ve been slowly making progress so that I can hit 2020 on the ground running. I figure if I put my head down and work for a year, I will be ready to build cool projects and begin looking for beginner jobs.

I am in no rush to find a job or start my career. I want to be ready, and ready to contribute.

So why 2020? Because software development is going nowhere and I’ll have plenty of time to find my dream job when I’m ready.

Recap TL;DR

  • I was having trouble finding marketing jobs and a recruiter said if I was a full-stack developer I’d be hired right there
  • Did research, found interest in front-end development
  • Ended up loving the process early on
  • I love the micro-interactions and UI/UX of good websites and want to build stuff like that
  • The lifestyle, work-life balance, and salary are ideal
  • Ability to build my own products for future business endeavors
  • Trouble remembering the work will pay off later in life

Top comments (2)

steveblue profile image
Stephen Belovarich • Edited

The world needs more design / UX centric UI engineers. Don’t limit yourself on the frontend with JavaScript, learn Node.js too. Rapid prototype some app ideas end to end. Learn by doing, learn from making mistakes. While a lot of places say they want fullstack engineers you’ll have no problem finding a job if you are really good at implementing UI.

egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

One of recruiters favorite interview questions to ask those who learned to code non-traditionally is "Why code?" - this sums it up!