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Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan

Posted on • Updated on

"Non-technical" is not a thing.

TL;DR: “Non-technical” is a false and limiting label that keeps people from discovering rewarding things.

For the majority of my life, I considered myself a card carrying member of right-brained, reading-and-writing-oriented people club. I've played music my whole life, and I majored in History at a liberal arts college where I did not take a single math or science class.

All of my professional experience since college has been under the marketing and communications umbrella. When I moved to New York, my first gig was at a PR firm where I wrote spammy emails to journalists. Not loving that, (enormous understatement), about six months later, I started looking around for jobs again, and eventually started working at a market research firm.

For the last three years, I’ve been heading up digital marketing for a professional association that serves mainly research and academic computer scientists, and it was here that I realize something that for the entirety of my right brained existence seemed completely impossible: I like to code.

It started innocently enough. I have to touch up a little HTML when I update our website content, and one day while doing this, I thought I’d dig a little deeper. I started doing some front-end web development tutorials on Team Treehouse, and I was hooked. I kept digging. Over the last year or so, I’ve worked on a few projects, worked through a few Udemy classes on front-end development, went to some JavaScript meetups in New York.

I’ve been able to build a good foundation of knowledge on my own, but recently I realized that I wanted more structure and accountability, so after researching a few online bootcamp options (quitting my job to go full time wasn’t really on the table), I decided to go with Bloc.

I want to be a web developer. I want to make a career out of making great products and continuously learning new technologies and skill sets, and I want to be around other people are also drawn this type of work. I knew this intellectually before I started Bloc, but now it feels much more real and attainable.

I’ve come to realize that the tech industry, and more specifically the web development community within it, is not full of lonely, isolated weirdos who like staring at their computer screens more than being with other people. It’s full of creative and supportive individuals who love to learn and build things, and help other people do the same while they’re at it.

One of the reasons why it took me so long to understand this has to do with a limitation in the way humans make sense of the world. Things are complicated, so naturally, people take some shortcuts to help make sense of it all. One of these shortcuts is to put people and things into categories that, more often than not, are split down the middle by a giant wedge. This applies to how we talk about the pursuits in life that others that are likely to be good at or not so good at, and how we apply words like “technical” or “creative” to the types of people who would excel at things like programming and writing or playing music.

It’s important for people with educational and professional leverage to think about how hoarding students and employees into groups prevents people on both sides of the divide from discovering enriching and rewarding experiences. When educators and policy makers think about how to close the skills gap in technology, it’s not enough to simply bring more STEM programs to schools — we need to think about how to talk about sciences in a way that makes them feel less cold and distant to people who have already been told that their talents lie elsewhere.

To those of you firmly entrenched in the "creative" camp: sit down with a tutorial on front-end web development and see what you think. You may find it exciting and rewarding, just like I did. And to those in technical town: pick up an instrument, write a play, or make some origami. Our schools and jobs don't often encourage us to venture to the other sides of our brains, so we have to be proactive.

Top comments (2)

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

😂 😂 I always love the amount of people who come from bootcamps.

Sadly I don't have much co-workers.

Who are from coding bootcamps, time to recruit for more of people in coding bootcamp.

I just guess that the amount of tech talents is in hot demand.

cubiclebuddha profile image
Cubicle Buddha

I love this kind of attitude and motivation. Some of my favorite coworkers are those that have come out of code camps. I’m also self taught but that’s just because my degree wasn’t as programming centric as they had advertised in the brochure! Haha. But I just wanted to write and to congratulate you on having the right attitude. People always want to work with those who are enthusiastic. Also, thank you for reminding people that the compartments that other people categorize us in are rarely accurate. For instance, I was once labeled as not being emotionally intelligent enough at work... now I have 100+ in the queue for a blog that teaches how to treat yourself and your coworkers better. I’ve surprised even myself! Haha. Best of luck to you. I have no doubts that you will be successful. :)