I have never swear so often in my entire life. I looked at the computer screen for hours, trying to fix a bug in my application. The source of the problem seemed to avoid me, pushed me into a cycle of anxiety, self-loathing, and venting anger at the keyboard.
The cause is one typo in a file name.
There was also a time when I felt proud. Like when I wrote my first script and ran it successfully. Or when I enter my first application on the server, it says “hello world.” Or when I first write a crawler to fill a database. I feel like God ordered the minions in code to carry out my orders.
Programming is an opiate that makes me come back again despite the bitterness of the first experience that I got. And that sums up my experience of two years of learning to code.
We laugh at the engineers
Like most wannabe technologists, I was fascinated by the shining world of Silicon Valley and the expertise that geeks have. In fact, I was the type of person who didn’t really attach great importance to engineers. I attended a technical university but majored in communication dominated by women. We underestimate engineers because they have no sense of fashion or social ability, feel awkward when in the midst of women, and have poor grammar. Someone once said that I looked like an engineer – and I felt ashamed.
Of course, this sounds stupid now. However, at that time, I was in college and had not seen what the real world was like. “Silicon Valley” means nothing but a place far away.
But one thing about me that you don’t know – I was the president of the IT club in middle school. I learned HTML and flash, spent my free time playing Sim City 3000, and created a website about the game. I always have a geek side in me.
It didn’t take long for me to embrace that side again. The film The Social Network was released in the last year of my university. After graduating, I joined the young Singapore startup scene as a technology journalist.
I seemed to be surrounded by a trend that everyone should learn how to code. Being a programmer is cool, and I lie if I have never fantasized about it.
Circumstances have reversed. Many of my college friends at communication schools eventually joined internet companies or became public relations for technology companies. The technology created by the geeks we were laughing at is changing the world of journalism.
And this coding learning movement is more lively because it’s very easy to start learning it. At that time, the open-source movement had developed in such a way that anyone could easily seek help, resources, and documentation through Google.
This coding learning movement has developed into an industry, and there is still plenty of room in the market, due to the insufficient supply of engineers.
If you want to learn programming as a new year’s resolution, then this article is for you. I share this personal history, not because of narcissism (well, maybe a little), but to illustrate the reality that exists:
Your past determines how to learn to code
I started learning programming at the end of 2012 – more than one year after starting my first job. This puts me in a very disadvantageous position if I want to make this a career.
I will compete directly with new university graduates who may have started learning about the program since they were 12 years old. Their salary expectations are lower, and they may have less serious relationship commitments. I had to change my life goals, postpone financial targets, and pursue an alternative career while facing small sacrifices. In fact, it is unlikely that I will continue to pursue this field.
It all ended in this: I have invested years of my life in a changing but still healthy career in the media industry. I enjoy what I do and am not experiencing a 25-year crisis. I do not have the financial ability or incentive to enter fully into this new field.
So this is what happened: I learned coding in my free time and made sure that my hobbies did not interfere with my main job. It is difficult, but the only way is to sacrifice my free time.