5 Biggest Myths about Learning to Code

There are sooo many myths and misconceptions about learning to code and being a developer! Here are the 5 myths that I’ll address.

  1. You have to have a computer science degree or certification.
  2. You can learn how to code in 3-6 months.
  3. You’ll feel ready one day to apply for a job.
  4. You are too old to learn how to code.
  5. You should expect to learn everything you need to become a developer for free.

You have to have a computer science degree or a certification.

Most employers only want to know that you can get the job done in most fields!

How many new grads spend years getting their Bachelors and Masters only to struggle to get a job because they don’t have any experience?

I think most of us have been there! So if you think that getting a degree is a guarantee to getting a developer job, think again.

Society has brainwashed us to think a degree is a guarantee for success.

A computer science degree gives you a good theoretical foundation, but it doesn’t offer the practical skills and experience that employers look for. Many computer science grads also struggle to get a job.

What you need is to prove that you have the skills – through building projects on your own, contributing to open source projects, freelancing or volunteering.

You can learn how to code in 3-6 months.

You all think there’s something wrong with you when you can’t do it as fast, and you think EVERYONE is learning to code at the speed of light. Am I right?

This is total BS and comes from all the click-baity headlines from bootcamps and online learning resources trying to sell you their product.

If you read the stories behind the headline, you’ll discover that the interviewee spent some time tinkering around before they decided to go all in and change their career.

Their timeline might be 3-5 years from the time they wrote the first line of code to actually getting their first developer job.

So no, everyone is not learning how to code quickly, and you’re not behind. It really does take a long time to get used to thinking programmatically, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Most career transitions take a few years, so expect this to take a few years too.

You’ll feel ready one day to apply for a job.

I’m sorry to tell you that you’ll never feel quite ready. Even as an experienced developer, I look at job descriptions, and sometimes I feel like I can’t do the job (even though I can).

The job description is a very vague / imperfect way to describe an ideal person. Sometimes, the company might not have even thought about how someone with your background can benefit them until you show up! Sometimes, they meet you, and they love you so much that they CREATE A JOB FOR YOU.

Start applying before you feel ready.

Apply if you match 50% of the job description. Studies have shown that women apply when they match 80-100% of the job description vs men apply when they match 40-60%.

Not only do you limit your pool of potential jobs to apply for, but you are also skipping out on jobs that will take your career to the next level!

You just have to start applying. If you don’t get any response, you can figure out what’s happening – do you really need more experience or do you need to revise your applications?

You are too old to learn how to code.

This one really gets me riled up – and I’ve seen it come from people who are 25!! TWENTY-FIVE! You’ve barely started your career and you already think it’s over. Literally WTF.

Coding is a skill that anyone can acquire (like most skills). You don’t have to start as a child to pick up a new skill. There are hundreds of stories of people starting to code in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. (Read about Geneviève Fournier who transitioned in her 40’s here.)

How I like to think about this is say you retire at 70 and you start to work at 22.

70 – 22 = 48 total years of working

How many years do you have left to work? My guess is it’s like 30+ years!

Are you going to spend over 30 years doing something you don’t want, or are you willing to spend some of that time to transition? Even it takes you 10 years, you’ll still have 20 years left doing something you love!

You should expect to learn everything you need to become a developer for free.

The proliferation of free content makes everyone think that you shouldn’t have to pay a dime to learn. If all we needed was free content, everyone who wants to be a developer would be one.

To be fair, you CAN learn anything for free, but is it the fastest and most effective way?

For example, I can watch YouTube videos about swimming techniques and try to practice them in the pool myself, but I’d be struggling a lot. Even if I managed to learn how to swim, my technique will be awful without any feedback.

I’d save myself a lot of time and frustration by getting some group swimming lessons AND practicing on my own.

The same is true for learning to code!

You need feedback, direction and accountability. You’re not entitled to a transition into a highly paid career without investment and sacrifice.

So budget for some quality courses, a tutor or start saving up for a bootcamp. There’s literally something for every budget.

Conclusion

Hopefully you are freed from the biggest misconceptions that are holding you back.

Some of this might sound like bad news – you have to invest in yourself, it’s going to take longer than 3-6 months – BUT knowing them is going to save you so much pain down the line.

When it’s taking you a few years to transition, you’ll know it’s normal and not beat yourself up.

When you invest in a course or a mentor, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and speed up your learning.

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Hi, I'm Jenny. I'm a developer with 3 years of experience. Welcome to the most supportive community for female developers!



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