Monthly Archives: August 2015

From Retail to Front End

How and why did you get started with coding?I started coding at first because I was interested in what my husband did for a living. He showed me a few sites where I could learn more about programming and broaden my career opportunities. I started using Codecademy. It was fascinating how easy it became to build something using code. It also made me see that most people didn’t even know what coding was unless they had to learn it when they attended college.

What were your goals when starting to code and how did you keep motivated?At the time I started using Codecademy I was working in the retail sector so there was no time for family. My weekends were never my own and I would be off when everyone else was working and when my son had to attend school. My motivation was wanting to be there for my family. When I started a section in Codecademy, I would study and do the exercises before and after work, even during my lunch breaks to finish the course so that I could move out of retail and do something I found interesting and fun.

What was the most challenging part of learning how to code, and how did you rise above those challenges?The most challenging part was understanding the concepts. When I started learning, everything had to have a reason as to why it needs to look a certain way or why would it do something. I needed to let go of some of the ways I was accustomed to, to learn and see the bigger picture.

How did you start creating your own projects?I started creating my own projects when I went for my first programming interview. I had an internship where I was able to help build projects for others. I worked on projects such as That Art Fair, Shanduka Foundation, Kagiso Shanduka Trust, and IYO Media.

What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking of getting started?Finish what you start. You cannot go into coding if you do not plan on using it all the time. Anyone can start coding and anyone can be great at it if they stick to it and make it fun. Only you can see what it is you want to do with what you learn. Starting out can also be confusing and seem difficult but don’t give up, keep at it and you will start understanding concepts that move you forward. Coding is a unique talent that anyone can learn—so take the opportunity to learn it.

How did you get to where you are now? What did you do after Codecademy?I finished some Codecademy courses and went for an interview at a company in Cape Town, where I started an internship and began gaining some experience in web development. At that internship, I helped build four websites. We moved to Johannesburg and I got an offer at a great company where we build a little bit of everything. I’m currently a Front End Developer at Mann Made Media, and up until today I still use Codecademy to learn different coding languages that I don’t know.

Which steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy?Look for an internship where you can start gaining experience. Any company will take you as long as you have something to show for your learning. Many companies don’t know that you can learn to code on the internet. My current company was impressed that I got as far as I have while working a full time job and learning at the same time. I am living proof that it is possible.

As for the ladies out there, this career is for you too. I was a single mom at the time when I started learning. Take on something different and something challenging and jump at this wonderful learning opportunity that is free for you to explore. Codecademy has helped me learn everything I needed to, to move forward in my career. This learning has helped me overcome challenges in my life and taught me never to give up if something doesn’t work. Find your motivation to do something challenging and different.

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Getting To The Aha Moment

How and why did you get started with coding?

Growing up in parallel with the video game industry, I was always interested in video games and working with computers. When I was young, my grandmother worked for Phillips and she gave us a Phillips G7000—the Magnavox Overseas. It was a cartridge game machine similar to the Atari 2600 and we played it to death. I discovered that one of the cartridges allowed you to do basic hexadecimal coding and I started to draw sprites and move them around the screen. I was hooked.

In my teens, my parents got us a Commodore 64 and I started to fool around writing simple text adventures in Basic. However, I never pursued coding and instead focused on art and design and it was later when I was working in a team building and deploying web projects that one of the developers showed me some simple things I could do with Javascript and HTML. I quickly realized that with HTML I could realize my dreams of making a game. I found Codecademy and started the Javascript course and it all started click, I had the ‘Aha!’ moment.

What were your goals when you started and how did you keep motivated?

As an iPhone user, my main objective was to be able to make a game and deploy it to the Apple App Store. I didn’t really need to be motivated because I’ve found that coding is something that I really enjoy doing. It’s so satisfying when you run your code and it just works or when you’ve got a bug in your code and then when you finally figure it out and everything works, wow! That’’s a buzz!

What was the most challenging part of learning to code, and how did you rise above those challenges?

After deciding on what language/framework to learn, the hardest aspects for me have been learning the syntax and understanding the various coding concepts and paradigms. Originally I thought that programming was a finite thing, but I’ve discovered over time that there are lots of ways of the doing the same thing. What is best in one situation might not work well in another.

How did you start creating your own projects?

I was interested in making games, so after I finished the Javascript course on Codecademy, I started to research a good HTML5 game engine. I ended up going with ImpactJS. It has a good API, is really well documented, and the community around that engine are really encouraging and helpful. The developer of ImpactJS also has another open source project called EjectaJS which binds Javascript to Objective C. This meant I could deploy onto iOS with minimal effort—perfect!

Then, I prototyped a few ideas and when I found something I thought would be fun, I committed to it and gave myself a 6 month deadline to build it. As I have a background in design, art, and animation, I was able to create all of my own assets and was able to focus most of my energy on building.

What advice would you give to folks just starting out or thinking about getting started?

Like they say, just do it. It seems hard at first but honestly it doesn’t take long before it all starts to make sense. Like Neo from the Matrix, the world opens up and you start to see everything in 1’s and 0’s. I’ve discovered that once you can understand and read one language, you soon discover that the concepts and structures are similar across all languages. Being able to read and understand code is such a valuable skill in this day and age. Learning to code is very empowering.

How did you get to where you are now?

I founded a game studio, Rungo Games, and have released my first game Devil’s Doom to the App Store. I’m now working on the Android version, and after showing the game at a local game conference recently (AVCON) I’ve had a lot of requests for a PC release of the game too. You can check it out here.

Moving forward, I want to continue to improve my skillset and release more games. Ultimately it would be great to work with one of the major game developers, so that’s certainly a goal. Hi Ubisoft

What steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy?

Build a web page, start a dev blog. Start building personal projects so you can show people what you can do. Talk to people you know who code and pick their brains. Keep on learning, don’t give up, and remember that after just one course at Codecademy you’re probably already ahead of 90% of people!

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Codecademy Partners With The White House

As part of the White House #TechHire initiative, Codecademy is excited to announce our new partnership with the Obama administration, focusing on helping underrepresented and diverse groups of citizens get the skills they need to find jobs through code.

Programming is the future—a coding education gives anyone the ability and skills to create their own future, businesses, and stable foundations. At this time, wide access to computing education for students is missing. We hope to bring it up a notch through free coding courses, available to anyone with an internet connection.

As a leader in coding education, we find ourselves with a responsibility to help others interested in technology to take the next step. Partnering with Libraries Without Borders in New York, we’ve pledged to reach out to 600 underserved and minority students to participate in Codecademy Meets. This series of events will start at our NYC Codecademy HQ, then grow to different parts of the country, including learners from all backgrounds.

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At Codecademy Meets, our Codecademy team members will talk about today’s importance of a tech education, and go into detail in why and how coding can change lives, create jobs, and nourish skills, as well as provide resources for folks to learn on their own. We’ll be learning hands-on with Codecademy courses that teach valuable programming skills necessary to get started on a new path in technology—all for free.

Coding is for everyone. We’re here to bring it to everyone.

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One Year to Dev

How and why did you get started with coding?

I got my degree in Finance and although I started off in accounting, I kept seeking out more and more technical roles thought my career. After moving to the bay area 2 years ago, landing a job at a startup and being immersed in tech, I started realizing how passionate I was and how much I wanted to be a part of it. Then a year ago, I decided to do a complete career change and see if I could get hired as an engineer at my company.

What were your goals when starting to code and how did you keep motivated?

My big goal when I started learning was to be able to pass a coding interview and get hired on as a full time engineer within my company. I think what kept me motivated was setting a deadline (I gave myself a year) and having accountability. I set up a github repo with coding problems I was working on and would tag friends and coworkers in engineering to review.

What was the most challenging part of learning how to code, and how did you rise above those challenges?

For me, the most challenging part was learning to being comfortable with how things start to click over time and not right away. The analogy I use is that it’s like learning to fix a car. You don’t start by buying a physics textbook and diving into combustion theory. You’d learn what some of the parts are called and how they generally work and start getting your hands dirty without even popping the hood. Before getting into programming, I’d been used to picking up new things quickly and it was a struggle to be patient while the concepts came together over time.

Which resources would you recommend to folks just starting out?

It depends on your learning style but I found a combination of books, online tutorials and in-person classroom training worked best for me. Besides Codecademy, these were some of the most helpful for me:

Programming Ruby, Rosetta Code, Codewars Ruby, Cracking the Coding Interview, and Guide to Ruby.

What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking of getting started?

My advice would be to be patient, know that this stuff is really challenging but it’s absolutely do-able if you’re motivated and there are so many great resources and people dedicated to helping people learn to code. It’s a really great time to do it.

How did you get to where you are now? What did you do after Codecademy?

Currently I’m a software engineer at Airbnb. I got here by setting a very clear goal, talking to a lot of people about what I needed to do to accomplish it, and working extremely hard. I actually still use Codecademy pretty regularly for examples of things I run into while working on projects and to pick up the basics of a new language. It’s really great at getting you up to speed quickly.

Which steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy?

A lot of companies are still hesitant about hiring people without a traditional CS degrees, so a good piece of advice someone gave me was to build a case for yourself to show why you’re qualified. Have some some personal projects on your resume and use things like internships and temp work to get in the door. Also, I was initially turned down when I pitched the idea of transferring, so don’t be afraid to apply repeatedly and for lots of positions.

What would you say to women who may not think they can get started in coding?

Imposter syndrome is amplified for women in STEM fields because they are a minority. I think a hurdle of anyone learning something new is the intimidation a large and ambiguous goal like “learning programming”.

What helped me was breaking things down into smaller goals; get through this problem set, build a really simple web app, read this book. I am also lucky to have a large group of female friends who are engineers and that support network was crucial. Get involved in the community, go to the meetups and surround yourself with people who can give you the support you need to stay confident and motivated.

Watch Kari’s video on how she got to where she is today.

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