Why you should learn how to code and where to start?

I gave a speech at SolarCity Toastmasters today. Here is my speech transcript.

Steve Jobs once said, “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Marc Andressen has a famous article, “Why Software Is Eating The World,” about how software is automating all kinds of routine jobs, and coding is becoming a digital literacy. Therefore today, I want to tell you why you should learn how to code and where to start.

There are three main benefits I think coding can bring you. First is job opportunities; second is the fun to create your own projects; third is the super power in the future.

First of all, job opportunities: Have you ever been to a cool tech office? The office space includes ping pong table, free meals, free drinks, free snacks, on-site coffee shop, ice cream shop, and gym. The reason why these companies provide so many perks is to attract the best people to join them. And a big portion of the talents they are looking for are software engineers. According to a report in 2012, an estimated 1 million technology jobs will go unfilled by 2020. The main reason is because only 1 in 4 schools teach computer science. The Wall Street Journal and even the White House repeatedly cite the projection, ringing a nationwide alarm of a severe shortage in tech talent. In fact, a recent survey from last September disclosed that tech shortage may be at its highest level since 2008. Tech companies are looking for software engineers, and even non-tech companies are looking for talents as well. Last month, UnitedHealth Group posted the most tech job listing on Monster.com. This means that if you know how to code and are willing to be a software engineer, there are tons of job opportunities for you.

Second of all: fun to create your own things: Have you ever desired to create your own website, build a simple game, or create a program to help you track stocks for investment? Have you ever wondered what it will take to start? Well, you might be surprised to know that lots of tasks you want to achieve might not be as difficult as you think. Once you have some fundamental knowledge, you can find lots of code examples online and use them directly. One famous phrase in the computer science field is, “never reinvent the wheel yourself.” If you want to achieve something, 99% of the time, someone already did that before. You can just copy the code and modify it for your needs. One advantage in the computer science world is its openness. People open-source their code online, which means you can freely use the code for your needs without worrying about copyright and fees.

Third of all: super power in the future: Computers are everywhere. We all depend on technology to communicate, to go from one place to another, to share our happy and sad moments, but a very low ratio of people know how to code. If you know how to code, you would have the ability to press a button and show your results on millions and even billions of screens. We are the first generation in the history to ever have that kind of power. It’s amazing and it’s the closest thing humans have to super power. The programmer of tomorrow are is like the wizard of the future. You are gonna to look like you have magic when you create things from scratch. How awesome is that.

You might find coding intimidating, but what isn’t when you start something new? It’s no different than learning to play an instrument. Some of you know I don’t have a computer science degree, and I didn’t take any programming class at school. I learned it all through online classes. You don’t have to be a genius to code; you just need to be determined. It’s more about tacking down big problems into small pieces and asking the computer to do each task for you. I would suggest you to explore a few websites to learn the basics of programming: first one is code.org: the hour of code section definitely is a good start if you don’t have any experience. second one is Code School, which can be helpful if you have target fields to learn in mind. Third one is Udacity, which provides more in-depth options and nanodegree classes.

To sum up, software is eating the world, and change is immutable. I believe everyone should learn how to code to have more job opportunities. Because it’s not as difficult as you think and there are lots of code examples online already, you might find it’s easy to build up your project. Lastly, if you know how to code, you are like a wizard of the future that can make cool things happen. If you want to learn how to code today, check hour of code section in code.orgCode school and Udacity provide more in-depth materials after you have a clear idea which field you are interested in pursuing. Happy coding!

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