How a Coding Class Opened My Eyes to a New World of Opportunities

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Jaimie Stevens photo (R). Photo (L) courtesy General Assembly Facebook

Before I started working at the non-profit campaign WorkingNation about a year ago, whenever I would hear about coding, my immediate reaction would be it was not my thing. It’s computer science, it’s the tech world – that can’t be for me, right?

But as WorkingNation raised my awareness about the future of work in the U.S., I kept hearing over and over again about how learning to code is one of the greatest approaches to making yourself future-proof in the workplace. Technology is changing the landscape of work. I see it every day, in my own role in the company. There’s no way to hide it, so why not learn to work alongside it?

So I started to ask myself some questions. Do I really want to start taking classes again? Do I have the money for this? How can coding fit into my world – and will I ever fit into the coding world?

As a communications major, I’ve always loved learning whatever language I can to speak to all kinds of different people. So when I talked to my math and science savvy sister about it, she said something to me that stood out: coding is like a language. If you look at it the right way, it’s a type of expression that can introduce you to an entirely new group of people, and, as a result, open up many new opportunities. That’s when I realized this was something I could do.

Many people are learning to code through numerous programs because they want to be a part of this community. So I decided to take a free introductory class through General Assembly, a coding school startup that offers courses in coding, marketing, UX & design, product management, data science, and career development.

It was eye-opening to see people there from all different careers and it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one taking a stab at something new – everyone was there, in one way or another, to learn a new skill that could improve their careers. 

The class gave students an idea of the web development landscape and where HTML and CSS fit in the web ecosystem. We learned the difference between front-end and back-end code and basic components of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. But the most interesting part of the class identified the different functions of the front-end languages. By the end of the class, students were marking up a basic webpage at codepen.io using HTML and CSS.

If you had told me a year ago that I could take a coding class and enjoy it, I never would have believed you. Thanks to this experience, I see more clearly the opportunity I have to improve my future in the workplace. All it takes is the right approach to learning a new skill and the willingness to step into a new world.

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