Are you considering a career in a field related to coding, but aren't sure if it's right for you? As the founder of Epicodus, a school for people who want to pursue tech careers, people ask me about this all the time, and I always tell them the same thing: the only way to know is to try it out. For people who want to jump into a full-time class, Epicodus makes it easy to try out by letting students take the first five weeks of our program free. But if you're not ready to enroll in a full-time program, here are a few other things you can try.
I recently taught a programing class for kids using Scratch, a visual programming tool for creating games and animations. It was so successful that I've started recommending it as a starting point for people of any age to try coding for the first time. Because it's a drag-and-drop tool, you can't make typos or use a programming feature incorrectly. These constraints let you focus on learning to code without getting hung up on the syntax of a language, or tooling of an environment. But it's still powerful enough to build cool animations like this animated city, and games like this volleyball game. Make sure you don't overlook the step-by-step tutorials on the right side of the Scratch interface that will guide you through building your first projects. You can also "remix" other Scratch user's projects to see how they built things, and make changes to their ideas. Once you get programming concepts down with Scratch, you can apply them to real-world programing languages.
Other online resources
Beyond Scratch and Thimble, there are innumerable other online resources for learning to code. Google recently released an app called Grasshopper to teach coding basics, and Khan Academy has free lessons as well. Codecademy and Treehouse are two of the longest-standing beginner-focused coding sites that go into more intermediate coding concepts.
If you decide that you want to put in the work to become a professional developer, my school Epicodus offers its entire curriculum online for free at learnhowtoprogram.com. If you're the kind of person with the motivation, patience, and self-discipline to spend hundreds of hours practicing by yourself, you can go through learnhowtoprogram.com and get a great coding education for no money at all.
At some point, though, most people find it valuable to learn to code in a classroom with a teacher and other students. That's why I started Epicodus! Many coding schools, Epicodus included, offer part-time classes, so you can try them out before committing to a full-time program. I highly recommend this route for anyone considering code school, because it gives you an opportunity to make sure the school is right for you before quitting your job or making other big life changes. Plus, they're often much cheaper than full-time programs (Epicodus's 15-week part-time classes are $600), and their tuition can often be credited toward a full-time program if you choose to continue (this is the case at Epicodus).
You may hear myths about what personality types or college majors make "good" coders, but the truth is that you won't know if coding is right for you until you try it! While Epicodus is unique in offering its first five weeks free so you can truly try before you buy, there are many other free and inexpensive online and part-time options available, no matter where you are, or what school you're considering.
This piece was sponsored by Epicodus.
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Epicodus is a full-time, in-person coding bootcamp that provides job search assistance and includes an internship with a tech company. Students enroll for free for the first five weeks and are invited to finish the program if they have sufficient grades and comply with all the guidelines.