“How’d the interview go?” I asked.
“Feel like my head it going to explode…” Judah mentioned.
“Here’s the riddle they gave me: Write a function that will display the angle between the hour hand and the minute hand on an analog clock for any given time.”
My partner, Judah, was applying to coding bootcamps across the country. For those unfamiliar with what a coding bootcamp is, it is a school where one is expected to go from no knowledge in computer programming (although it’s common to have gotten your feet wet before applying), to a junior developer level on an average of 13 weeks later. For 13 weeks you live, breathe, and sweat code. Most of them have a job placement rate percentage in the upper 90’s, with average starting salaries upwards of $70,000. Talk about the power of immersion…
I’d always loved riddles – especially a good math one. I let it sit with me for a day or two, until something hit me.
“Wait a minute…if we divide the clock into 60 units….1 for each minute…then we can assume the hour hand will move1/60th each minute, or exactly half way between the number it started on and the following number after 30 minutes…” More thoughts started appearing in my head like a prophetic vision getting me closer to the solution. I ran to my computer and ended up putting the answer in excel – i’d couldn’t remember the last time i felt so excited.
Thus started my first experience with what it meant to be a coder. Here are some reasons for why I have fallen in love with coding:
1) Computer Programming Allows You to Rely on “Robot” Capital, Rather Than “Human” Capital
Want to do something big in this world? Have an impact? Influence multiple generations to come? No chance you’ll be able to do it on your own. You’ll need many things, one of the most important being labor. One person cannot produce enough output to be able to influence the masses. Flip the juiciest burger in the world and you may be called a hero by some, but you’ll never get the opportunity to serve that burger to thousands of people simultaneously from scattered parts of the world. You’ll need either a bunch of people replicating your recipe, or a factory shipping out tons of burgers ( good luck slapping a “fresh” label on that one). With computer programming, your labor is a robot (aka a computer). Let’s compare the difference between hiring a robot, and hiring a human:
|Hours willing to work||I’ll work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year..even on Christmas and New Years!||I can put in 40 hours a week. Anything passed that will require 1.5x my wages…no chance of me doing more than 80 hours a week unless you want a lawsuit.|
|Reliability||100% – just make sure i have power!||I’m reliable, depending on my mood. Sometimes I have personal matters that i just must address. Work life balance is very important to me.|
|Pay||Free! Just pay to host me and invest your time and knowledge to bring me to life||Minimum wage and overtime when applicable -I also expect periodic raises and bonuses.|
|Prone to error||I will do exactly as you tell me to do, 100% of the time guaranteed.||I’ll work as hard as I can…but I may make a mistake. After all..i’m human.|
I know…it’s a tough call. Human – we’ll be in touch…Robot – when can you start? This very second? Sounds good to me
2)Computer Programming Is Like One Big Puzzle, Allowing You To Flex Your Mental Muscles Continuously
Seriously…that’s exactly what programming is. It’s taking a riddle (ie: How do we design a page that collects a customer’s name and then spits out “Hello” followed by their name), and trying to solve it by writing the simplest, shortest amount of code. It’s a never ending mentally stimulating activity, assuming you are not doing repetitive tasks of course (they have a rule for that in programming..it’s called Don’t Repeat Yourself). Very few jobs in this world can boast about that.
3) Computer Programming Is Easier Now Than Ever To Learn, With Tons of Free Resources At Your Fingertips
Back in the day, if you wanted to learn something, you had to either attend a course at some location, read a book, or watch a VHS (remember those?). Enter the information age. Now, when you want to learn something, you can watch a video on youtube, read a blog post, or interact with tons of free (or close to free) online platforms that will teach you how to code. My favorites have been Codeacademy andTreehouse. They’ll get you to a very comfortable level of knowledge in almost any programming language and make it a fun process. After all…learning should be fun – right?
4) Computers Ain’t Disappearing Anytime Soon
Remember vinyl’s, cd’s and cassette tapes? Lampposts being powered by candles, people traveling via horses, elevators being operated by an operator? All of these things got replaced as society advanced. Music switched to mp3’s, candles to light bulbs, horses to automobiles, and elevators to consumers operating them themselves. If you had a job in any of these areas, you would be replaced in a heartbeat by what society has judged to be a better version of the service you provided. Computers are just getting started. We’re seeing the results of experiments involving computers that have influenced society as we know it on an exponential level. Observe the following examples:
- What happens when you build a search engine so powerful, and so relevant to what you are searching (blocking almost all spam), and release it to the public, free of charge (Google)?
- What happens when you create a superb platform for people to upload video’s easily, free of charge (Youtube)
- What happens when you give people an “online identity” in which they can share pictures from their vacation (Instagram), broadcast status updates on their personal lives to thousands if not millions of people with the click of a button (twitter), and stay in touch with friends and family across the world by taking a peek into what’s going on in their life virtually (Facebook).
- What happens when you put almost every product from every store on one central website, and promise to have it delivered within 48 hours (Amazon).
Although these companies may not be the only ones who ever provided services like these, society has determined them to be the ones who provide it the best. It’s no wonder that Bill gates, Jeff Bezo’s, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are all on Forbes top 20 richest people in the world.
5) Coding is super fun!
Here’s what i’d like you to do. Right click this page and click “Inspect element”. Navigate to the magnifying glass all the way to the left, and click on the screen where it says “Coding is super fun!”. See that? That’s a heading that applies special style to the text everytime i post something in between the brackets <h3> and </h3>. Try double clicking into the text in the inspect element window and making a change to my heading. You’ve officially edited this page! Don’t worry about changing it back…it’ll disappear once you refresh your page. As you can see, all of my HTML is accessible to you! Go copy it to your desktop, blow it up on your wall, hold a press conference and share it with the world – it’s all yours!
Thinking of getting involved in some coding? I promise you, it’s easier than you think. Check out this course on Codeacademy on HTML and CSS. In just 7 hours you can put together a page like this – they do an awesome job of teaching you!