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What Learning to Program has Done For Me

Learning to program was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life. I started to learn a little over a year and a half ago, in early 2012. I’d started and stopped a dozen times before I learned that learning to program requires an idea. Getting my feet wet as a programmer has opened so many doors for me. For example, it landed me my technical co-founder for Uncover. And although I consider myself a non-career programmer and an entrepreneur instead, I could always brush up on my skills and take a programming job if I needed to. We all know that programmers are in great demand.

More than anything else, learning to program has made me new friends. Since I learned, I’ve come to know new people through programming Meetups in NYC and through people reaching out to me from the articles I’ve written on Treehouse’s Blog and through my own website. Those emails have led to coffee meetings, Skype calls and long email threads. It always brightens my day to chat with a programmer.

I’ve also gained a lot more respect from my peers. Knowing how to build something gives you a lot of clout around the Product table. While my success in a non-technical role gave me a lot of leverage, being able to build what I’m talking about was the missing piece of the puzzle that I was looking for to reinforce my standing.

I love the hunger and curiosity of programmers. Their energy always motivates me to work a little harder and make smarter decisions. For programmers it’s not just getting the work done that counts; it’s also a matter of taking into consideration all of the job’s constraints and coming up with the best solution. There are few other professions in which people have a chance to develop radically new fundamental skills that sharpen their focus and teach this sort of realistic decision-making. If I had not learned to program, it would have been harder for me to apply the pragmatism inspired by limited options to my own work.

I believe that programmers look at the world differently. They question everything. Nothing is taken for granted. This can also lead to squabbles on Stack Overflow or GitHub about how best to implement something or what programming language is best for what, but we all do benefit from these disagreements. Since they are in the open, anyone can contribute and learn from them. The programming community has taught me to explain my through process in product decisions to more people in open discussion. We build better things when everyone has input.

Taken altogether, I think there are many life and work skills that can be learned from programming that don’t actually involve writing code. Programming is something everything should try. You will walk away looking at the world in a different light, as I have.

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