As I worked toward my Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, it seemed reasonable that I would need to learn to code. Most physics isn’t done with a pen and paper (not the hard stuff, anyway). There are pre-existing programs and tools that can analyze and simulate pretty much anything, and if something doesn’t exist? That’s something you’ll have to code yourself.
In my four-year degree, I took four computation courses in four different programming languages: Java, C, Python, and MATLAB. (You may not have heard of MATLAB, but if you’re in physics or engineering, a good knowledge of MATLAB is super useful.) Each course was taught at an introductory level, so while I didn’t become particularly comfortable with any of the languages, I did get used to the idea of the type of thinking that programming requires.
Technology is everywhere in the workplace.
Whether you’re in Marketing, Finance, Business Development, Supply Chain, or anywhere else, you will come in contact with technology as part of your professional duties, even if it’s just a simple process improvement or website. The more comfortable you are with technology, the more likely you are to use it effectively within the context of your business. I’ve noticed that my non-IT colleagues with some sort of tech background are always the ones with the best ideas on how to use technology to meet their goals. And that’s just for a coffee shop!
Think like a programmer.
I currently work in a branch of the IT department at my company. However, none of the programming for the projects I coordinate is done in-house; we trust external vendors who know these products best. When starting a new project, it’s easy to just say, “I want the computer to do this!” and hope that the developers can figure out what the heck you’re talking about, and how to actually execute it. But if you are able to think through any potential issues from a computational perspective, anticipating complexities and perhaps circumventing them with alternate strategies, you can save a lot of back-and-forth over execution — or the nightmares that can ensue when someone outside your business makes a judgment call that doesn’t align with your vision, just to get the project done. The better you understand what the programmers can do and how they’ll do it, the better your end result will be.
Code your way to new opportunities.
Because technology is everywhere, you may find yourself qualified for roles and projects that you otherwise wouldn’t have been without some basic coding knowledge. This can be within your current workplace, or even beyond it. A LinkedIn profile for someone who knows how to code is a hot commodity! In fact, LinkedIn’s Top 25 Most In-Demand Career Skills list from this past January is very heavily biased toward technical skills. And guess what three skills conveniently show up on that list? Knowing how to code in Java, C, and Python. Now, obviously an employer would be looking for programmers with proficiency far beyond mine. But if it’s a company with a big focus on tech (which is pretty much all of them), then a well-rounded individual with soft-skill expertise and coding experience might be the perfect fit.
I’ll also mention that an understanding of basic code also helps with personal endeavours — like blogging! The structure of many programming languages is similar or analogous to many others, so picking up a bit of CSS/HTML that helps with blogging is a breeze once you’ve spent some time coding.
So what are you waiting for? Hop on over to Codecademy with me and learn some code!