When I used to hear the word 'coding', I would picture an image a little like the one below:
That’s really all I considered until I was 19. Then, I started a company that needed a website and it was the first time I asked “How is a website made?”. For someone who had a computer in their house from about the age of 10 and a mobile phone from the age of 8, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered asking before.
So what is code then, if it isn’t those green lines?
If you’ve ever wondered what the green rain actually is, read this from the creator of the iconic code.
Code is a set of rules and instructions that we give a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language. Someone who works with code is typically called a programmer, developer, or engineer.
What can you do with code?
How long have you got?!
In essence though, everything digital requires code. The apps you use, the websites you visit, the Alexa or Google Home you speak to, the satnav that guides your car, the McDonald's self-ordering kiosk, your Nest fire alarm or thermostat that protects your home, the step tracking device you wear are all powered by code.
Maybe these are obvious though. There are some less thought about examples:
When you type on a keyboard, the process from hitting a key to seeing it on the screen is a form of coding.
ATM’s are designed and programmed by engineers.
Data collection and analysis. We have so much data at our hands now. We require data developers and analysts to make sense of it and pull out results.
Robots such as ones that help build cars, put toothpaste caps on in factories, help with medical operations...even the vacuum robot!
Coding is also used in jobs now that traditionally did not need it. For example, marketers are using it to build newsletters and manipulate layouts on things like blog posts, while graphic designers are using it a lot more as design trends move towards digital.
Do you need to learn how to code?
I started 23 Code Street out of frustration with the technology industry. Products and services were being created without considering 50% of the population. One of these moments was when Apple released a health app with an alcohol tracker but not a period tracking feature.
I began working at a technology accelerator working with start-ups and brands, and I began to see how many times I was not just the only woman in the room, but also the only woman in the room with a technical understanding. So I could see why, perhaps, decisions were being made when women weren’t even in the room to contribute to them.
As a response to this, I started 23 Code Street to create a workforce that was more representative of our society. More women and those who identify as women; more people of colour; just more. I realised that we had to give tools to the people who were closest to the problem so that they could envision, and maybe even create, a solution.
This is why we have always had a one-for-one model: for every paying student in the UK we teach a woman in the slums of Mumbai. We are very early on in our journey in India as it takes time to get it right and connect with the right people and audience, but the company is now just over two years old, here in the UK.
I do believe you should learn to code. There are lots of different languages you can learn, depending on what it is you want to be able to do and create. The demand for coding skills is growing faster than the average. Coding is now required in every industry, so even having the ability to have technical conversations or understand the conversations taking place gives you a place at the table.
Coding can make a fulfilling career on its own too. You will always be in demand, you can work remotely, it’s incredibly well paid, and it’s super creative- I mean, just think of Angry Birds!
It can be a very social job - I hate the stereotype of sitting behind a computer with your headphones on. Most developers work in teams and some use a technique called pair programming, where you code with another person. Finally, if you have a side hobby or business, or even if you want to run your own company, having the ability to build it yourself, or at least translate your imaginings into a basic minimal viable product to excite other people and persuade them to come on board, is an unbelievably exciting skill to have!
Anisah Osman Britton is the founder and CEO of 23 Code Street.