My Hour of Code
On December 9, 2014, I participated in the the Hour of Code, an international event that encourages students (of all ages!) to try coding for an hour. President Obama even participated this year as part of the effort. The idea is to dispel a lot of misconceptions about coding and expose more people to this potential career path.
I went to Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn with a few co-workers to talk about what we do and help students out with the coding exercises. After I gave a presentation about the life of a software developer, one of the students asked a very telling question. She asked us how much binary we use at work - the answer is none. There’s no need to talk to computers in 0’s and 1’s anymore. In fact, modern programming languages are a lot more expressive. This points to the fact that there’s an abundance of misconceptions on how software is created.
I personally had a lot of these misconceptions when I was in high school that discouraged me from pursuing this career. Whether it was the poorly equipped instructor, the outdated materials that couldn’t relate to me as a student, or the social pressures to not be a geek, these factors all built a misconception in my mind about what software development was really like.
I told the Hour of Code students that writing software really isn’t easy or hard. All it takes is persistence, time, and resources that can inform without overwhelming. There’s so much content out there on the internet that it’s difficult for someone starting out to filter through it. But there’s there’s also a lot of resources that can cater towards your specific interests (I wish I had those when I was in high school!). If you have even the faintest bit of interest in it, you should give it at least an hour. It’s important to remember that frustration is a natural part of the process.
Misconceptions about software development are hard to break. By going to these schools in person and putting faces to the profession, I really think we can get more students to consider code as a career.