What is Programming? Start Learning Today (Free Course Guide)


Jessica-Earley-300x300Jessica Early is the director of  Part-Time Education at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco. Prior to working at Hackbright, she spent a decade working with nonprofits with at-risk youth in disadvantaged areas. She received her BA in Sociology and Education: Applied Psychology from UCSB. At home, Jessica loves to spend time with loved ones, her pets and
collecting strawberry knick knacks. 

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You Don’t have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Code. 

Programming or coding isn’t just for hoodie-wearing, Doritos-eating math prodigies. People who write code come from all different backgrounds. You don’t even need a CS degree. In fact, 59.8% of software engineers, programmers or computer scientist titles do not carry a CS degree, according to Tech Crunch. So if you don’t have a Computer Science Degree and you’re interested in learning to code, you’re in luck!

Step 1: Watch this video

‘What is programming, exactly?’ you ask. We’ve got answers in this quick video on what programming is and how it relates to the computer. Video by Austin Olney.

Step 2: Spend 60 minutes with Python

 

Sign up for free at Codecademy, which hosts a free hands-on Python course that takes an estimated 13 hours to complete. (Look for the link to the course catalog to find the Python course, and to see the many paths a coding career can take. You don’t need to upgrade to the paid Pro membership.)

Why Python? Because it’s one of the most in-demand languages today in many areas of computing, from recreational websites to serious data science. That’s why it’s also the highest-paying language to know for new engineers. Once you’ve learned one programming language, learning others is much easier. So you might as well start with the one that currently maximizes your opportunities.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with just one hour of the tutorial. You’ll get an overview of concepts, and you’ll write and run your first simple Python program. That will give you a basic idea of how code works, and what a software development environment looks like.

Slow and steady learning will get you where you want to be. You’ll be spending a lot more time playing with Python — a lot, because coding is addictive rather than a chore. But before you do, there are some people you should meet.

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Step 3: Follow Online Classroom Resources

Online resources like Youtube have thousands of videos searchable, from every programming lesson possible. From beginner to advance, help ease yourself into the world of programming with instructors and teaching styles of our choice.

Start with Jessica McKellar, an amazing Python developer who has a great class you can follow right along. Free courses like our 10-Day Crash Course are also a great start to the world of coding.

Congrats, you’re coding!

That’s it! You’ve taken your first steps into a new life, and already have new friends with whom to make the journey. You’ll also find them — and others — online. Stack Overflow is where you can talk about coding. GitHub is the go-to place to peruse and share working Python (and every other language) examples with other programmers. Both are also places where managers looking to hire new engineers look for promising candidates.

Bookmark our list 7 Online Coding Resources For Beginners for more tutorial and help sites.

As you progress, you may want some classroom education. Hackbright offers a part-time Intro to Programming night course in San Francisco that runs five hours per week, for 12 weeks. You may find similar courses in your area.

Whatever you do, keep coding, whenever you have even a few minutes. Once you get rolling, it’s as addictive as Facebook. The more time you spend editing, running and debugging algorithms on your screen, the better — and better — you’ll get. Welcome to the club!

And lastly, apply for Hackbright Academy.

If you’re ready to change your career and become a coder or programmer, but don’t have the experience to get accepted into a bootcamp, apply for the Hackbright Prep by March 24. You’ll learn the foundations of programming, how to use necessary tools, and ultimately tackle the bootcamp application process. You’ll work with a one-on-one advisor to track your progress, create your own personal project, and expand your network in our community of like-minded women.

EXCLUSIVE SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS FOR OUR APRIL COURSES:

  • Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners is offering $1,000 scholarships | Apply here!
  • In honor of International Women’s Day this month, every student will receive a $500 scholarship for our Part-Time April courses!

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women. 

Want to Learn to Code? Start Free Today!

Anna AkullianAnna Eventbrite is the Program Manager of Part-Time Education  at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco. Prior to working at Hackbright, she was an engineer at Schoolzilla, a teacher, a researcher at Children’s Hospital, Oakland, and a Hackbright fellow herself. When she’s not at Hackbright, you can find her hiking in the Berkeley Hills or biking around the city.


Coding is powerful. It should be in the hands of smart and critically thinking people like you! It’s a super-useful skill these days, whether you want to become a software engineer, or are just living in the world today and want to understand the jargon and how things work. So many things that we have and use today are based on code. People and policy, not technology, are the solution to the world’s systematic problems. But smart people who learn and understand coding can go out into the world to create and do important things.

If you know you want to code, but aren’t sure where to start, here are three steps to get rolling on a sure-to-succeed path.

Step 1: Watch this video

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The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms is a 50-minute BBC documentary from 2015. It shows all the myriad ways, all the surprising places, that code now serves and influences our personal lives and society at large. Movies, travel, medicine — all these and more have been empowered by computerized math and logic we may not recognize when we look right at it.

You’ll come away much more aware of all the potential for understanding and building the world we are moving into.

Step 2: Spend 60 minutes with Python

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 10.51.41 AM

Sign up for free at Codecademy, which hosts a free hands-on Python course that takes an estimated 13 hours to complete. (Look for the link to the course catalog to find the Python course, and to see the many paths a coding career can take. You don’t need to upgrade to the paid Pro membership.)

Why Python? Because it’s one of the most in-demand languages today in many areas of computing, from recreational websites to serious data science. That’s why it’s also the highest-paying language to know for new engineers. Once you’ve learned one programming language, learning others is much easier. So you might as well start with the one that currently maximizes your opportunities.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with just one hour of the tutorial. You’ll get an overview of concepts, and you’ll write and run your first simple Python program. That will give you a basic idea of how code works, and what a software development environment looks like.

Slow and steady learning will get you where you want to be. You’ll be spending a lot more time playing with Python — a lot, because coding is addictive rather than a chore. But before you do, there are some people you should meet.

Step 3: Meet your local community

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Don’t go it alone! Get out and meet local fellow coders, especially Python coders to start. For one thing, a support group will encourage you, reward you, guide you, and make you feel you are part of something real, rather than just sitting alone at your keyboard.

Second, personal networks are how most jobs of any kind are found today. The people clicking through resumes and applications won’t know and recognize your skills and potential. Real-life colleagues with whom you frequently interact will ignore the keywords on your LinkedIn profile and recruit you for your actual skills and personal traits they’ve come to know.

There are PyLadies meetings in cities around the world. There, women who work and play with Python gather to share ideas, questions, and work opportunities. Don’t worry about being seen as a novice at your first meeting. It’s OK. Everyone was on Day One once. Tell them you’ve done an hour of Codecademy and will be going home to do more after the meeting — unless they invite you for coffee first!

If there isn’t a PyLadies meeting you can get to, google “python meetup” for cities and towns near you. There are Python people everywhere.

Congrats, you’re coding!

That’s it! You’ve taken your first steps into a new life, and already have new friends with whom to make the journey. You’ll also find them — and others — online. Stack Overflow is where you can talk about coding. GitHub is the go-to place to peruse and share working Python (and every other language) examples with other programmers. Both are also places where managers looking to hire new engineers look for promising candidates.

Bookmark our list 7 Online Coding Resources For Beginners for more tutorial and help sites.

As you progress, you may want some classroom education. Hackbright offers a part-time Intro to Programming night course in San Francisco that runs five hours per week, for 12 weeks. You may find similar courses in your area.

Whatever you do, keep coding, whenever you have even a few minutes. Once you get rolling, it’s as addictive as Facebook. The more time you spend editing, running and debugging algorithms on your screen, the better — and better — you’ll get. Welcome to the club!


Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women. 

8 Awesome Gift Ideas for Techies

We all have that person on our list that makes it impossible to get them some generic accessory or nicknack, their unique interests don’t exactly offer outsiders easy and abundant gift ideas. Here at Hackbright we can’t help you much with that uncle whose only passion is fly fishing or your super minimalist, hobby-less roommate, but we do know a whole lot of incredible technical women. So we reached out to our network to find out what exactly women hackers are hoping to receive this holiday season. Hopefully, their wish list will provide a little inspiration for anyone stumped by the girl geek on their list. (Or, feel free to indulge and just splurge on any of these ideas for yourself!)

Eye glasses

1. Computer glasses

Hannah Wright, founder of HR Partner, is personally hoping to find a set of Gunnar Intercept 24K Computer Glasses in her stocking ($79.99). “Not only are the Gunnar Intercept glasses made for high-resolution viewing, but they can also help prevent eye strain, making it much easier to stare at a computer for hours at a time,” she told Hackbright in an email. Several other women mentioned a generic desire for computer glasses too.

arduino-starter-kit_2

2. Arduino kit

If the technical woman in your life is focused primarily on software for work, maybe she would enjoy toying around with something more hands on for fun in 2017. Australian developer Judith Gammie certainly would. That’s why she’d love to get an Arduino kit this year.

“As a developer, I spend my days deep in lines of code. I’ve always wanted to tinker with some hardware, which is why I’d love an Arduino kit,” she explained. “I could do some cool automation stuff with it, or even make a weird little musical instrument.” 

tinsel headphones

3. Awesome headphones

When we reached out to technical women via email and social media to see what they were craving one thing came up again and again — awesome headphones! Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant is dreaming of “new stylish Tinsel headphones. As much as I love my Bose headphones they are not always the ‘cutest’ apparatus to wear and Tinsel offers a great, lighter, and more stylish option that I’m interested in giving a try,” she wrote us.  

Engineer Lori J. Williams meanwhile recommends gift buyers pick up a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones ($129.95), which she owns and loves. Lots of other ladies got in touch with a wish for an excellent pair of noise cancelling headphones. It seems you can’t go wrong with this idea.

stitchfix

4. Stitch Fix

Geek girls like to look stylish as the next woman, which makes Stitch Fix an awesome gift idea. The subscription personal styling service provides all the fashion without any of the hassle. “A personal stylist online who can save me trips to the mall on a busy schedule? I’ll take it,” adds Bryant.  

hairdryer

5. Dyson hairdryer

Similarly, Hackbright alumna, Cristina Pastelero, is hoping for a gift that combines a love of looking your best with an appreciation for fine engineering — a Dyson hairdryer. Though at $399 this combination of fabulous hair and great design doesn’t come cheap.

 

flashdrive

6. A flash drive

Looking for something more in the stocking-stuffer price range? A bunch of the women we spoke to mentioned they’d be thrilled to receive a great flash drive this year. Wright is specifically eying the SanDisk – Cruzer 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive ($29.99), calling it “a useful, extremely practical gift.” Founders Marketing CEO Kristi E. DePaul wants an Omars lightning stick ($33.99) “for external phone storage/file transfer anywhere and everywhere.”

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7. STEM inspired games for kids

Got a technical woman on your gift giving list who is also a mom? Then Codeship product manager Kelly Bowker has a suggestion: how about a Bloxels kit to introduce their little one to video game design? (This might also be a good present for anyone who is still a kid at heart). And as Hackbright VP Angie Chang points out there’s also “Goldieblox, Roominate and Hopscotch – all women-led startups helping the next gen of girls become future coders.”

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8. Empowerment in book form

Want to encourage the technical woman you’re buying for and provide her with some additional skills to take on the world? Then there’s no shortage of great books specifically pitched at empowering female tech leaders, such as Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories edited by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack. The book mixes practical advice and inspiration from many leading women in tech. Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture by Elissa Shevinsky is another good option.

Chang also points to Go Against the Flow by Charu Sharma, calling it “really useful content for aspiring entrepreneurs.” Amazon describes the book this way:  “An innovative and ground-breaking new book” that “brings together wisdom from several established and up and coming women business leaders in sharing their candid and introspective insights on how to become a successful entrepreneur.”

What gift are you dreaming of receiving this holiday season? Let us know!


Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.