Coding does lure many. It is relatively new, still hip and seems to be a great place to find yourself as a professional. While excellent knowledge of programming languages might have been awe-inspiring 30 years ago, it’s clearly not enough today.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Coding Depth Matters: Mastery in computational thinking outweighs knowing multiple languages.
  • Skills Over Syntax: True coding proficiency focuses on logic, problem-solving, and core computer science concepts.
  • 2023 Developer Essentials: Key skills include Data Science, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Project Management, and Problem-Solving.

How and where do I learn how to code? What should I know to become a coder? Should I go to college or learn online? What is enough in programming? These and many other questions young and mature learners ask themselves before going on a venture of coding. Today we are going to focus on the last one – the most mind-blowing of all.

Professionals and amateurs in programming opened the gate to the online Reddit community to discuss what it means to feel fulfilled in the role of a coder/programmer.

Deeper thinking for coding

Mastering coding is just the beginning in today’s tech-driven landscape. As highlighted by the 2020 Science report from 2005, science has experienced a shift – moving from merely using computing to support its endeavors, to embedding Computer Science (CS) concepts and tools into its core. This integration of CS into diverse fields is evident from the use of data science in political campaigns, like Obama’s 2012 victory, to its transformative impact on movie-making. However, despite these groundbreaking changes, a significant portion of the younger generation remains oblivious to the computational influences pervading multiple domains of human activity.

Many proponents of coding emphasize its potential to cultivate computational thinking skills, which are deemed essential in the digital era. As Jeannette Wing elucidated in her influential article, “Computational Thinking,” this form of thinking goes beyond mere coding.

It’s about “thinking like a computer scientist,” logically and algorithmically. It necessitates understanding the flow of control in a solution, as well as the ability to deconstruct a problem systematically and then construct an algorithmic resolution.

With the advent of block-based programming tools like Scratch and Alice, coding has become more accessible to children. These tools, built on the “low floor, high ceiling” philosophy, allow even novices to develop working programs quickly. However, the fundamental question arises: How deeply are these young minds engaging in computational thinking? Wing emphasized that computational thinking is about conceptualizing and is centered more on the ideas than the resulting artifacts. It’s about the thought processes utilized in crafting solutions, not just the final products.

The same applies to adult coding learners. Engagement and understanding how everything works is a must. A few fellow Reddit users pointed this issue by saying:

 The biggest problem is that people learn programming languages instead of programming. Then, they cry because they can’t program and consequently can’t get a job. People have to realize that not the amount of programming languages known make a good programmer. It’s what a programmer can create with the language(s) they know that makes a good programmer. It’s creating step by step algorithmic solutions to problems that makes a good programmer.

Exactly. Which is why my current employer hires developers who may not even be familiar with the current stack, including myself, as one can learn the language fairly quickly general programming principles are understood.

Learning a language isn’t going to teach you to code. Just like learning English isn’t going to teach you to write novels or write jokes. Languages are tools, and in your career you will learn MANY of them, but, give me ANY language, the syntax, some examples, and I can write anything — this is because I THINK in code now. To get to this place, you need to code, practice, and write programs that push you to your limits, you do it enough, and your brain starts to “get it”, and then you don’t think in terms of specific syntax of a language, you think abstractly, I need a loop here, how do I do this in the language I am using today.

Jane Margolis, in a recent CS educators conference, emphasizes that computing encompasses more than just coding. True innovation arises from a profound understanding of computing across various disciplines, not just CS.

The depth of coding experiences determines the quality of thinking and problem-solving skills acquired.

Top 5 software developer skills for 2023

In 2023, software developers need a mix of skills to stay ahead. Here are the top five skills they should focus on:

Data Science and Machine LearningAI and machine learning are growing fast. Many companies want to use them in their products. About 27% of IT bosses are spending on data skills, and 30% are spending on AI skills. These skills help in many areas, from new tech like ChatGPT to things we use daily, like social media. If you’re wondering how to start, learn Python. It’s a basic language used in many high-level machine learning tasks.
Cloud ComputingMore businesses are using the cloud to store and manage data. About 41% of IT bosses are putting money into cloud skills. Popular cloud platforms are Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you want to learn about the cloud, it’s a good idea to get certified in one of these platforms. The cloud is not just one thing; it’s a big system where we build, keep, and give out apps. So, it’s important to know the platform your company uses well.
CybersecurityKeeping data safe online is very important. About 31% of IT leaders are spending on cybersecurity skills. Even if you’re a developer, you need to know how to make safe software. Some top security certificates can also help you earn more money. These are CRISC, CISM, CISSP, and AWS Security. If you want to get better at this, you can learn about cloud security, how to keep data safe, and how to include safety in your software.
Project ManagementWhen making software, there’s a set way of doing things. This could be Scrum, Agile, or DevOps. Knowing these methods helps you work better. Different companies use different methods, so know the one your company uses. You can also learn general project management to use in any method. Having a PMP certificate can also help you earn more.
Problem-SolvingMaking software is all about fixing issues. Developers make apps to help users. But, sometimes there are mistakes in the software. So, a developer needs to know how to find and fix these mistakes. This means they need to think out of the box, take feedback, and check their work to fix problems.

In short, to be a top software developer in 2023, focus on learning about data, the cloud, safety, project methods, and problem-solving.


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