This post was inspired by a link one of the guys in my company put up on twitter, cheers Ciaran. The article, by Katie Siegel, argues that instead of seeing people who found a love for programming later than early teens as having missed the boat or too late to make an impact we should recognise their passion and encourage them to develop and innovate.
I whole heartedly agree with Katie Siegel’s view that just because someone comes to programming later, say 17/18 when starting university, that doesn’t stop them becoming great developers or having the drive and ideas to create a startup. I’ve known people find it in their 30’s and become fantastic developers.
Perhaps I’m biased having started programming properly at 18. If organisations had recruited during placement year purely on programming knowledge or external coding projects I would never have gotten a placement. I didn’t even know what Object Orientated programming was having only completed one programming module at uni. I was lucky and had several options at placement because the organisations saw ability and passion in me. In the end I went for BT and had an amazing placement year which allowed me to vastly improve my programming skills and get a feel for what life as a programmer was like. I didn’t want to go back to uni I enjoyed it so much.
I think it is great that there is such a focus on improving the curriculum and giving kids exposure to coding at an earlier age but those who haven’t had that opportunity should not be put off entering it.
Katie’s words of advice sum it up.
“Yes, you started behind, but that does not undermine your future ability to succeed in the field or to start a company.”
To anyone in that situation don’t be put off or feel like you’ll never catch up. Try not to get caught up in where others are at and instead focus on gaining as much knowledge and experience in the areas that interest you as you can. You’ll find that once you give yourself that freedom by removing judgement and comparisons there’ll be no stopping you.