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2014 Year in Review: Why These HackerYou Grads Think Coding is For You

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2014 Year in Review: Why These HackerYou Grads Think Coding is For You

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This year, during our four full-time bootcamps we invited a number of our pals and colleagues, folks we met at conferences, and generally awesome people who are at the forefront of their respective industries to come in and chat with our students. They took time off work to come and hang out with us, and shared their thoughts and ideas on topics from UX design to prepping for a dev interview. We looked at accessibility, trends in design, new workflow tools and how to succeed at building a business. As we wind down the year and prepare for 2015 I chatted with these terrific folks and asked them a bit about why they love our industry, their thoughts on why everybody should learn to code and what advice they had for someone interested in diving in. Zoe Daniels, herself a HackerYou grad and now at Juice Mobile, had the most succinct and perhaps most honest response with “well, one, because it's the future, and two because it's FUN,” speaking to an idea that completely underlines our philosophy of learning. Shawn Allison from ShopLocket said “to help demystify what goes into creating software and technology. Once you see and understand how things are made, it makes it that much easier for you to do it yourself.” Approaching learning to code as a necessary skill but also a tool set for the future, Jay Goldman, Aaron Morris and Darcy Clarke talked about problem solving, critical thinking and adapting to current trends and employment needs (and unicorns!). Darcy’s thoughts were: “learning to program is essential to being effective in the workplace now and into the future. Programming languages are this generation's paintbrushes.” Reinforcing this idea, Aaron from Jam3 shared “the industry is always changing so you have to constantly learn new things. Learning how to code teaches people how to solve problems and think analytically.” While Jay over at Klick Health seems to live in a practical but wonderfully whimsical world: “Code is magic. And the future. And unicorns (and possibly rainbows). Learning to code is learning to build. It changes the way you approach problems. It empowers you to take control of the 'what's next'.” As all of these folks have such a depth of knowledge, I asked them what their best suggestions were for new developers just starting out in the industry. David Wolever, who got our students excited about start-ups and helped them prepare for technical interviews, suggested a straightforward idea: to “write lots of code. And when that gets boring learn a new kind of code and write lots of that.” Tiffany Conroy, a Toronto export now in Berlin at Soundcloud, suggested surrounding yourself in a space where you can keep learning, something we definitely agree with. “Try to work in an environment where you can ask questions and learn from others. When you are learning, you don’t even have the full vocabulary to search for your answers, so having other developers around to ask will accelerate your learning.” Billy Gregory, our accessibility guru, reminds us to not forget that we’re creating technology for people. “Always remember that you are building something for PEOPLE to use and you don't always have control over how they are using it. As an accessibility guy I always tell new devs to pay close attention to two things: interactions/focus management and semantic code.” We think that everybody who came in to talk and share with our students does exciting work, and wanted to give them a chance to share and highlight any exciting projects that they are working on. Billy and his pal Karl have created a fun web series on accessibility called “The Viking and the Lumberjack" that you can check out here. Wes has written a book on Sublime Text, if you want to level up your text editor skills you should definitely give it a read. Shawn and his team at ShopLocket have been working on theblueprint.com where they are sharing amazing new technologies. Zoe has a fun project brewing that isn’t quite ready to share but has us intrigued. “I'm working on an alternate universe web series, it's gonna be like Tilda Swinton's closet puked on a pile of cultural theory textbooks. But funny.” We’ll be sure to tweet that out when her site is live! Jay over at Klick Health really nailed it with his enthusiasm by saying, “Yes! We're reinventing the technology of human achievement. It's a big task but we're super excited by it.” Lots of other folks had some great stuff in the works that they weren’t able to share just yet, so keep your eyes on them and no doubt they’ll share when they can. Not everybody who came in to chat with us throughout the year was able to catch up over the last few weeks, but we wouldn't have learned as much or had as much fun doing it without all of them. Thank you to everybody who took time out of their busy schedules to come and help champion our students to great success. We appreciate and celebrate you! Meet all of our guest speakers and see their full responses below: Tiffany Conroy @theophani Product Designer and Frontend Developer, SoundCloud Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? Knowing how to program is a tool, like math or deductive reasoning, that can help you solve problems in many contexts. What is your best advice for a new developer? Try to work in an environment where you can ask questions and learn from others. When you are learning, you don’t even have the full vocabulary to search for your answers, so having other developers around to ask will accelerate your learning. David Wolever @wolever CTO, Akindi What is your best advice for a new developer? Write lots of code. And when that gets boring learn a new kind of code and write lots of that. Zoe Daniels @zoecodes Frontend developer, Juice Mobile Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? Well, one, because it's the future, and two because it's FUN. What is your best advice for a new developer? YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH TO DO THIS. I PROMISE. Wes Bos @wesbos Instructor / Author / Web Developer Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? It's a great time to get into the web development - it touches on almost every industry out there. What is your best advice for a new developer? Coding is both really hard and fun at the same time. Push through the hard parts and you will succeed! Shawn Allison @shawn_allison Front end developer, The Blueprint / ShopLocket Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? To help demystify what goes into creating software and techology. Once you see and understand how things are made, it makes it that much easier for you to do it yourself. What is your best advice for a new developer? Learning is ongoing. Try to keep up-to-date on what new trends and techniques are being discussed and written about in the community. Don't assume that way you did something 6-12 months ago is still the most efficient. Other developers are always find and sharing new advancements. Darcy Clarke @darcy Web Designer, Developer, Entrepreneur & Speaker Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? Learning to program is essential to being effective in the workplace now and in to the future. Programming languages are this generation's paintbrushes. Honing skills and learning to utilize technology empowers you and your projects to reach new, larger audiences. What is your best advice for a new developer? Find an aspect of programming or design that you are passionate about. Focus on that and let it be what drives you forward when times get tough. If you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. Jay Goldman @jaygoldman Managing Director, Sensei Labs Klick Health Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? Code is magic. And the future. And unicorns (and possibly rainbows). Learning to code is learning to build. It changes the way you approach problems. It empowers you to take control of the 'what's next'. I would argue that it teaches you more creativity, logic, math, science, and art than most high school curriculums. What is your best advice for a new developer? Experiment! Take things apart and put them back together. Read a lot of code — don't just copy and paste. Understand why things work under the hood. There's lots of great languages/platforms/IDEs/etc. that really let you play and try new things. There's no learning like learning by doing. Aaron Morris @morrisai Technical Director, Jam3 Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? The industry is always changing so you have to constantly learn new things.Learning how to code teaches people how to solve problems and think analytically. What is your best advice for a new developer? Ask lots of questions. Billy Gregory @thebillygregory Senior Accessibility Engineer, The Paciello Group Why do you think it is important to learn how to code and/or become more familiar with new technology? Loaded question! ;) I don't know if everyone needs to learn how to code, but those who pursue it as a career definitely need to learn how to do it properly. Semantics and standards exist for a reason and the role they play in creating a usable and accessible web cannot be overstated. What is your best advice for a new developer? Always remember that you are building something for PEOPLE to use and you don't always have control over how they are using it. As an accessibility guy I always tell new devs to pay close attention to two things: interactions/focus management and semantic code. Use the right code for the job and pay attention to the experience you are creating for the user and most of the time you'll create something that's usable to a greater number of people. We also had these terrific people come in and chat with our students and they are doing awesome things too so make sure to check them out. **Rob Hyndman **@rhh Hyndman Law Hampton Caitlin @hcatlin Creator, Sass **Dre LeBrae **@drelabre ReThink, Creative Director **Yura Zenevich **@yura_zen Mozilla, Accessibility Engineer David Vesico @Waterfordtax President, Waterford Tax Advisory