An Introduction to Coding


What is it? Why is it important? How do I get good at it?

These were all questions I had before starting university. It never hurts to get a head start in something and coding is no exception. As the well-known saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’, and the sooner you start the better. Taking time now to learn a new skill, such as coding, will provide you with fantastic experience to include in a UCAS or job application and sets you up well for starting a career in engineering.

So, what is coding? You can think of it as the background work that makes creating websites, apps and computer software possible. Without it you wouldn't be able to view this blog or use your favourite social media channels such as Instagram or Snapchat. That’s what makes it so important, and is why it has become a key skill when working with technology.

You may have had the opportunity to learn to code at school, but if you haven't, or if want to take it further, then what can you do? A quick google will inundate you with websites that claim to help you learn to code, and so choosing one can seem a bit daunting. I think one of the best places to start is on the Code First: Girls website.

Code First: Girls is a social enterprise helping to increase the number of women working in tech, and whilst you have to be at least 18 to attend one of their free community courses, they have a fantastic page here dedicated to useful resources for teaching yourself. Don't be put off by the name, the tools that this website collates are great for everyone.

Code First: Girls was also how I first discovered iDEA, the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which aims to recognise the development of digital, enterprise and employability skills for free. Although this isn't specifically for coding it is a fantastic introduction to technology and the awards you earn are perfect for any application.

My other go to for learning to code, Learn Python, can be found here. There are a whole range of coding languages to choose from and each one comes with short exercises that can be carried out in your browser. This is a fantastic free resource with clear explanations and provides the perfect opportunity to develop your skills.

I hadn't done any coding before starting university and had a very limited understanding of what it was or what it entailed, but over the past five years there are three things that have stood out to me when learning this new skill:

1. Keep it simple

You want your code as easy to understand and de-bug as possible.

2. Comment your code well

When working on a code regularly you will likely know exactly how it works, but concise and informative comments are important for other people wanting to understand it, or if you come back to it later.

3. Practice, practice, practice

The more you code, the easier it becomes as you remember language specific quirks and short-cuts. You also then build a bank of other codes to draw from when starting a new project.

So, what's the next step? That's the easy part - give it a go! Delve into the resources I have suggested and enjoy learning a new skill. Also don’t forget to leave a comment with any other resources you have found helpful when learning to code.

Featured Images: This is Engineering


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