If you are feeling some job instability right now, Omicron has seen to it that you are not alone. Just ask the people in retail who were going gangbusters in 2019, unemployed in 2020, almost back to full force in mid 2021, and back to being unemployed in 2022.
That is no way to live. If that happens to be you, the cruise industry has a message for you: “Cry me a river!” You will run into a lot of people from a lot of industries in the local bookstore fighting over the last copy of Programming for Dummies.
But as you have probably guessed by now, computer programming is hard work, really hard. It is made to look deceptively simple because 9 year olds have successful apps on the most successful app store in the world. If little kids can do it, how hard could it be? Did I mention that it is very hard? There are easier ways to use technology to pivot careers.
There is no shame in finding an easier way to make a living. Just remember that the easy way is not usually the most rewarding way. If you are trying to replace a real income, then you are going to need a real job. Becoming a developer is a good way to go. Start with the following.
Increase Your Math Education
Programming is applied mathematics. Then again, so is rocket science. Almost every technical field is some form of applied mathematics. So if you only got far enough in math to balance a checkbook, you are going to need to take a few courses. Whether those courses be from the prestigious Georgia State University or your local community college, you can find ways to help you study and learn challenging concepts that you are going to need in your new career.
You have to remember that a computer is a device that computes. It calculates. It processes numbers. The math is hidden. But it is there in everything you do on a computer. A simple smartphone app processes tens of thousands of calculations per second. The CPU is capable of performing calculations per second into the trillions.
These days, a photograph is more calculus than light. While kids coding apps might not be up on their tensor calculus, they are stronger in STEM than the average person. Start with some remedial STEM courses and that will train your mind how to think like a programmer.
Start Small and Fun
There are lots of entry points to full software development. One of those points of entry is scripting. If Apple Script is too much, try learning to use Automator. If that is too much, try Shortcuts for iOS and Mac. If you have an iPad, download Playgrounds. You can use Playgrounds for iPad to go from idea to App Store.
By starting small, you will not get overwhelmed. And by keeping things fun, you will remain motivated. One of the worst things you can do is start your journey as a developer in a state of fear and desperation. Nothing good will come of that. It will quickly lead to disillusionment and burnout. This is true for all hard things. To the extent possible, start slow and small. And always keep it light and fun.
Develop What You Need or Love
Regardless of how small and fun you try to keep it, at some point, things are going to get real and hard, and real hard. When that moment comes in your programing journey, you will need a reason to keep going. That reason has to be greater than the fact that you need the money. You will keep going because you are working on an application you personally need, or a project that you passionately love.
The top execs at big tech companies are millionaires about a million times over. They don’t do it for the money. They do it for the passion. At the end of the day, you will be a great developer and make as much money as you want because you bring the passion.
If you want to be a developer, you have picked a great destination, the journey to get there goes through refreshing your math skills, starting out small and fun, and bringing the passion.