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Why I Learned to Code and How You Can in 3 Months

The Grind

Editor's Note: The Grind is a weekly column that asks a revolving cast of young founders to take us through the daily rigors of running a business, as well as offer up advice on how they achieved milestones or overcame challenges. Follow The Grind on Twitter with the hashtag #ENTGrind.

Why I Learned to Code and How You Can in 3 Months
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In October, I challenged myself to learn a skill many people believe all founders should have: coding. It wasn't easy but worth it.

I slept an average of five hours a night, had enough energy drinks to last me a lifetime and never felt more confused or exhausted in my life. Thus, this was the life of a beginner coder, a venture that took up most of my day.

Being a co-founder of the alumni-engagement platform Alumnify, you might think learning to program would take too much time away from my startup. You are right. However, the benefits I received by knowing the technical aspect of my product far outweighed the cons.

Still not convinced? Below are the biggest differences I've seen in my startup since I've started coding and tips on how you can also become a programmer in less than three months.

Related: Teaching Kids to Code With Youth Digital

1. Saves time and money. How much would it cost to change this? This was a common phrase when I first started Alumnify. Working with a contractor for your product causes headaches, capital and time. Being able to make adjustments to your website or mobile app yourself not only helps you conserve precious resources, but also lets you have a better understanding of your product.

2. Changes your approach to problems. Steve Jobs once said, "Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

People often say learning to program is similar to learning a new language, but in my opinion, it is more similar to solving a puzzle. You have to breakdown your project in a bunch of small steps, then combine them to create something new. The skills you gain by being able to program aren't limited to computers, you'll be able to think through problems with your startup using the same strategy.

3. Easier to raise capital. While being able to appeal to investors should not be the main reason to begin coding, capital is a lifeblood of your startup.

Investors will often take your startup more seriously if a co-founder knows how to code. Don't believe me? Look up any startup accelerator, and you'll almost always find a question asking if a co-founder knows how to program.

So now that I have provided a few reasons why you should learn to code, you may wonder how you should go about doing it. You don't want to spend the next four years getting a computer science degree, while simultaneously incurring a lot of debt, do you? No problem.

Here's how I was able to build an interactive websites in one month and will become a junior developer in a few more weeks -- all while running my startup.

Related: How to Become a Technical Co-Founder on the Quick

Codecademy. This online resource is the perfect place to start. Codecademy teaches you the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and Javascript, among other languages for free.

The lessons are fun and interactive. When you begin diving more into development you'll notice how much using Codecademy paid off. 

Coding bootcamps. While Codecademy is a great platform for starting out, you may need to get involved in more intensive programs to take your coding to the next level.

I am currently a student in the Coding Dojo bootcamp in Silicon Valley. In nine weeks, it takes complete beginners and turns them into junior developers. You'll spend between 10 to 12 hours a day, five to six days a week programming. During this time, your social life and startup will have to take the back seat. 

While I lucked out in having a supportive rock-star co-founder, make sure you are willing and able to take the time needed if you go this route.

What has been your experience learning to code? Let us know in the comments below.
 
 

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

AJ Agrawal is the CEO and co-founder of Alumnify. an alumni-engagement platform.

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