How to Learn (Entry-Level) Coding

The facts are these: Tech know-how is now a coveted skill in the job market.

Social media has transformed the way that companies operate, from marketing to product design, and the increased prevalence of technology in day-to-day life—in other words, everyone has a website—means that for businesses, expertise in cyberculture is vital for success. This advent of the digital age means that a basic grasp of things like HTML and CSS can make a résumé stand up a little straighter under scrutiny.

Yet coding itself can seem like the first day in a Greek language learning class. Many people would hesitate to even define coding, as the name itself rings of techno-babble that is beyond common comprehension. Don't be deterred, though. Put simply, coding means using programming language, the “words” telling a computer to carry out a command, to build websites or apps. It’s a series of translations that culminate in the creation of something. Programming is digital Lego’s—a vast oversimplification, but a helpful visual.

Serious programming takes years to master, and not all of us can or want to end up working at the Google headquarters. But conquering common coding languages can give you an edge in what is often a tight race for jobs, particularly in the communications or marketing fields. Luckily the internet itself is the answer to this, as there are a number of places to pick up some programming knowledge.


Codecademy is a pioneer in free online coding classes. Co-founders Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski started Codecademy as a business initiative for individuals interested in learning programming languages, and individuals certainly were interested—the company now has millions of users. Classes in common languages—HTML, Javascript, Python, among others—are available and taught in a series of call-and-response style lessons, where the budding coder receives instructions on the left half of the screen and then carries them out on the right half. It’s straightforward and easy to understand, and will soon have you talking nesting tags with confidence.

For a basic membership, priced at $25/month, offers thousands of tutorials on topics ranging from software to business skills. Although not free, the range of courses boasts makes it a valuable resource for people wishing to expand their technological skill set.

General Assembly

General Assembly is unique on this list because it offers both offline and online education—full-time and part-time courses, lasting from eight to twelve weeks, are held in Washington, D.C. Online programming and business classes are offered in live stream and on-demand formats for a $25/month charge; a 14-day free trial is also available to allow users to get their feet wet before committing.


Coursera is a well-known name in the campaign for free online education and offers an abundance of resources in both computer science and other areas. Users must wait for the start date of an upcoming session to begin the course, but classes are free and many come with a Verified Certificate option—a $50 fee gets you a certificate of achievement URL that can be shared on your résumé or LinkedIn account. A number of elite institutions, like Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University, contribute sessions to Coursera.

Whether you want to start your own website or beef up your credentials, learning some basic coding certainly can’t hurt and can often turn out to be a fun enterprise in addition to being useful. Try it for yourself and don’t hesitate to throw out some coding lingo like stylesheets and semantic formatting the next time you’re at the dinner table. You’ll likely get some raised eyebrows and possibly get some impressed relatives, and you’ve earned them.







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