'If you can follow a knitting pattern, you can code' | KUOW News and Information

'If you can follow a knitting pattern, you can code'

Oct 26, 2017

Thinking of making a career switch? Maybe you should consider coding.

No, really — it’s not as hard as you probably think. That’s according to Cheri Allen, a software engineer and educator at the University of Washington and Unloop.

“If you can follow a knitting pattern to make a sweater or a complicated hat, you have a pretty good idea of how to execute a bunch of small steps to end up with a bigger project,” Allen said. “And that’s what a lot of software is.”

Allen and Redfin software developer Lissa Walzer talked with Bill Radke about careers in coding.

Walzer, formerly a biologist, said many people come to coding from other careers. At the coding boot camp she attended, the stand-out student worked in theater.

And she said coding jobs are everywhere — not just at Amazon and Microsoft.

“I think technology touches our lives in so many different ways that it’s just in places you don’t even think about,” Walzer said. “For example a lot of refrigerators have screens on them these days. Somebody programmed that.”

Allen said there’s an adjustment period when you’re learning to code. She said most of her students take about a year to become proficient, starting with learning the basics through free resources online.

“Later learners often come into it a little intimidated,” Allen said. “I’ve also taught younger people who didn't already spend ten years in marketing, and they are not as nervous about it.”

But it’s mostly a matter of mindset, Allen said.

“Late learners have heard that coding is hard, that software is hard, and they’re not sure they’re smart enough. When you’re 35 and you’ve been good at something for five years already, starting over and being really bad at something is really hard on your ego.”

Produced for the web by Amy Rolph.