Hey there! I’m Laurence Bradford, the creator of Learn to Code With Me. I am completely self-taught, with a lot left to learn–and in teaching myself tech skills, I uncovered a passion for teaching others. Today, in both my full-time job and running this site, what drives me is the goal of making education affordable and accessible to all.
Since I began gaining valuable digital skills, I’ve been able to make more money, pursue passions that I care about, and, ultimately, enjoy freedom and flexibility.
But this wasn’t always the case.
Let us get one thing out of the way: I am a girl (despite my masculine looking name). Laurence is a French name. (Here's how they say it in France.) But you can pronounce it like Luh-ronze. (Don't worry; everyone mispronounces it. Apparently, my parents REALLY wanted to give me a tough time growing up ;) ) Now that we cleared that up…let’s move along!
Landing My Dream Job…Or So I Thought
A few years ago, I thought I had “made it”.
I had always been a huge lover of East Asia and economics. So when I landed a job at a Thai think tank, working in their economic development department, I thought it was the perfect entryway to the rest of my life.
However, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Even though I loved Thailand and the city I was living in (Bangkok), I still felt empty. I didn't wake up every day excited to go to work.
Truthfully, I wondered what was wrong with me. I’d achieved my dream – so why did I still feel so unfulfilled?
My First Time Coding Online
I kept hearing about the demand for tech workers in the US (specifically programmers, engineers, and developers).
So, while bored at my Bangkok desk job, I began exploring free websites that taught people how to code. I wanted to see what it was all about.
Almost instantly, I felt this draw like never before. I was being pulled towards learning more, not pushed like I often felt. (You know, like the difference between forcing yourself to finish that assignment, hating it the whole time, and working voluntarily on a project or hobby that you love.)
Needless to say, I didn’t last long at that job in Thailand.
I soon returned back to the US, on a mission to pursue this exciting, yet mysterious, field.
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Gaining Digital Skills Makes Sense: Career-Wise And Financially
It’s no secret that the tech industry is booming. Nowadays, every company needs a website, a designer, IT people, engineers…and the list goes on.
According to US News in “The 25 Best Jobs of 2016”, web developers, software developers, and systems analysts were some of the hottest positions this year.
Looking ahead to 2020, basically all careers within the programming space are expected to grow in demand.
While these are more traditional CS and IT roles, you’re certainly not limited to these job options. According to the Brookings Institute, about 20% of all US jobs are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. And half of those are open to workers without a four-year college degree.
Plus, not only are there more job opportunities – there is more earning potential.
According to Experis, web design and computer programming are two of the best entry-level fields with the highest salary opportunities.
So, beyond giving me in-the-moment enjoyment as I played with building websites, it made perfect sense financially and career-wise to gain some of these in-demand tech skills.
But how? Let’s be real: dabbling on Codecademy or taking a class on Team Treehouse is a great way to dip your toes in the water, but it will only get you so far.
Where Do I “Really” Start Learning?
I quickly realized that teaching yourself how to code is not so simple.
Sure, there are tons of online classes, books, and resources. But that doesn’t help much when you have no idea what it is that you should be learning.
Not only that, but it can also be difficult finding the time to practice. We all have responsibilities. It isn’t always easy to dedicate hours a day to learning something new.
Following my Internal “Call”
Although I knew it might not be easy, I had this calling from within that I couldn’t ignore. So I kept at it.
And I was right – it was tough. I learned through a lot of trial and error. I started with Python, only to realize months later, dying to start building web applications on my own, that Ruby on Rails was a better fit.
Then, a few months after that, I discovered that all along I was really keen on front-end development – not so much full stack – and I changed directions yet again.
And then, after taking so many online courses and starting Learn to Code With Me, it finally clicked that something inspired me much more than writing code and building websites myself: empowering others to learn tech skills to improve their lives.
Today, I work at an EdTech startup, where I work on products that make it simple for people to share their knowledge through online courses.
The point is, I certainly didn’t have a straight path to my destination, and chances are, you won’t either. Learning to code may just change your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined.
Why I Created Learn to Code With Me
Ultimately, I started Learn to Code With Me to help other beginners start out strong, because I’ve been in your shoes.
I’ll show you what to learn and how to use those skills to make your life better, like they’ve done for mine.
Despite my winding path, I can say without a doubt that gaining digital skills has improved my life.
Like you, I am a multi-passionate person. I love to write, travel, and more. Acquiring digital skills has allowed me to be flexible and has unlocked doors for better opportunities pursuing the things I love.
I am positive that it can do the same for you.
Gaining these in-demand skills will give you flexibility, opportunity, and freedom – whether your idea of “freedom” involves traveling, spending time with family, cooking, volunteering with others, or even loving your job so much that every workday feels like a vacation.
Moreover, when you combine newfound tech skills with your inherent creativity and other natural gifts, the sky is the limit.
So what are you waiting for?
I cannot wait to see how coding improves your life and helps you achieve your dreams. :)