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, I'm driven by 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!
Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned on this page. If you buy a product through one of these links, I may get a small commission for recommending it to you. Thanks for supporting LTCWM!
Table of Contents
Landing My Dream Job…Or So I Thought
About five years ago, I thought I had “made it.”
Throughout college, I had 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
In college and then in Thailand, 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.
Start coding now
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Gaining Technical Skills Makes Sense–For Your Career and Finances!
I just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration along the way. A year ago I was a high school teacher and I just got hired as a full time software engineer!
Thanks for everything you do, I couldn’t have done it without the support that your community provided.
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 2018, software developer is the hottest position of the year.
And on Glassdoor's list of 50 Best Tech Jobs in America in 2018, data scientist takes the #1 spot, boasting high salaries and high job satisfaction.
Data is also the category when it comes to the the most in-demand tech jobs for 2018: if you're a business intelligence analyst, you'll have no problem finding work this year!
This level of demand isn't just temporary, either. Looking ahead, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations are projected to grow by 8.9% from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4% growth for non-STEM occupations.
Software engineering in particular is expected to increase by more than 24% by 2026. That's light-years ahead of the average!
What's more, you don’t always need a college degree for these jobs! Roughly 1/3 of STEM workers have not completed a bachelor’s or higher-level 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.
Once you gain experience, you can specialize in in exciting fields like cryptocurrency/blockchain, AI/machine learning, and virtual/augmented reality, which are all expected to grow. For example, the VR/AR device market will grow fivefold in four years (from 22 million units sold in 2018 to 121 million by 2022)
So, beyond giving me in-the-moment enjoyment as I played with building websites, it made perfect sense, both career-wise and financially, 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 How to Code?
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 you should be learning–which programming languages to learn, how to build a website, what online coding courses are worth your time, how to break into a new career, and so on.
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.
There are loads of places to learn programming online, but these are a few of my favorite platforms offering online coding courses:
- Coursera – Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platform that aggregates online courses from top universities. The coding courses are high-quality and you can earn certificates if you choose.
- One Month – Coding courses on lots of languages and skills. The idea is to help you learn in a month, but they're self-paced, so you can work it around your schedule.
- Team Treehouse – Courses with interactive code challenges for hands-on learning. With their new program TalentPath, they go the extra mile by partnering with tech companies to help diverse students get hired.
- Devslopes – Focuses on teaching students how to build mobile and web apps. They also recently introduced blockchain development courses!
- LaunchSchool – Their focus on “mastery-based learning” emphasizes a slow, steady, and deep learning of fundamentals. You move onto new topics once you fully grasp the current one.
- Udemy – they have courses on almost everything, which often go on sale for under $20! This is a good platform for dipping into a new coding language or topic to see if you like it.
This list is just a brief sample, of course! You can check out more resources and tools here.
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.
I want to let you know that I finally found a job as a full fledged software engineer! It’s been a long and stressful journey, but I couldn’t have done without the support of the tech community and people like you who are so generous with their time and knowledge, so THANK YOU!” – Melissa
A few years after starting the blog, I decided to add a podcast. Through hosting the Learn to Code With Me Podcast, I got to chat with so many amazing and inspiring people in tech. Listen to all four seasons here!
Today, I also work at an EdTech startup, where I work on products that make it simple for people to share their knowledge through online courses.
Anyway, 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.
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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.
I started listening to your podcast and reading your blog and newsletter about a year ago. Now I'm in a coding bootcamp! Thanks for helping me along the way.” – AT
Gaining these in-demand technical 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?
If you’re completely new to coding, check out these posts:
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide for Those Who Want to Pursue Web Development or Design
- Recommended Resources and Tools for Beginners
- 49 of The Best Places to Learn to Code for Free
- Coding Education Resource Center
If you’ve started learning to code, check out these posts:
- 8 Top Tech Skills in Demand in 2018
- 5 Ways To Stay On Track As You Learn To Code In 2018
- 15 Udemy Courses to Level up Your Web Dev Skills
- How I Made $5K My First Year Learning to Code (And How You Can, Too!)
If you’re ready to start getting paid to code, check out these posts:
- Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Front End Developer?
- 9 Helpful Sites For Finding Your Next Job In Tech
- Free Portfolio Course
- Freelance Starter Guide
I cannot wait to see how coding improves your life and helps you achieve your dreams. :)