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, 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
- Before Learn to Code With Me: Finding My Dream Job
- My First Time Learning to Code Online
- Why Gaining Technical Skills Makes Sense
- Where Do I Really Start Learning How to Code?
- Following My Internal “Call” & Launching Learn to Code With Me
- Why I Created Learn to Code With Me
- Recommended Resources for Learning to Code or Launching a Tech Career
Before Learn to Code With Me: Finding My Dream Job
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 Learning to Code 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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Why Gaining Technical Skills Makes Sense
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 2020, software development is the hottest position of the year.
And on Glassdoor’s list of 50 Best Tech Jobs in America in 2020, front end engineer takes the #1 spot, boasting high salaries and high job satisfaction.
Data and AI are also the top categories when it comes to the most in-demand tech jobs for 2020: if you’re an AI architect or 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 13% from 2017 to 2027, compared to 9% for non-STEM jobs.
Software engineering in particular is expected to increase by more than 21% by 2028. 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 exciting fields like cryptocurrency/blockchain, AI/machine learning, and virtual/augmented reality, which are all expected to grow. (For example, the global VR/AR market will grow exponentially in the next few years, from a revenue of $22 billion in 2020 to $161 billion by 2025.)
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.
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 – Offers a multitude of online courses taught by actual college professors, all for free. You can also get a certificate or a degree for a great price, completely at your own pace, and all online.
- Launch School – 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.
- Team Treehouse – Carries videos of everything from HTML to Ruby on Rails and PHP. They have periodic quizzes as well as code challenges throughout the lessons to help keep you on your toes!
- LinkedIn Learning – Whatever you want to learn, LinkedIn Learning has courses for every step of your career, taught by instructors with real-world experience.
- Code With Mosh – Mosh Hamedani teaches clear, concise courses that help you learn both theory and practice. His most popular courses include React, Java, and Python.
- Mammoth Interactive – Whether you want a compact course that you complete in a few hours or you’re looking for more in-depth knowledge, Mammoth has a growing collection of courses to help boost your skills and your career.
- 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.
- edX – Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of subjects, tech or otherwise. A lot of their courses are free, which is perfect if you want to learn new skills without spending a lot of money to do so.
- Pluralsight – Their products and courses, ranging from software development to cybersecurity, give you both the skills and the data you need to succeed in tech.
This list is just a brief sample, of course! Check out this list of places you can learn to code for free.
Following My Internal “Call” & Launching Learn to Code With Me
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!”
A few years after starting the blog, I decided to add a podcast. Through hosting the Learn to Code With Me Podcast, I get to chat with so many amazing and inspiring people in tech. Listen to all seven seasons here!
From 2016 to 2018, I also worked full-time on the product team at an EdTech startup, where I worked on products that make it simple for people to share their knowledge through online courses.
And in 2018, the most exciting thing happened: I managed to quit my full-time job to focus on Learn to Code With Me full time! It was hard to take the leap, but it was ultimately the best decision I could have made.
Want to keep up with everything I’m doing?! (It sure feels like the list is long sometimes.) Follow me on Instagram (@laurencebradford)! I’m also on Twitter (@learntocodewithme) and Facebook (Learn to Code With Me), but Instagram is where I spend most of my time.
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.
Start coding now
Stop waiting and start learning! Get my 10 tips on teaching yourself how to code.
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.”
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’s the limit.
Recommended Resources for Learning to Code or Launching a Tech Career
What are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to break into tech. Here are some posts from the Learn to Code With Me blog to check out, depending on which stage you’re at in your coding journey.
If you’re completely new to coding or you’ve started learning to code:
- 81 of the Best Places to Learn to Code for Free
- The Best Places to Learn Web Development Online
- 21 Places Where Women Can Learn How to Code
- The 11 Best Coursera Coding Courses for Aspiring Programmers
- 17 In-Demand Technology Skills to Learn in 2020
- The 30 Best Udemy Courses for Web Development
- How to Learn Tech Skills and Make a Career Change At 40 and Beyond (12 Tips)
If you’re ready to make money coding or launch a career in tech:
- Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Front End Developer?
- How to Make Money While Learning to Code (I Made $5k My First Year!)
- 11 Steps to Becoming a Software Engineer in 2020 (Without a CS Degree)
- Ultimate Guide to Starting a Cybersecurity Career in 2020
- 8 Reasons Why You Should Start a Technical Side Gig (Even if You’re a Coding Newbie)
- How to Make Your First $1,000 Through Freelancing
Other useful resources to check out:
- Recommended Resources and Tools for Beginners
- 43 Tech Resources for People of Color: Communities, Job Boards + More
- Free Portfolio Course
- Freelance Starter Guide
I cannot wait to see how coding improves your life and helps you achieve your dreams. :)