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Why You Should Learn Basic Code as a Non-Technical Person (S5E18)

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If you’re not 100% sure about what to do with your life/career—why learn to code? Is it a waste of time, or are there other ways that coding can help you even if you’re not sure about going pro?

Joy CarreraThere sure are. Joy Carrera studied chemical engineering and international studies, then spent 6 years working in startups, before learning basic web development skills transformed her life.

She attributes those skills to finding her voice and starting Part Time Exploradora (a tech & travel lifestyle blog) and the Basic Brown Nerds podcast. Now, she is founding PoderX, her own adtech & digital operations firm.

In today’s episode, Joy talks about why everyone should learn to code, even if you’re not technical. Listen below!


Key Takeaways

1. Learning basic code can help you professionally and personally

Even if your role at work isn’t directly tech-related, you might be surprised how improving your tech skills can help you level up in your day job. “As an example, in sales, if you are going to be at a company selling their software, how will you be effective if you don't know how it actually works?” Joy explains. Having background knowledge of technical functions and terminology will give you a massive boost.

For Joy’s work in online advertising, the connection is clear. “If you're working, in my case, in online advertising, you need to understand basic web dev, like HTML, CSS, and mainly JavaScript. I need to be able to tell the developer team, ‘Hey, this is the problem,’ and narrow it down for them so they know where to look.”

If you’re in a role of leadership, understanding your team’s duties is essential for you to oversee their work. “I hired and managed people,” Joy says. “I think understanding what they were supposed to be doing also made me a better manager. It also let me know who I needed to hire and understanding that they weren't going to try to pull a fast one on me either. “

leadership and management

Knowing these skills can broaden your options when it comes to your personal life as well. “Even for the simple things, like setting up a simple website, right? You need to know a little bit of code, like if your plugin doesn't work. I think it's really beneficial to understand how that works. I was having an issue with my podcast and was able to go through it and understand it myself.”

2. Coming from a different background can be an asset

When you’re thinking about transitioning into tech from an established career or different field of study, start by considering the various strengths your former background gives you.

“For me, it wasn't that crazy of a transition when I really thought about it,” Joy says. “I actually have a background in chemical engineering and International Studies. Chemical engineering was very process-based, like A plus B equals this, right. And I feel like that's really how programming works: everything has a cause and effect. When I realized that, it became way less intimidating for me.”


In a previous episode, Ventrice Lam talks about her transition from finance. And I (Laurence) was an English major! It goes to show that tech can welcome anyone, and you probably already have skills that can help you—be it an analytical mind, visual design skills, or a knack for explaining complex concepts in simple words.

3. Tech makes it easier to travel

For a lot of technical jobs, Joy says, “All you really need is wifi! All of my project management tools were online. Talking is often slacking (chatting with) everybody or emailing people.”

“One of my passions is traveling,” she continues. “I love meeting people from different countries, from different cultures and gaining new perspectives while also seeing really cool places. I met some people in Southeast Asia that told me they worked online. That really sparked my interest in tech because I was like, hold up, you’re telling me that you can travel and be able to make money while using your skills? And that's really how I pivoted my job.”


If you’re interested in learning more about working remotely and traveling, make sure to tune in for our next episode where I talk to Dave Trabka about being a digital nomad!

Links and mentions from the episode:

Where to listen to the podcast

You can listen to the Learn to Code With Me podcast on the following platforms:

  1. iTunes
  2. Overcast
  3. Stitcher
  4. Spotify

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Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors

Techmeme Ride Home: The Techmeme Ride Home podcast brings you up to speed on the day’s top tech news, as well as the top tweets and conversations around those news stories, in just 20 minutes a day. Search Ride Home in your podcast app and subscribe to the Techmeme Ride Home podcast today.

Interview Cake: Interview Cake is a tool that helps you practice technical interview questions, so you can land your first—or next—job in tech. When you join Interview Cake, you get over 50 hours of technical interview practice questions. To find out more and get 20% off, go to learntocodewith.me/cake.

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