Coding 101: WTF is it, why should you learn it and everything else you need to know

'Cos we live in the future now

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Sure, you might spend a fair few hours on the computer every day - but how much of that is actually spent doing something useful, and how much of it is you looking at cats eating doughnuts on tumblr while Liam Payne gets shirtless? Yep, we thought so.

If you're technology obsessed (or even if you're just starting to think about your future) then coding is something that you need to know about.  It's a skill that's becoming more and more important to have sitting on your CV, but what's it actually all about?

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It might look fairly terrifying to see a load of mumbo jumbo technical stuff written across your laptop screen, but it's never been easier to start learning how to code. So here's your ultimate Coding 101 to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about becoming a kickass coder.

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So what actually is coding?

In a very simple, basic af nutshell, when you're coding you're writing instructions for your computer to make things happen. These instructions are made up of words and numbers, and when you put them in the right order it will tell your computer what you want it to do. You can make and create just about anything you want with code - not just websites, but games, pictures or a film.

Computers are pretty stupid on their own, but they are very obedient when someone's in control of 'em, and that could be you. They will do exactly what you want them to do, so long as you tell them how to do it correctly. 

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Sounds like a different language to me.

Well it kind of is, really. Learning to code is pretty similar to learning a new foreign language in the way that you have to learn which words go where, with each other and why - not to mention ten learning what to do with the numbers too.

Not only that, but there are TONS of different coding languages - each one designed with certain things in mind. Examples include C, a 'low level' but fast programming language that is good for anything graphically intensive like games; Javascript, which was specifically designed for dealing with web content; and Perl, a multi-functional language that is often referred to as the 'swiss army knife' of programming.

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Right, well why would I ever need to learn all this?

For your FUTURE, duh. Code powers the whole of our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer programme, calculator and everything else electronic you can think of relies on code in order to operate, meaning that coders are seriously important.

Over the next 10 years it's estimated that there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer sciences and only around 400,000 graduates qualified to do them, meaning that if you DO know your stuff, you're going to be at a massive advantage when it comes to finding a career.

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What kinda jobs is it helpful for?

With a good knowledge of coding, it's pretty obvious that any digital jobs will be loads easier for you to get involved with, but jobs not directly linked to computer sciences - such as banking, medicine and journalism - will also be affected by the need for at least an understanding of programming and coding in the not so distant future.

Applying for even non-coding jobs like writing, designing and marketing with a coding skill on your CV will mean you stand out from the crowd. And as a bit of a bonus, jobs that are coding-related jobs are also generally higher paid too.

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Isn't all this computing stuff a bit of a mans world?

NO, NOPE, NADA AND NEIN. Go and wash your mouth out. While it might have traditionally been a pretty male dominated industry, there's currently a huge turnaround happening with women taking on the STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, maths) more and more frequently. You can read more about that here, if you fancy.

Organisations like Girls Can Code, and the Netflix documentary CodeGirl are worth checking out to see exactly why getting involved with coding can be the ultimate girl power asskicking skill you need.

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So how do I get started?

If you're in school then it's pretty likely that you will have already made a start on coding, as it was introduced into the curriculum back in 2014.  ICT is out and 'Computing' is officially in. Kids from the age of 5 are starting to get to grips with the very basics now, which proves that we literally LIVE IN THE FUTURE.

There are loads of other ways you can start to learn coding too though - learn-to-code apps like Tynker, Hopscotch, ScratchJr and Hakitzu are all pretty great.

Code Academy, GoThinkBig and O2's Decoded tool are worth checking out, and YouTube tutorials are great too - you can tell which ones will be better depending on the amount of views it has. 

Dash, Hour Of Code and Code Avengers are also recommended good starting points, interactive step-by-step guides that introduce you to the elements of coding slowly but surely, and ensure you don't panic and get sweaty at the sight of some complex script. 

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Reckon this is something you might wanna get involved with? Already obsessed with coding? Let us know with a tweet to @Sugarscape.

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