Why Learning to Code Part-time May be a Waste of Time

First of all, nothing is more admirable than the long hustle, grind, hard work and perseverance that one goes through when accomplishing something big like landing a job after teaching yourself to code in your free time. The problem is, that isn’t a story we hear much. In reality, without going “all in”, learning to code to the point of getting a job isn’t as realistic as we’d all like to believe. Educating yourself is absolutely not a waste of time, but if your goal is to go beyond self-enrichment (and to become a software engineer), I’d invite you to go all in, and here’s why.

1. Learning full-time will dramatically increase your chances of success

As you probably realize, there is no way to learn how to code other than hard work and long hours spent coding. We recommend that someone invest between 500 and 1000 hours in coding before applying to an entry level position. If you do the math, that’s a minimum of 1.5 hours/day for 365 days – a whole year. No breaks for Christmas, your birthday, or Saturdays! And that’s assuming you know exactly what to learn, have a mentor to review your work and guide you, and you possess super-human motivation and discipline. Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against you. On the other hand, if you can commit just 3 months to learning full-time, and work 60 hour weeks, you can hit 720 hours of coding!

2. Learning full-time may be more cost effective

Most people who choose to do some kind of part-time program to learn how to code do it because of the costs associated with quitting your job and learning through a full-time program. According to course report, grads of immersive coding programs in 2016 on average saw a $26k salary increase. That should be more than enough to offset the costs of a doing a full-time program. Plus, if the course report salary increase is true for you, but it takes you an additional 2 years to transition your career, you’ve missed out on a potential $52k.

But is that salary increase enough to offset the costs of paying for the program and quitting your job? For most, it is, even if you have to figure out some kind of financing up front. However, this must be caveated by saying that this isn’t the reality for everyone. For some, there just isn’t a way to make ends meet for 3+ months of being unemployed while you learn how to code. However, if someone is a great candidate to become a software engineer, there has to be a way to figure out how to help them cover their initial costs. At Project Shift, this means we’re building local partnerships to ensure that finances aren’t a barrier to admitting students who pass our admissions process. We know that what we’re doing is expensive and inconvenient, but there’s just no replacement for learning full-time and in-person.

3. Part Time Isn’t “all in”

Are good entrepreneurs successful because they’re the kind of people who are obsessive about their work, take risks and persevere? Or do they become obsessive, take risks and persevere because it’s what entrepreneurship beckons them to do? What does “becoming a software engineer” bid you to do? What large steps might you need to take to get there? Great entrepreneurs quit their jobs and take on an incredible amount of risk because they have a unique vision that is full of purpose and meaning. Though it’s difficult, they go “all in” on their ideas because they believe in their idea and they know that the only way to make it a reality is to put the hours in and grind it out.

So where are you? Do you believe that you should become a software engineer? Are you passionate about problem-solving, creating and building? Do you see yourself playing a crucial role in an exciting tech company that’s full of vision? Do you want to acquire one of the most in-demand job skills in the world so that your job can turn into a vocation that you enjoy, and not just a 40-hour grind? Not everyone should become a software engineer, but if you think you should, it’s time to consider going all in and figuring out what it would look like to learn it full-time.

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