I recently read an article by Mindy McAdams, a professor of online journalism at the University of Florida that got me really thinking about learning programming as a communications student.
Mindy’s article, Teaching programming to journalists, explains how she can only get her students interest in coding if they believe they can do it. The problem is, she doesn’t know how.
I’m not a journalism student, and I’m not sure I have the answer to Mindy’s question. However, I understand where she’s coming from and hopefully, can shed some light on my own experiences learning about programming as a non-programmer.
Since freshman year, I’ve become enamored by the way the web is disrupting people’s consumption of media. It didn’t take me long to realize I would end up studying advertising, a field I felt had a better grasp on how the Internet was effecting it’s profession than say, film and television or public relations.
In addition to studying advertising, I chose to take a computer science course in the College of Arts and Sciences during my fall semester of sophomore year. I knew I needed to learn programming to become a better online advertising student. Even if I chose to not become a developer myself, I’d still have the ability to think like one and have a better grasp on product.
It was a disaster. I had chosen the intro class for CompSci majors — the one meant to weed out the pretenders. I had also chosen to overload that semester and taking an extra course in computer science wasn’t the best decision.
So, midway through, I dropped the course and received a ‘W’ on my transcript. I had good grades in the class and enjoyed learning about the intricacies of Java. However, my performance in my other classes was slipping as I spent more and more time trying to understand concepts for an elective course.
I decided while learning programming interested me, it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t do it.
Fast-forward to today. I’m finishing up something I said I couldn’t do two years ago and am 98% of the way done with my first web application.
What happened in between and what I decided to do differently helped me realize that not only could I do programming, but I enjoyed it too.
So how did I stay motivated despite a minor hiccup my sophomore year? Continue reading