The Blog

Too Old to Learn Code

I wrote my first line of code in 2014 and a year later I founded my first software consultancy. Since that, I have founded two other technology companies. I have designed and built several digital products. I have also competed in over 70 hackathons, winning around half of them. None of this almost happened, because I thought 23-year old was too old to learn to code.

I never wanted to be a coder, because as soon as I learned that one could tell computers what to do through code, I considered myself too old to be one. I certainly did not fit the image of a coder I had in my mind. In my mind, a coder was someone who was good at math and was always tinkering with computers.

In university, I studied cognitive science. Before that, I was a carpenter, like my father. I was a lousy student in college and graduated with awful grades. My grades did not get me into university. Instead, it was the entrance exam and quite a lot of luck that got me into university. However, it ended up being the university that eventually got me into coding.

Because I could not be coder, I thought maybe I could be a designer. The reason why I got into coding was the realization that design without functionality is useless. Static designs never have a function. After realizing that, I signed into an introductory course in Java. I was adamant that I was too old to code, and that I would never call myself a developer, but having at least some idea of how it all worked, shouldn’t hurt.

Call Yourself a Developer From Day One

Many people, especially when starting out are afraid to call themselves developers. I have been afraid to call myself a developer. Even though I’ve written production code used by 3000 bank analysts every week. That’s how it is, but the feeling goes away.

For me, the feeling finally started to disappear when I started my most recent venture. The more I questioned my choice of starting the whole thing, and the more I banged my head against the wall about code I wrote, the more confident I felt referring to myself as a coder. The remedy for imposter syndrome, in this case, is to build more stuff with code.

There are also people who seem themselves as developers but shouldn’t. Not before they have actually built something with code. I have seen one CEO have the audacity of calling himself a coder, despite never having worked as one nor having built anything with code.

You’re only a developer if build stuff, nothing else matters. Fancy CS degree doesn’t make you developer if the only thing you got to show for it is a piece paper with numbers. The grit to build websites, mobile apps, or anything that has code in it does makes you a developer. A person who just started is more of a developer than someone whose only argument for being a developer is the CS degree they have. So start building something today.

If you work in technology, start coding, it will elevate your other skills as well. Also, if you’re a digital designer and you don’t know how to code at all, start learning now. You don’t have to be a professional, but you have to have experience from building something with code. Unless you’re designing for print, a designer who can’t code does not have a place in tomorrow’s economy. If you’re an employer, start teaching your designers to code, or get rid of them. They are dead weight without the capability to code.

You are never too old to start coding. Start learning today. Tell statistics and stereotypes of what coder should and should not be to go fuck themselves. Everyone can and should know how to code.

You can find this post (and other similar ones) from my blog.