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Is a coding career in your future?

For computer programmers, this one trait is key

Cole Frock //July 26, 2016//

Is a coding career in your future?

For computer programmers, this one trait is key

Cole Frock //July 26, 2016//

The economy is evolving quite quickly. Five years ago, hardly anyone was talking about wearable technology, and now you can’t walk down the sidewalk without seeing a Fitbit or Apple watch.

About a decade ago, social media was in its infancy; now it’s a viable career track. Open jobs and careers aren’t keeping pace with the training we need to be prepared and productive. As industries transform, new training programs are popping up to help people ready themselves for success in the new economy.

 Discovering how to make that transition is no doubt challenging, and as the director of a coding school, people regularly inquire about the prerequisites and necessary skills to venture onto the career path of a programmer. FAQs include:  

• Do I need to be a math genius?

• Does it matter that I have never studied computers?

• Do I need to speak Klingon?’

There is no formula to triumph as a programmer. Attention to detail is key, and an ability to problem-solve and self-start to uncover answers to questions are musts. But perhaps the most important quality is grit – a willingness to stick it out despite massive challenges and learn and grow. That is what separates the people who succeed in coding bootcamps and go on to attain tech-related jobs in high-performance organizations from those who don't.

Skill Distillery has instructed a diverse group of students, and witnessed successes across the board. So I thought I would share a few character observations and anecdotes from these experiences with any future programmers:

Paralegal: The precision and attention-to-detail required to effectively support a legal team translates well to computer coding. Keeping detailed records, managing complex libraries, and working with a team are all valuable assets in this line of work, and as more firms focus on cost-cutting, and more databases are maintained online or in the cloud, opportunities for paralegals are shrinking. But the experience that individuals with this background bring to the table can be leveraged to excel in computer programmers.

Military personnel: Skill Distillery is one of a handful of short-term tech-based schools certified to accept the GI BillⓇ, allowing our school to work with and train veterans from every branch of service across the country. Fostering these people take their experiences from intelligence to artillery to sniper school to special forces and apply it to a technology-centric work environment is incredibly achievable and rewarding. Each brings a unique perspective, and comes with a dedication and mental toughness to overcome obstacles.

Banking and finance: As more banks have moved their client-transactions online and the traditional banking infrastructure has shrunk, many industry members that worked the front lines at big banks are without gainful employment. But the skills and precision associated with managing accounts, handling personal finances and dealing with complex databases are totally applicable to coding, particularly in the case of a complex language like Java. 

At the end of the day, as we evaluate the population willing and able to take on the challenges of computer coding, people come through our doors with degrees in English literature, experience as chiropractors, air traffic controllers, and so many other backgrounds, each emerging from the program and landing a job as a Java programmer. Tackling coding is not about whether you were a National Merit Scholar in mathematics, but instead, like any other new skill, programming is about maintaining grit and determination on the path to success.


Cole Frock is the School Director of Skill Distillery, a four-month, Java-intensive coding school located in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Recognizing a key weakness in the IT training model, he worked within training provider Batky-Howell to develop a new kind of education program designed to ready people for competitive 21st century jobs. Having worked with a variety of Fortune 100 corporations as well as start-up companies, Frock is passionate about helping others reach their goals and takes special care to guide students from their first day through graduation and on to successful careers.