Part 2: Learning to Program After 30


Over the last several months, people have asked “What are you doing to learn to program?” “How do I get started?”  There are a number of resources out there geared to your intended outcome—is this a new hobby to better yourself and become more marketable (like me) or a full-time vocation change? 

This is not to say you can’t become a programmer part-time, it’s just to say there are some of us (ME) who have to still bring home the bacon while learning.

Below are some of the tools I’ve used, in addition to local, Charleston-area resources to consider. Getting Your Toes Wet – What is OOP (Object-oriented programming)?

1. Foundations of Programming Fundamentals

  • I’m a huge fan of Lynda and think you can learn anything there (I’ve completed about 10 or more courses over the last year in programming, photography, WordPress, etc).
  • This class provides an excellent overview of what programming is.
  • At nearly 5 hours long, it is a bit of an investment, however, Lynda breaks the sections down into bite-sized segments (down to 5 minutes long). 

I highly recommend this for anyone non-technical working in the industry as it will fill in a lot of gaps in knowledge. I would not suggest jumping right into their Java course however. The classes below provide a better introduction.Digging in a Little Bit – Start Programming

The following are some resources my programming mentor connected me with to “get my hands dirty.” 

In order to learn to program, you MUST practice. I highly suggest having a computer setup to type while the instructors do to create muscle memory for programming! 

1. Pragim Technologies: C# Tutorials

  • This is where I started. The sound quality isn’t great at first (the first 3-4 videos), but it gets better after that (and it’s free!).
  • I now understand he started me here because the basic concepts are a little easier to understand in C#.

2. Central Connecticut State University: Introduction to Computer Science using Java by Bradley Kjell

  • Starts with the basics of computer science – how the computer and its memory system works. 
  • Then, it follows the natural progression into Java programming.
  • This is a full learning environment including text (and audio), interactive quizzes and flashcards.
  • It even includes homework (which is what’s so time consuming)! I’m still working my way through this one.

3. The New Boston: Java Programming Tutorial

Short, sweet and it’s like learning to program from your bro Bucky. No really, his name is Bucky.

All In – Looking for a Career Change in the Short-Term

Below are some full-time and part-time tracks to get you to your career as a programmer in as little as 12 weeks. Both include instructors from industry and very high placement rates and positive outcomes. 

1. ECPI University: Bachelor of Science in CIS with a concentration in Software Development

  • Evening full bachelor’s degree focused on Software Development from a SACS-accredited institution.
  • Do I need a degree? Not always but sometimes depending on the employer. It’s very helpful to get one-on-one instruction.
  • With small class sizes (typically 7 or so students in Software) you get a lot of attention from dynamic instructors (including my mentor – I have worked at ECPI so I may be partial).
  • Classes include Java, C#, Mobile App Development, and more.
  • Classes start every 5 weeks and are held in the evenings (geared towards working adults). Part-time options do exist.
  • I’m not allowed to talk about official placement rates, but message me if you want the scoop. Hint: “There’s no such thing as an unemployed geek” as my mentor would say.

2. The Iron Yard

  • This is the most full-time, intensive of resources.
  • In 12 short (or long!) weeks you can go from 0 to 60 in Front End Engineering, Backend Engineering or Mobile.
  • Average students spend 60 hours a week at the Iron Yard in a mix of classes, labs, and homework.
  • Classes run 3 times per year.

Feeling jazzed? Feeling overwhelmed? The key here – make a commitment (time AND heart) and keep it. If you’re learning just a few things a week, it’s fine. The goal is to continue to move forward. It’s your turn to tell the world to watch out!