It might be a shock for you to find an article about getting started with programming on the blog of a seasoned software house.
But not all of us join STX Next as programmers, and today I’d like to share my experience of learning Python from the perspective of a Junior Inbound Marketing Specialist.
So if you’re fresh in this industry and you would like to find out how programming workshops look, this article is totally for you.
Or if you are a developer and you would like to find out what the whole process of getting the basics of Python looks like from the perspective of non-programmers, keep on reading as well. I hope that it will take you on a trip down memory lane and bring to your mind your own humble beginnings in programming.
By reading this article you will get to know:
why the Sales and Marketing Team at an IT company should know at least the basics of coding,
what the preparation before workshops looks like,
how much programming in Python you can get done in two days with no prior knowledge,
how learning (even during the weekend) can be fun!
Does the Sales and Marketing Team need to learn how to code?
The first question you may ask is:
“Does the Sales and Marketing Team really need to learn how to code?”
“They are just selling services and promoting the company,” you may think. At first glance, it might seem unnecessary for them to learn to code. But trust me, all of the roles in the team need some tech know-how to get results.
Take my role, for example. I run social media channels for STX Next. And even when I’m only trying to follow industry discussions and conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn, without programming knowledge I wouldn’t be able to contribute to the discussion. Try to imagine a situation where you want to interact with social media users and you have no idea what they are talking about!
On the other hand, when you’re working in sales you should know your product very well. In that case, the knowledge of the technologies we use for our projects is essential. It’s much easier to communicate with potential clients when you are familiar with the issues they face, and the solution you’re presenting, on a technical level. The more you know, the more reliable you are—and trust is one of the most important factors in this industry.
For the reasons above, and also out of sheer curiosity, our team decided to expand their knowledge in terms of programming. From day one at STX Next, we had heard that “Python is easy to learn and very logical.” This time we thought, “Okay, let’s put that to the test.”
I must admit that we were really excited about our upcoming workshops. The first step we took was to create a list of topics which we would like to cover. The list was getting longer and longer because everyone was adding new ideas.
In the end, what we came up with was quite similar to the table of contents of a Python coursebook for students. It’s worth mentioning that usually such courses last at least half a year. Our team was supposed to have two days of workshops.
We let our imagination run free and we envisioned that during these two days we will create an app. We didn’t specify what kind of app we wanted to create but definitely our aspirations were high. We were aiming for the stars!
Unfortunately, our dreams eventually met with reality. When our Python teacher Mateusz saw our list, he said, “Wow, if we could teach people all this in just 2 days, we could just grab developers off the street!”
So it turned out that after 2 days of theoretical and practical Python workshops, our team wouldn’t be able to create a professional application. Shocker, I know. But we were still optimistic because Mateusz promised us that we could at least create a computer game.
You can’t forget that organizing workshops is a demanding task. It’s not only about creating an agenda of the meeting. There are plenty of issues like finding a place and arranging food, snacks, cold and hot drinks. These workshops were our initiative so we decided to help our office assistants in organizing this event.
Of course, it wasn’t the first Python event which we were hosting. You may have heard about Python Has Power or other hackathons held by STX Next (if not, you can always follow our Facebook events to stay updated with our upcoming events). But our workshops were certainly the most basic level Python Has Power event thus far. Most of us were complete novices.
We all contributed to the organization of the event, but the one who really brought the weekend to another level was Marta, one of our Business Developers. Thanks to her, we were not only enjoying a great experience in programming but we could also experience a variety of culinary sensations.
Marta arranged dishes from all over the world for us. During breakfasts, we could enjoy French croissants, baguettes and different types of cheese. On Saturday, we tried different types of Italian pizza. And on Sunday we could imagine ourselves traveling to China because of delicious Dim Sum dumplings.
Actually, I’m willing to bet that without Marta even arranging simple snacks would have been difficult. I guess that her organizational skills which I could observe while working with her are perfect not only during sales processes. She could easily take up an alternative career as an event manager.
Let’s get coding!
Okay, I’ve already discussed why people from sales and marketing need to know how to code and told you about our culinary experiences, but it’s high time to talk about the essentials!
For the majority of us, the workshops were the first time when we had an opportunity to code in Python. Kuba was the exception because he had already tried the Python course on Codecademy. That’s probably why he finished the final task ahead of the group. One of the best students was also Olga, who had attended PyLadies courses (congratulations Olga).
We started the workshops by going over some theory, which was mainly a reminder for us about the differences between the frontend and backend, and a recap of the main features of Python.
After the short theoretical part we started to practice the most popular functions using the PyCharm IDE. I must say the program was easy to use and sped things up quite a bit. You could say I was… PyCharmed?
But what I liked the most personally was the friendly atmosphere which allowed us to ask questions (even the really silly ones) and focus on the issues which were more complicated.
Our final task on Sunday as novice programmers was to create a Battleship game! Of course, facing such a concrete task created a lot of excitement, and even brought out our competitive side. We were all trying to create the best Battleships version we could—and I still believe that mine was the coolest one.
What I learned
After the workshops I realized that Python is a really transparent, because even as a beginner all the functions were pretty clear to me. I also found that it’s quite easy to learn. What I like the most in this programming language is that you can do amazing things in just a few lines of code. I had the opportunity to code in other languages in the past, and compared to them I think Python’s great advantage is its clarity.
After this weekend I also realized that coding is not “black magic.” I guess that programming, like most the things in the world, is about practicing: if you do it everyday, you get better and better.
All in all, this was a great experience for me and I strongly believe that I will continue my adventure with coding. Who knows, perhaps in the future I’ll build an app in Python to analyze my marketing data?
Have I mentioned that I take care of the social media channels at STX Next? So if you liked the article, you’d do me a great favor if you could follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And while you’re at it, you could help me get closer to 400 followers on Quora. Thanks a bunch!