May 22, 2015 / Melissa Faudree

You’re probably aware that it is increasingly more common for businesses to not require a degree for every job. But what has remained unchanged is businesses still require the necessary skills to complete a job’s daily responsibilities. They want someone who can do the job well. So how can you get the necessary skills without a degree?

Let’s imagine that you are interested in beginning a new career. You are fascinated with coding. However, you struggle with how you will achieve your goal of learning to code. Time and money are by far your biggest concerns. You know that you don’t have enough money to pay for additional schooling to receive a full degree. Also you already have a full time job and can’t quit. Are there ways you can achieve your goals without spending thousands and thousands of dollars? Absolutely!

There are numerous online code schools you can join such as Treehouse, Codeacademy, Coursera, Code School, Skillcrush, Udemy, Lynda and many others! However, not all of these code schools are free. I recently came across a great resource and thought it was worth sharing. It is a program called Free Code Camp for those looking to begin a new career in coding. Free Code Camp allows beginners to code for nonprofit organizations, as the name implies, for free. The thing that sets Free Code Camp apart from many of the code schools online is that you will be working on real projects for real nonprofit businesses. With this program you are able to build a portfolio that you can share with future employers to land a coding job.

But How Long Will it Take?
The Free Code Camp program takes 1,600 hours to complete and can all be done in your browser. The wonderful thing about this program is you set the pace for when you want to learn code. So depending on how much time and effort you want to put in each week, will decipher how long it will take you to complete the program. Your success depends solely on you!


What You’ll Learn
Free Code Camp doesn’t jump right into the hard stuff, like giving you a project for a nonprofit. They will ease you into the program. You will begin with the basics of web and web design using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, jQuery, and Chrome DevTools. Next you will learn more about programming with JavaScript and algorithms. Finally you will learn Agile methodologies, full stack JavaScript, Git, MongoDB, Angular.js, Express.js, and Node.js.

To break it down a little more, you will spend 200 hours with lessons learning about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and databases. You will spend 600 building practice projects. Finally you will complete 800 hours building full stack solutions for nonprofit organizations. When you’ve completed the program you will 3-5 nonprofit projects in your portfolio.


Stuck on Something?
Fear not, if you get stuck Free Code Camp is always there to help! Free Code Camp has a forum called Stack Overflow, where you can post your questions and concerns. They also have a chat room where you can receive help from their staff and other campers. The chat is available for you 24/7. The chat room is a great place not only for questions but also for chatting with other campers like yourself. You can even find yourself a camper to join projects with.

Two is Better than One with Pair Programming
When you have a nonprofit project you will be assigned another camper and will pair program. Pair programming allows two people to code together on projects. This can be done at one computer however, in most cases this is done virtually. You can use Screenhero, a screenshare program to help work together. You can share insights and solve problems together. Part of the time you will collaborate together on the project and the other half you will work independently.

Free Code Camp matches you with another camper based on your time commitment, time zone, nonprofit project you’ve chosen and any prior experience in coding. When you have a nonprofit project, you are only able to devote your time to that one project. This should prevent stress or feeling overwhelmed. After all, learning should be fun!

The concept of Free Code Camp is great! It helps those nonprofit organizations and it helps you learn code for free. It seems like a win-win for everyone.

How did you learn to code? Share with us your programming journey in the comments below. We’d love to hear your story!