And, finally, the desire to take the book away from it’s class-centred route, which we discuss in more detail here.
What was your path into Software development?
I was really lucky. When I was 18, at that time in the UK you could get into a top University and not have to take on a huge amount of debt. So, from a working class background, I was able to make that happen.
It’s frightening now, to see the amount of debt that has to be taken on to undertake a degree, especially at a top level college (in the States, but increasingly in other countries too). It horrifies me, honestly. And it’s not necessary.
What advice would you give someone without a CS background?
Off the top of my head... most importantly, don’t worry about not having a CS degree. A lot of the stuff I was taught, and is still taught today, was handy, but hardly the most important. Don’t ever let a lack of formal training put you off. I question the need for the traditional maths background.
Why? Because good software development has as much to do with communicating with other people as anything else. Comms skills, and being able to take on ideas are really important.
It’s also really important to go on a continuous learning path - you will never stop learning because software is constantly changing. The ability to learn and absorb things is key.
Then you need a lot of persistence. An ex-ThoughtWorker, Amanda Laucher, is doing some really interesting work, helping people from post-industrial mining regions in the US get into software development. They need ways to help them figure out who is likely to succeed and found that the biggest indicator is the ability to persevere through lots of setbacks. Because making software is like that - trial and error, breaking things, trying something else. Not giving up, pushing forwards.
So comm skills, pushing through, ability to learn. And finally, somewhere in there is a sense of taking something complicated, and making it clear and simple.