In the 20th century, the American economy was built on iron and steel. Today it’s foundation is billions of lines of computer code. We live in a digital world created by those who understand how to make the internet and our gadgets dance to a tune written in programming languages most of us can’t even name.
While computer coding is often seen as a young person’s pursuit, there is no age limit on learning this valuable skill. Here are four reasons why older people, including those in the post-career phase of life, should learn to code:
1. It’s a mental challenge. Research indicates that learning complex new skills helps keep our brains nimble and healthy. Learning computer coding is akin to mastering a new language or musical instrument, both of which are proven brain boosters. Coding also nurtures logical thinking and problem solving.
2. It could lead to work. I’m a big believer in working part-time in the first years of retirement. A post-career job eases your transition into retirement and helps you stretch your nest egg. America will need about 1 million new coders over the next decade. If you have a knack for coding, it could be the perfect retirement job with the possibility of flexible hours and the ability to work from home.
3. It’s collaborative. Coders often work in teams, even if they are spread out geographically and only interact online or on the phone. This social element is good for new retirees, who should be striving to stay involved and meet new people.
4. It helps you understand technology. One sure way to become isolated in retirement is to refuse to adopt and adapt to new technologies. Don’t be the person who brags about not being on the Facebooks. Be the opposite. Have an intimate knowledge of digital technology and use it for good – tutor your internet-challenged friends or build an app for your church.
If you’re interested in learning to write computer code, check out the relevant offerings at your local university’s continuing education center or nearby community college. There are also several websites that offer coding courses, including Codeacademy.com and Udacity.com.
And, no, you don’t have to get a nose ring, dye your hair purple, or wear a hoodie to write computer code. But if you think that’s a good look for you, go right ahead!