Tech Skills to Learn While Stuck at Home

Meet Dave and Steve - a pair of tech-savvy roommates with more time on their hands than they know what to do with. This is an excerpt from a recording they made late one night with plans to turn it into a podcast. They’re not sure that they want to be bound to a podcast format, but they wanted to share this conversation.

DAVE: Okay, here’s one: Your top five skills to learn during the Coronavirus.

STEVE: Is this for me at my current level of knowledge or someone who is just starting out with the hopes of launching a tech career?

DAVE: Let’s say someone is just starting out.

STEVE: Well, if you don’t know how to code at all, I’d jump on one of the learn-to-code websites like FreeCodeCamp or Treehouse, and start learning from the bottom up. This is sort of like learning basic vocabulary and grammar in school, right? Those websites will give you a foundation, plus some ideas on a few projects you can do on your own. And eventually they’re going to come out of nowhere and confuse you like crazy. So your problem-solving is going to get a workout. Two, I’d build a WordPress website from scratch.

DAVE: I was going to say that one, too.

STEVE: Yeah, it’s an enormous learning experience in problem-solving. Let’s say you want it to be a portfolio site for your dad’s photography hobby. Sure, you can find all sorts of portfolio WordPress templates, but eventually you’re going to realize that none of them quite do exactly what you want. You’ll have seen some guy’s website and you’ll say, “That! I want my website to do that!” So the first thing you do.

DAVE: The first thing you do is start searching.

STEVE: Yeah, you start searching… what is this thing called? What is the thing behind the thing called? Is it going to be a jQuery slider? Is it going to be a PHP shortcode? And you’re going to learn a lot just trying to figure out what it is that you want that you don’t have - even if you can’t make it work for yourself. Three: I guess this is more for me, but I’d want to learn more about the marketing side of things, because in the end everything you’re building is for marketing.

DAVE: That’s some zen talk right there.

STEVE: Well, it’s true. There are all these streamlined email marketing and text marketing tools now. I’d probably read about that, at least the theory part so I could be conversational about it. I’d look up examples of chatbots, examples of awesome email one-two-three campaigns.

DAVE: Brilliant.

STEVE: (Laughing) Thanks. Okay, four: I saw in one of my social media feeds that there is a MasterClass on negotiation now.

DAVE: The hostage negotiator guy.

STEVE: Yeah, I think he was with the FBI. [His name is Chris Voss.] Which made me think... I think I’d look for some soft skills like sales or negotiation, maybe. I want to know how to make my career go more smoothly. If I can persuade the people in power to give me more...

DAVE: More money!

STEVE: More money maybe, but more opportunities is what I was going to say.

DAVE: Or that, too!

STEVE: Yeah. I think it would be helpful.

DAVE: Okay, these are all great. What’s your number five?

STEVE: That’s a tough one... But I think I would be interested in learning something completely away from the tech field, like art history or music history or something. I’d want to be well-rounded and a little cultured. I’d like to get excited about going to see a symphony perform, or visit the museums when I travel.

DAVE: I like where you’re headed.

STEVE: So yeah, that would be my five: Learn your basics on how to code. Learn some troubleshooting and problem-solving and the basics of how WordPress works. Roll some marketing theory into that, and then pick up some soft skills.

DAVE: And the wrapper on it all is to become a classy individual like Steve here.

STEVE: Exactly.

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