Ana Wang

Learning to Code

I currently work at a startup called SuperHi, where, along with the various roles I have, I mentor students just beginning to learn code. I teach primarily the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I break down concepts so that they’re easy to understand and aim to make learning and coding more accessible for creative people and non-developers.

I first touched code when I was a kid, but the opportunity to continue that curiosity never gained much momentum as one of 4 kids, one of whom was an older brother born 1986. We had one computer; you do the math. So for the majority of my teenage years, I spent my creative brain on writing and design.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in the digital space in various capacities, many of which included building, maintaining and launching web properties. I’ve never actually been a “web designer”, but I did a lot of that while working in marketing for retail, at a time when the recession of 2008 was forcing many businesses to take low-cost, new approaches to business growth, including getting online for the very first time. While building my own creative projects, I also tweaked HTML and CSS (and later, Liquid) with the very limited knowledge I had from late 90s web tinkering.

I spent many years thinking about learning to code but it never stuck because I didn’t actually want to be a developer; most “learn to code” messaging was focused so much on getting a job as a developer that it didn’t quite resonate with me, a creative who just wanted to learn and upskill, build more things, build better things. After low-key building my curiosity by taking the first half of Harvard’s CS50, reading Paul Ford’s What is Code?, and watching this Crash Course to Computer Science series on Youtube (this was over the course of probably several months, but these are among the most significant things I consumed that sparked my interest), I was inspired to go for it. So finally, facing a creative lull in my career and ready to take on a new skill, in Christmas of 2018 (if you’re counting, this is almost exactly 20 years since I first touched HTML as a kid), I bought myself a code course at SuperHi: Foundation HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I decided on this course over others because I realized that I needed a project-based approach to learning. I had tried reading books and taking free code bootcamps but while I had gained knowledge, I wasn’t inspired to keep going.

In April 2019, I started (and failed) at my first #100DaysofCode challenge, which I was publicly documenting on a previous version of this website, giving up at around day 30.

Around this time, just a few months after taking the course, I left a great job at Shopify to join SuperHi and help teach other people to code too. I don’t have as much experience or knowledge as the actual developers on my team, so the imposter syndrome is real, but I’ve spent a big chunk of my career staying just one step ahead of the people I teach, and I think it’s made me a much more empathetic and relatable teacher.

So far, I use code to tweak and build mostly simple websites, such as this one (which I made with Jekyll), or ecommerce stores on Shopify. I think it’s mostly because I’ve been in that space for so long. Next, I’m learning how to code for data visualization so that I can build interactive content pieces, to combine my love for storytelling and information with visual presentation and interactivity.

I’m also interested in writing more technical content geared specifically towards creatives and people who don’t consider themselves “technical”. I believe that code is a highly creative craft and I’m excited to learn and teach more people about it, as well as break conventional stereotypes that I believe are holding people back from participating in one of the most creative and influential disciplines and skills of our time.