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Well-Known Programmers Urge Students: Learn to Code

By guest blogger Victoria O'Dea

Some of the most recognizable and successful computer programmers in the world talk about how learning to code changed their lives in a short film that seeks to demystify that work.

The film—which comes in one-minute, five-minute and nine-minute versions—was produced by Code.org, a non-profit foundation committed to supporting the growth of computer-programming education.

Code.org produced the short film to address what they see as the growing gap between the number of available programming jobs and the number of students graduating from American universities with the necessary skills to perform those jobs. The organization estimates that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million programming jobs, but only 400,000 computer science graduates, leaving 1 million unfilled positions.

The film is part of an effort to change that statistic, by giving students a clear understanding of what a computer programmer does. It features several well-known programmers, including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, whose candid testimonials make computer programming seem approachable and fun.

"It's really not unlike playing an instrument, or playing a sport," said Drew Houston, the creator of Dropbox, in the full-length version of the film. "It starts off being very intimidating, but you kind of get the hang of it over time."

The programmers leave students with the message that learning how to code with leave them with a variety of skills, and an array of career options.

"It's amazing, I think it's the closest thing we have to a superpower," said Houston.

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