So You Want to Be a Programmer…

If you’ve been following our Programming series, you’ve realized by now that contrary to popular belief, programming is easier than you think and anyone can learn it.  Perhaps you’ve even tried some of the programming examples and thought about becoming a professional programmer.  If so, we’ve got the 411 on programming careers.

Typical Job Responsibilities:

Programmers write code in a programming language, typically to specifications defined by users; the code could be written in 1 of several languages, and programmers are expected to know multiple languages.  Once the code is written, programmers then debug and test it.  Oftentimes, programmers are responsible for fixing or modifying code written by others.  On the whole, the job is a detail-oriented one that involves a lot of solitary time in front of a computer monitor.

Education:

While a Bachelor’s Degree is the typical prerequisite to become a programmer, there are some jobs that will accept 2-year degrees and even certificates.

Job Growth:

Steady growth is anticipated in this career field with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that “employment of computer programmers is projected to grow 8% from 2012 to 2022.”[1]

Flexibility:

Programming tends to offer more flexibility than the average job.  Many programming jobs allow employees the ability to work from home some of the time.  Additionally, there are a lot of opportunities for programming freelancers to pick up projects, either in addition to their salaried income or as full-time freelancers.

Salary:

This is where programming really beats out a number of other professions.  On average, programmers earn about $76,000/year.  The highest paid can earn upwards of $100,000.  This is one reason that U.S. News and World Report has deemed programming one of the best technology jobs.[2]

If the idea of becoming a programmer appeals to you, check out our programming basics series to get started—we’ll give you pointers on programming concepts to help you see if this is a good career fit for you.

 

 

Thought For The Day

“Architecture is a theatre stage setting where the leading actors are the people, and to dramatically direct the dialogue between these people and space is the technique of designing.”
Kisho Kurokawa

 

 

5 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

With the popularity of social media, companies are looking for ways to use this marketing avenue more effectively.  Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds.  Check out our top tips for increasing social media engagement with your customers:

  1. Get Visual.  Did you know that images can be an excellent way of increasing social media engagement?  Research indicates that images can lead to an 85% increase in Facebook interaction and 35% more retweets.[1]

  2. Follow the 80/20 Rule.  Rather than inundating followers with sales-related pitches, follow the 80/20 marketing rule.  Create 80% of your content around the interests of your fan base.  This might include industry news, upcoming events, or highlighting a charity that your company supports.  The remaining 20% of your content can be more sales-oriented in nature.

  3. Have a Call-To-Action (CTA).  A CTA is so important in marketing.  Essentially, it instructs customers to engage in a specific behavior after reading your blog, Facebook post, etc.  For instance, you might suggest that they “Like” your company on Facebook, visit a link, or tweet using a certain hashtag.

  4. Use a Guest Blogger.  Want to attract new users to your website?  Consider using a guest blogger with a large following.  Select someone who would be interesting to your readership and allow them to write a blog post—this will increase your brand recognition and generate industry notice.

  5. Ask Questions.  A great way to enhance your social media engagement is through the use of questions.  For instance, Kissmetrics found that posts with questions receive 100% more comments.  Additionally, a study by Buddy Media shows that a question at the end of a post increases interaction by 15%, compared to questions that are in the beginning or the middle of a post.[2]

The Basics of Programming: Applying the Theory

So far in our programming series, we’ve learned about some basic concepts like variables, functions, and operators with examples given in the C language.  Now it’s time to apply everything we’ve learned to a more meaningful, problem-solving example.

In order to solve that problem, however, we’re going to have to discuss some things that we haven’t mentioned before.  These are not complicated, but slightly more abstract ideas than the ones we’ve covered already.  Now that you’re familiar with some basic C programming, you’re ready for these new concepts.

The first thing we’re going to discuss are standard libraries.  The C standard library provides macros, type definitions, and functions for tasks like string handling, mathematical computations, input/output processing, memory allocation and several other operating system services.  Basically, the libraries are a collection of code modules written by other people, which you can use without actually knowing how they were implemented.  One example of using a library is the printf function we used before.  However, in order to use these libraries, you have to emphasize which one you are going to use, simply by writing:

#include <some_library.h>

in the beginning of your program.

Let’s continue.  The next thing needed for our example is a concept called structs.  Structs allow programmers to group variables in a meaningful way, to describe or catalog something.  This way, you can “make new data types,” since the language enables you to perform operations on your struct just like on some other data type.

For instance, if you want to work with points, which we are going to do in the video example, you can define a struct called Point.  The two variables we need to describe a point are the coordinates: x and y.  So, here’s the syntax for defining a struct Point in C:

struct Point

{

int x;

int y;

} ;

Now, you can use Point as any other data type, and access its members by writing some_point.x or some_point.y.

Finally, the last term you need to familiarize yourself with is loops.  Loops are programming constructs that enable you to easily do something multiple times.  You can specify how many times you want an operation to be performed, and the condition when the repetition stops.
Here’s the syntax for defining a so-called for loop in C:

int i;

for(i=0; i<n; ++i)

{

/*do something*/

}

This will repeat an action n times; the variable i (in this context called an iterator) will be initialized with the value 0.  Then, a check will be made to see if i < n.  If it is, some operation will be repeated, and i will be increased by 1.  If not, we exit the loop.

To see how you can actually use these concepts when writing a program, please see the video below.  In the video, we’ll solve a more complex and interesting problem using what we’ve learned so far.  Please note, we will not yet be covering input checking and user interfaces but will in future articles so stay tuned.

10 Quick Marketing Tips: Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of our 2-part Quick Marketing Tips series, we discussed the importance of marketing.  Without it, a company runs the risk of losing valuable market share to its competition.  In that earlier post, we highlighted 5 of 10 ways that you can improve your marketing in 2015.  Today, we offer you the remaining 5 quick marketing tips:

  1. Use Testimonials.  Customers tend to find testimonials persuasive, because they’re coming from people just like them—consumers.  Talk to your top clients or customers and ask them if they’d be willing to provide you with a testimonial.  Then, make sure that their testimonials are prominently displayed on your website.
  2. Get Out There!  This can be especially important for smaller business owners.  Attend trade shows and conferences to promote your products and services.  If you’re self-employed, you may even want to teach classes on a topic related to your career—this can be an easy way to generate additional clientele.  For example, one handyman that we know offered home improvement classes at the local recreation center.  He used this as an opportunity to pass his business card to students interested in hiring him for contract work.
  3. Offer a Customer Loyalty Program.  Current customers can be your greatest source of new customers—reward your customers with a loyalty program.  This is guaranteed to create more buzz about your products and services.
  4. Have a Giveaway.  Giveaways are a great opportunity to build your email marketing list.  Offer a freebie, a monthly drawing or some other type of incentive that requires users to sign up.  Then, send email marketing newsletters to these individuals (after obtaining their permission, of course!).
  5. Use Social Media.  Social media is huge these days and it’s a certainty that if you’re not using it, your competitors are.  If you own a smaller business, you may not have time to create a full-fledged social media strategy.  However, we recommend that you pick 1 thing—Facebook, for example—and focus on doing it well.  The relatively small amount of time and effort you put in could yield big dividends.