In recent tests to assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds worldwide, the UK ranked 26th for maths and 20th for science, down overall from 28th and 16th respectively in 2009. For a view of young people’s potential in computer programming careers, however, such tests don’t necessarily tell the full story.

Employers look for other personal attributes and skills beyond academic credentials when assessing candidates’ suitability; for instance, creativity, a collaborative approach, and an entrepreneurial spirit are as important as aptitude and experience. So to help present the skills needed for computer programming in a different light, here are 10 signs coding could be right for you; signs that aren’t always accounted for in academic tests.


1. You’re a problem-solving pro

Many people will tolerate problems without looking for a proactive way to solve them, particularly if tolerating the problem is easier. If you don’t take this approach but actually enjoy the challenge of solving problems of all kinds, then that’s a great sign that you could be suited to software development. If, in your desire to solve problems, you also consider realistic constraints – such as timeframes and budgets – this could be a real asset in your search for a career.

2. You have a passion for strategy games

Yes, it can be true that gaming is good for you, particularly where strategy games are concerned. This helps you make decisions based on several relevant factors, taking both short and long-term consequences into account. As well as computer games, those who enjoy offline games like chess, bridge or risk, could also have an underlying aptitude for programming. At Net-a-porter, for example, we even have a weekly games club.

3. You have a musical mind

While the evidence for the correlation between music and maths is still in debate, it seems commonplace for those with musical talent to have mathematical abilities. In our team, there are numerous coders who either compose music, sing or play an instrument. In fact, roughly half the singers in our company choir are from the IT department.

4. You have a talent for winning arguments

No, we’re not talking about full-blown shouting matches. But if your logical approach to arguing your points in a structured way means that you frequently win over your opponents, this could be a sign that you have the systematic thinking needed for software development.

5. You love making things

You can get the same sense of satisfaction from making something in the virtual world as you can in the physical world. Indeed, you aren’t constrained by practicalities like materials and space in the digital world, so imagination is your only limit. Having a natural curiosity for how things work and how to make them work better is a good indication of a nascent software developer.