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Discussion on: Why Older People Struggle In Programming Jobs

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis Author

The trite answer to this is that, if I had those answers, I wouldn't be writing this article in the first place. But even though I struggle with some of the "issues" outlined in this article, I do believe there's value in continually trying to solve for a better solution. So with the full caveat that I don't properly know how to advise someone younger on these problems, here's my best stab at it for the time being:

  • The older I get, the more importance I see in the "fit" that you have with your employer / team / job title / etc. When I was younger, I didn't much care about these things. Work was work. Didn't much matter if I was working for a massive corporate retailer or a small startup in healthcare or a government contractor. But I've only recently started to (finally) become leery about jumping to an opportunity with any employer / team / etc. that just doesn't "feel" right.

  • You've gotta be honest - really honest - with yourself about your own personality "quirks". It can be really tempting to jump to that new opportunity that's offering $10k/year more. But if, for example, you don't thrive in big corporate bureaucracies, and this latest offer comes from a big corporate bureaucracy, well... you can imagine how that plays out.

  • If you have even a shred of risk-tolerance / entrepreneurship about you, I think it's always a good idea to keep working on side projects. One "solution" to the problems I've outlined in this article is to not work for anyone at all. To be clear, I'm not working for myself right now. And I haven't for a number of years. But I keep thinking about new things I could build that would get me out of those political arenas.

  • Do not isolate. Meaning: don't ever hunker down in a technology / environment just for the sake of hunkering down and being stubborn. As soon as you get pigeonholed into a specific tech stack, your aging rate (to potential employers) immediately triples. Sometimes it can feel painful to adopt a new tech if you don't honestly see any benefits in it (for me, TypeScript would fall into this category), but it can be far more painful to find, in a couple of years, that all the plum jobs are now featuring that tech stack that you so stubbornly have avoided.

I'm sure there are many, many other tips that I could come up with if I sat down and thought about it for hours. But these are some of the first ones that popped into my head.