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Dan Benge
Dan Benge

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An Old Dog Learning New Tricks

Dog using a laptop

After surviving a recent round of layoffs in my current position, I decided to compare my current skillset against what is being sought after on LinkedIn. I was shocked about how much had changed in four years. I was also a little disappointed in myself for not keeping my skills up to date. I knew very little about Node.js, Angular or any of the reactive frameworks. I used Handlebars from time to time, but that's about as close as I ever got to templating. I also haven't really been apart of "the conversation" beyond what I do at work.

I decided to learn Node.js, TypeScript and Angular. Someone at work tried to introduce Vue.JS to my team, so I added that too. Udemy was a big help in getting myself up to speed in these technologies. Suddenly coding was becoming a joy again. These frameworks like Vue and Bootstrap took a lot of the tedium out of coding UI so that you can get to a prototype stage a lot faster than ever before. Gone are the days where you have to write Javascript code to crawl through a table to aggregate data to send it back to the server, now it all gets updated directly with every form control update. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

The best thing that came out of this is that I feel like I am a part of the coversation again. I started listening to developer podcasts and I have signed up for a couple of local developer meet-ups. I also feel like have gained leverage in my current position because now I knew skills way beyond what I do.

Something else I've learned is that you shouldn't limit yourself to what you use in your current position. Learning new skills can help reinvigorate your interest in being a developer.

I forgot to mention I'm 46 old. I cut my teeth on VBA, HTML and SQL Server. I was coding before there was an ASP or a .Net. There have been a lot of conversations about older developers and how hard it would be to get a job later in life if I ever needed to. I think that as long as you stay excited about the industry, keep yourself in the middle of the conversation and understand that there is a world to explore that goes way beyond your place of work, you'll always be relevant. Making excuses for why you shouldn't learn is the fastest way to make yourself obsolete.

Now excuse me, I have a .Net Core/Angular class to go take.

Here's to learning!

Top comments (1)

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

I'm a bit older than you and what I've found is that staying current doesn't matter to many potential employers after you get past the dreaded 5-oh. They just assume that you haven't kept your skills up to date. You can sneak by the initial screening and pass the phone interviews but when you show up looking your age, well, the "cool kid" tech companies quickly show you the door. Corporate IT teams are a bit better, usually, but even they can show ageism.

That doesn't stop me from staying current on technology and stay in a learning mode though.