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Re: How realistic is an extended absence?

by Jim (Curate)
on Aug 19, 2014 at 17:35 UTC ( #1098010=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to How realistic is an extended absence?

No one else has said it, so I will. Five years from now, you'll be five years older than you are today. From what you've told us, you're about 35. So you'd be re-entering the IT workforce at around 40. At that point, you'll be competing for jobs with newly-graduated upstarts who are half your age, and who will inevitably be perceived by employers to have just learned the stuff that's much more important than what you learned 17 years earlier and stopped practicing five years earlier. What's more, it'll be five years in the future, and the rate of change of all things in the world today is rapidly accelerating. (Toffler, et al.) So I think it's realistic to expect that it'll be difficult for you to pick up where you left off today five years from now. (I'm a 53-year-old American male, and I hate that what I'm telling you is true. I admit I'm painting a picture in very broad brush strokes. The point is, age matters.)

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Re^2: How realistic is an extended absence?
by ksublondie (Friar) on Aug 20, 2014 at 22:39 UTC
    Wow. I instantly feel old and depressed...

      I'm pretty long in the tooth as well. I get paid more every year and the last couple of hiring interviews I was told there wasn't even any competition in the pile of CVs. Good devs are *always* in demand.

      To amplify what I said before: being in a single position for years can be more stifling than taking the same amount of time off. I know devs who still practice 5.4/1998 style precisely because they've been employed full time since that era. Your sabbatical will be what you decide to make of it. Ageism is for retail and food services. :P

        ...being in a single position for years can be more stifling...

        Good point. The only negatives I've ever had with my job is 1) being the "only one" and 2) the pay. I've never worked with other programmers and as a result don't get the benefit of bouncing ideas off others and gleaning from their knowledge. I was recently told by a "fellow" programmer during a social situation that I "program, but am not a 'programmer'". Whatever that means. I took the high road and dropped the conversation before it seriously went south. I'll just assume it's a misunderstanding of my job since I don't work in a dev shop... Nevertheless, I've started feeling lately that I'm getting stale. Who has time to keep up with the latest trends when the to-dos are piling up faster than the have-dones?

        Re: #2...My dad always said "I'd rather be underpaid for my job. If my boss realizes he's getting a good deal, I'll be the last one on the chopping block." With the exception of a few individuals (fortunately, everyone I report to or they report to, all the way up to the top), the organization as a whole doesn't have a clue what I do. It just chafes me that if I quit, it will be an eye-opener to replace me. This would certainly be a much easier decision if I held a non-educated, non-skilled low-paying job. I make too much to quit, but I don't make what I'm worth, either.

        Ageism is for retail and food services.

        I like to think, however naively, that good, working-stock, intelligent people can always find jobs. Realistically? Who knows. It may not be ideal and require a paycut, move accross the country, demotion, etc. I know I'll always be "hireable", the question always on my mind is if it will be in IT. ...And do I care anymore? I can't answer that question right now. I'm too busy bribing a 3 year old to pee in a toilet when she'd rather squat in the yard.

Re^2: How realistic is an extended absence?
by einhverfr (Friar) on Sep 04, 2014 at 11:25 UTC

    But a 40 year old programmer also can do different stuff better than a new graduate. I mostly do financial software and I have to say that while occasionally we have had recent graduates contribute (and contribute a lot) on the whole most of us who do it for a living are older, have kids of our own, and work hard at it. Many of us are self-employed because we don't *want* to work a corporate job. A few are self-employed out of necessity (things like age discrimination).

    The thing is, programming knowledge itself only allows you to solve pure programming problems. Solving anything else requires domain knowledge and that increases with age. Additionally, I find that older programmers tend to be better at smelling where context is potentially problematic and slowing down before a big mess is created.

    The problem is actually a lack of sense of history. As Harry Spencer said, those who do not understand UNIX are destined to reinvent it badly. Older and wiser programmers who do understand the solutions that have come before are better equipped to solve tomorrow's problems than the just-graduated hot-shots. But the companies don't know that and so they miss out.

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