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Programming

Ask Slashdot: Will Older Programmers Always Have a Harder Time Getting a Job? 379

Posted by Soulskill
from the recommendation:-stop-aging dept.
Theseuss writes "Given the strong youth culture associated with the modern day Silicon Valley startup scene, many times it falls to the 40-year-old programmer to prove that he can still use the newest up-and-coming technology. Yet the rate at which the tech sector is growing suggests that in 20 years there will be a an order of magnitude more 'old-hat' programmers in the industry. As such, do you think the cultural bias towards young programmers will change in the near future?"
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Ask Slashdot: Will Older Programmers Always Have a Harder Time Getting a Job?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @06:27PM (#46528575)

    Its more about their attitude. There are some solid patterns and just software development knowledge that is great to have and haven't really changed regardless of the technology. I hired a guy at the end of his career (programming for 30 years, he worked with punch cards in college) he said he just wanted to program, he picked up everything easily, contributed to design and implementation with some JPA 2.0 db interfaces from an AngularJS front end. Unit testing, in memory databases and all sorts of stuff.

    I have found that age doesn't matter, if you are going to be a stick in the mud and in my day type of person, I will never hire or want to work with you.

    Some technology and syntax change...good designs and ability to learn and adapt don't.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @06:36PM (#46528655)
    The other advantage 20-year-olds have is they can give their life to the company. They don't care about having to work 60-hour weeks as long as there is foosball and free pizza. Why go home when 'work' is cool?

    A 40 year old often has a spouse, kid or two and a dog they might like to take for a walk. They don't care about BS phrases like "Work hard play hard!"
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @06:39PM (#46528683) Journal

    Boy I remember the old days of writing web CGI apps in C, way back in the 1990s. People would look at me like I was insane if I were to suggest writing web apps in a language that compiles to machine code. There seems to be a whole industry dedicated to declaring native apps an evil that must be extinguished.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @06:41PM (#46528705)

    There are certainly older programmers who can produce much better software at faster rates than their younger counterparts, but it is difficult to prove and requires the employer to take a greater risk in hiring you.

    It isn't difficult at all. At my company, an "older programmer" solved a bug in code written by a younger fella by introducing a function that we all never knew about. This fella refactored code, cleaned up the mess we had in our AIX/DB2 system and saved my company lots of cash by single handedly writing code that verified that our data migration to PostgreSQL from the mentioned DB2 system was worthwhile.

    Specifically, he wrote code that printed cheques the way we wanted (Numbers to words), in about 1/4 of the lines of code we had. All this by employing functions we never knew existed. Nothing can beat knowledge/experience. Nothing!

  • Re:False premise (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @07:47PM (#46529293)

    You vastly overestimate how much effort it takes to learn a language, at least for somebody who already knows a similar one. As a "young programmer," I started a job at a company using mostly VB.net a few months ago. I had a decent amount of experience with Java, a tiny bit with C#, and more experience with less-related things like C and Matlab. The last time I looked at anything VB-like was VB 6 in elementary school.

    You know how long it took me to start being productive in VB.net? 30 seconds, maybe less. OMG, I've got to declare variables as "dim x as whatever" instead of "whatever x;" -- whoop-de-fucking-do! Yes, I've had to look up syntax occasionally (e.g. figuring out how VB.net maps concepts like C#'s ref and out), but as a percentage of my time it's negligible.

    Now, if you're asking somebody to switch from Lisp to Smalltalk or something, then yeah, there's going to be a learning curve. But if a Java programmer can't hit the ground running with C# or VB.net then they were never competent at Java either (or vice-versa).

    The biggest part of starting any new programming job is not going to be learning the language, API, or any tools; it's going to be learning the company's codebase -- something which job candidate is ever going to have preexisting experience in, unless the company is rehiring somebody who worked there before!

  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @07:47PM (#46529295) Journal

    Reach up and touch that glass ceiling. Caress it. Press your face up against it.

    Then realize that you are putting it there.

    I hate office politics and nonsense myself. I also realized that I was never going to make the salary that I wanted if I remained a sysadmin / engineer. Now I manage a team of DevOps guys and mentor their professional development. My goal is to give everyone of them the experience and potential to operate at my level, either when I move up, or when they get tired of working for me / the company and want to go somewhere else.

    If you have not read The 48 Laws of Power, I highly suggest it. There is a quote in there, "Either you are playing the game, or you are a pawn in it." It is a harsh view of reality, but it is also inescapable. Either you take control of your own career and move up, or you end up reporting to people who are more ambitious than you are. In my situation, I had to do it out of self preservation. I cannot work for incompetent people, it drives me insane. So I out perform them, make sure that everyone sees what my contributions are, and accept the fact that I cannot succeed on my own.

    That last piece is the most important. At the end of the day, you can only do so much as an individual. There is only so much that a single person can contribute to the organization. To be truly valuable, you have to be able to guide others and help a team collaborate to achieve a goal. As a programmer, if your code is so damn good that it belongs in a textbook, then you should be mentoring other programmers and helping them become better at what they do. If you are so fed up with politics and nonsense, you owe it to your organization to show them how to get things done, without resorting to all of that nonsense. Anybody can gripe about how things suck. Very few can provide alternatives.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @09:48PM (#46530245)

    That is what people think in theory. In reality, the H-Bs that end up here are people who will be more than happy to work at $16,000 a year, and be absolute newbies at the job site.

    The good talent stay home. The H-1Bs coming to US shores are basically the 2000s analog of strikebreakers and scab workers.

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