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Programming Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer? 274

First time accepted submitter bdrasin (17319) writes "I've had a series of interviews with a late-term startup (approx. 300 employees) and I think there is a good chance they will make me an offer. The technology is great, my skills and interests are a good fit for the position, I think the company has a promising future, and I like they team. Frankly I'm damn excited about it, more so than for any job in my career. However, I'm worried about what could euphemistically be called 'cultural' issues. I'm a few years over 40, with a wife and kids, and all of the engineers at the company seem to be at least 10 years younger than I am. Being at the company's office gives me a distinct old guy at the club feeling. I don't think the overall number of hours the team works is more than I could handle, but the team does a lot of young-single-guy-at-a-startup group activities (rent-a-limo-and-go-clubbing night, weekends in Tahoe, Burning Man, in-office happy hour) that I wouldn't want or be able to participate in; I need to be home with my family for dinner most nights and weekends and so on. I'm wondering if anyone else has had the experience of working at a startup with, or as, an older programmer, and how it worked out?"
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Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

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  • by Sarius64 ( 880298 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @03:59PM (#46914711)
    Certainly Burning Man attendance wouldn't be a logical employee requirement. More like a law suit waiting to happen.
  • by minkie ( 814488 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @04:04PM (#46914751)

    I'm 55. 4 years ago, I left a good paying job at a Fortune-100 cube farm (where I was miserable) and went with a startup (where I'm having fun again). Best decision I ever made. I'm the oldest person in the company. Many of the people I work with are half my age. It all works just fine. Get over it. You're there to do a job, not be a frat buddy. If you don't want to go clubbing with the guys after work, don't go clubbing.

    On the other hand, go into it with your eyes open. Startups are not the most financially stable place to work. Before I took this job, I discussed it with my wife. We've got no kids, no debt, and enough in the bank that if the startup went bust in 6 months (as, statistically, startups are likely to do), we'd still be OK. I would be more worried if I had kids to support, and loss of a paycheck might mean missing a mortgage or car payment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @04:25PM (#46914885)

    Yeah, first 2 -4 weeks is the honeymoon. Everybody figuring out what to do, they're exited - 'Yeah! We're in a start up!", people are dreaming of sotck options and retiring early, ....

    The about a month, management says, "OK! There's a trade show coming up and we need our product in THAT show THEN! It's in 10 weeks!"

    At first, everyone is like we're badass engineers! We can do it!"

    So, everyone is working 12-18 hour days, weekends, some contractors are brought it...and you barely make it - or you have a prototype.

    Then, just when you are about to catch up on your sleep, another dealine like that.

    Then another ....

    After about 6 months to a year, you are then informed of a "transaction".

    You are then out the door, no stock or options.

    My mistake. I took 6 months off to recoup. Unfortunately, taking time off in this field is a death sentence to your career.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @05:07PM (#46915113)

    Exactly. It's not like Zuckerberg coded facebook himself. He stole it of someone else. Entirely different skillset already.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @06:03PM (#46915353)

    There is very little in common between software development and company development.

    Yup, and "age" has nothing to do with either, experience does. If you work as a programmer, then as you age you should get better. But not because you are older, but because you are more experienced. I am an old guy (mid-fifties) and on my fifth startup. One was a clear success, the current one has been partially successful, and the other three were complete failures. I learned much more from the failures. The first was when I was when I was thirty, and I have worked at startups ever since. My situation is different in a number of ways: I was on the founding team every time, and my wife is more of a workaholic than me, so I am under no pressure on that. The biggest risk with a startup is usually financial, but if this company already has 300 employees, they either have plenty of funding or solid revenues. Your gray hair can be a significant asset to a startup. Investors like to see some adult supervision, so you should try to take on the role of the wise old veteran when you meet with them. Don't worry about the "social activities". If you pull your weight at work, the twenty-somethings aren't going to care if you go snowboarding with them.

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