4 Replies - 359 Views - Last Post: 30 January 2017 - 01:49 PM

#1 Wonkas_Willy   User is offline

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Am I too old for this?

Posted 29 January 2017 - 01:16 PM

I've contemplated a possible career change but, at 31 and being out of touch with technology for at least 10+ years, I'm almost certain I wouldn't make it very far at my current age. After high school (2002), I did take many IT electives in college (networking and programming to name a few) because I thought the IT field was where my "passion" was, specifically programming. I excelled pretty quickly with the networking classes and the VB class, not so much the C++ class. That class had students already in the field and the instructor decided to teach the class on their level and not on an introductory level, but I digress.. Anyways, without getting too deep, I never pursued a career in IT. I've held many different jobs over the years and somehow I ended up in the HVAC trade and have been doing it for 7 years now.. Ironically, we do a lot of work in data centers and IT rooms =\ For whatever reason though, I recently started becoming interested in the one and only thing I was ever interested in as a "youngin" and that was programming.

So with all that out of the way, my question would be this. Would it be a waste of time if I wanted to try and learn programming on my own? Ultimately, there may be no real benefit for me to learn how to read and write code if there is nothing at the end of the tunnel waiting for me career wise but, is it something worth picking up as a hobby, so to speak? It might be a dumb question but I thought I'd get the opinions of those that are more familiar within this field.

Thanks in advance

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#2 andrewsw   User is online

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Re: Am I too old for this?

Posted 29 January 2017 - 01:45 PM

31?! Where did you invent the idea that this is too old? There seems to be this myth from somewhere that programming is for kids of 20, 21-years of age, sitting around playing games (and getting paid for it?), eating Mars bars and drinking Pepsi's. What happens when they reach 30? This isn't Logan's Run (a film released before you where born).
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#3 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Am I too old for this?

Posted 29 January 2017 - 01:46 PM

Quote

Would it be a waste of time if I wanted to try and learn programming on my own?

No, never.
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#4 jon.kiparsky   User is online

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Re: Am I too old for this?

Posted 29 January 2017 - 04:55 PM

Personally, I think experience outside of the programming world is a big plus for a junior developer. I typically find that the new graduate knows a lot of tools and thinks they know a lot about programming, while the person who's reinventing herself has a more honest assessment of their skills and deficiencies, and is therefore able to progress a lot more and is more fun to work with. I've got a trombonist/brass technician and a PhD-bearing archaeologist working as junior developers on my team right now, and they're both a lot of fun to work with. Neither of them has a lot of programming experience, but they're willing to ask for help and they're very good at benefitting from it.
Also, it's worth pointing out that experience in the real world often gives people a leg up when it comes to dealing with the non-programming parts of a programming job - stuff like getting meetings to run smoothly, coming to consensus, working with stakeholders, and so forth are a lot easier for someone who's been out in the world. I would be willing to bet that your experience working in HVAC has given you skills that you'll find useful as you become a programmer.

However, it's important to understand that making yourself into a shovel-ready junior developer is a lot of work, especially if you're holding down a full-time day job. You can certainly learn a lot through reading and self-guided study, but at the end of the day, you'll make better progress if you can get into a room with a good teacher who can look at your work and figure out what it is that you're missing and help you understand it. If there's a community college in your area that has a computer science program, I strongly recommend that you at least consider taking some fundamental courses there, to help you get started on the right foot.
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#5 Wonkas_Willy   User is offline

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Re: Am I too old for this?

Posted 30 January 2017 - 01:49 PM

View Postandrewsw, on 29 January 2017 - 01:45 PM, said:

31?! Where did you invent the idea that this is too old? There seems to be this myth from somewhere that programming is for kids of 20, 21-years of age, sitting around playing games (and getting paid for it?), eating Mars bars and drinking Pepsi's. What happens when they reach 30? This isn't Logan's Run (a film released before you where born).


I didn't mean for it to sound like that. It was more about the idea of possibly changing careers at my age and the time that was required to learn enough of it to start working within the field. Certain fields are definitely more forgiving than others. The skilled trades for example don't require much time before you get thrown out on your own and it isn't uncommon to find old, young, and everyone in between signing up. Becoming a surgeon, however, would definitely not be in my favor although it's not impossible to do. I wasn't sure how it would be in the IT field, specifically programming.


View Postjon.kiparsky, on 29 January 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

Personally, I think experience outside of the programming world is a big plus for a junior developer. I typically find that the new graduate knows a lot of tools and thinks they know a lot about programming, while the person who's reinventing herself has a more honest assessment of their skills and deficiencies, and is therefore able to progress a lot more and is more fun to work with. I've got a trombonist/brass technician and a PhD-bearing archaeologist working as junior developers on my team right now, and they're both a lot of fun to work with. Neither of them has a lot of programming experience, but they're willing to ask for help and they're very good at benefitting from it.
Also, it's worth pointing out that experience in the real world often gives people a leg up when it comes to dealing with the non-programming parts of a programming job - stuff like getting meetings to run smoothly, coming to consensus, working with stakeholders, and so forth are a lot easier for someone who's been out in the world. I would be willing to bet that your experience working in HVAC has given you skills that you'll find useful as you become a programmer.

However, it's important to understand that making yourself into a shovel-ready junior developer is a lot of work, especially if you're holding down a full-time day job. You can certainly learn a lot through reading and self-guided study, but at the end of the day, you'll make better progress if you can get into a room with a good teacher who can look at your work and figure out what it is that you're missing and help you understand it. If there's a community college in your area that has a computer science program, I strongly recommend that you at least consider taking some fundamental courses there, to help you get started on the right foot.


Well, that's definitely good to know! It's refreshing to hear about your experience with those that are coming into the field from non IT related fields. For now, I'll probably stick to videos and reading books on my own time until I can figure out a way to sign up for some classes that work around my schedule and I'll just have to see how it goes from there.

Thanks guys
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