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Does Age Really Matter?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the it's-all-about-the-experience dept.

542

ageless asks: "At my current job, age seems to be a major factor when it comes to listening to what I have to say and believing that what I say is true. I've done so many different things, like filling bosses' requests to build an online app that does something complex in a short time, building and maintaining servers and security, and act as a consultant for authentication code and security on various platforms. Yet, none of them respect me because I'm still in school and because I'm young. It's very frustrating. Does anyone else see this as a problem? Does anyone else have this problem?" I think it all should boil down to experience, however many people mistakenly believe that experience is proportional to age. This belief is faulty, however, when you consider that tomorrow's computer professionals start gaining experience in their teens, not in their twenties or thirties.

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542 comments

This works both ways (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#448709)

Just ask anyone over 30 working for a small startup. Just because I don't know the names of the members of the latest crappy rock band doesn't mean I don't know shit about the Internet.

the pitfalls of youth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#448711)

While I am in total agreement that age should not matter, looking back I realize I often thought my self more mature/knowledgable/experienced than perhaps I really was. It is not so much that I couldn't do what I thought I could (I did), but rather I now understand many things I didn't even know existed. I have a sneaking suspicion that often when older person acts in this manner it is because of how they remember themselves. Since it is impossible to force respect out of people, somtimes it is just a matter of proving (not through computer skilles), but rather social skills that you are trustable/respectable. Don't forget, half the time the person you are talking to has no understanding of what you do. If that person is under the impression that any 'teenager/tweenager' can do your job, then getting respect will be even that harder to gain.

I have and do experience this daily... (1)

Coventry (3779) | more than 13 years ago | (#448728)

I've even gotten to the point where I refuse to state my age when dealing with my employeer and/or recruiters.

(luckily for me I started to bald early, making me look older then I am)

The best thing I've found is that if your current employeer refuses to take your advice, document it for future reference. If they are passing you up for promotion and/or pay increases, leave. Federal law only covers age discrimination for employees over 45 years old...

Leave, and write up a very good resume describing all of the great accomplishments you've done at your current Job, and make sure you leave on a good note so that your Boss(es) will be friendly when recruiters and potential employeers call for recomendations. When they call, they may ask 'Did he do the following things under your employement:', and your boss (unless they lie through thier teeth) will have to say 'yes' to all of the things you did.

Keep in mind, however, that in many states your emplyeer needs no good reason to fire you, and calls for references could start the ball rolling. On the other hand, calls for references can also start the ball rolling on a nice raise...

An impressive resume and a mature attitude when dealing with potential employeers and recruiters will get you a lot farther then grey hair - I know this from experience. I once, after accepting a job through a recruiter, ended up informing them of my age - it was too late to stop anything, and its not like its illegal for me to work - they were quite surprised, and impressed. Experience and ability are your allies - use them to impress. If your age is known before your abilities, people's eyes (and brains) tend to glaze over...

Life (1)

CaptTofu (4109) | more than 13 years ago | (#448731)

It might not seem nice, or may be frustrating, but that's generaly how life works. You'll see it everywhere.

Not only that, some day you get old, and have the problems that come with being "out of date" or "not in touch with the pulse of the youth/technology"

You just have to learn to deal with it and be the best you can.

Just because you started young... (1)

pergamon (4359) | more than 13 years ago | (#448732)

Remember, your older boss could have started getting experience even younger than you did.

I don't actually... (1)

gphat (5647) | more than 13 years ago | (#448737)

I'm 20, and I work for a company that writes software for the Medical Industry... I'm the youngest developer, and the youngest employee in the company. At first, I think I was often overlooked, but as I slowly made a name for myself, I find myself in a very respected situation. From my experience, people my age seem to think we can do it all by ourselves, without anyone else's input. Sure, there are lots of times we probably can, but overall, it gives us a bad rap. I try and play the quiet role, helping out as much as possible, accepting as many challenges as possible, and being a nice guy. Then when the time comes for you to speak, people feel they should listen.

Maybe I'm just lucky to be a company where the demographic puts most everyone in and around the 30s, but either way, I think my tactics have benefited me;)

Age always matters (1)

Elian (10270) | more than 13 years ago | (#448750)

Like it or not, your age will always affect how other people deal with you. Its effects can be minimized by familiarity, as other factors gain importance, but it'll never be meaningless. It's just one of those human things. (Probably a higher-mammal thing, but I'd not want to wager too heavily on that)

Its probably not just your age, though. How you present yourself makes a difference as well, though that's often a factor of how old you are--doing the Voice Of Authority takes some practice, and practice takes time as well. A firm, controlled presentation can haev a big effect on how your ideas are perceived.

Part of an Organization's Culture (1)

rcp (12077) | more than 13 years ago | (#448754)

This comes down to the culture of an organization. I've worked at places where my opinion was discounted because I was young, and I've also worked at places where anyone over fifty was mistrusted. Some organization value experience over ability, others seem to believe that experience with old technology isn't relevant (perhaps missing associated ability).

Myself, I'm a big believer in meritocracy and rewarding individual ability and results (regardless of age, sex, ethnicity and sexual or editor preference). Get yourself into an organization that rewards competence and ability. (Unless you're incompetent).

I used to have the same problem, sort of. (1)

Hollinger (16202) | more than 13 years ago | (#448765)

I worked for my high school during the summers after my Junior and Senior years (1999 and 2000). During my first few weeks, my supervisor really didn't trust me, but I seemed to prove myself after writing a few basic shell scripts to save them many, many man hours. It seems that I just had to prove myself to him (it also helped that the consultants put the same amount of trust in me that they put in my boss's assistant). Another thing that I've found is that many people assume that I'm about eight years older than I really am. You've heard the phrase "dress for success," right? Don't overdo it, but neaten yourself up (tuck in the shirt, shave, etc. I always tried to keep a professional demeanor around my boss, and it worked. We didn't have a dress code, but I always tried to wear business casual my last summer, since I was meeting with cabling contractors, and a consultant while my supervisor and his assistant were at training sessions.

BTW: My supervisor was 55, his assistant was 25, and I was 17 during my last summer.


--
Mike Hollinger

It's not all about age or experience (1)

dmelchio (27732) | more than 13 years ago | (#448780)

Some of it is about maturity. I know a number of smart young people who aren't reliable, and act as though they are in high school (showing up late, etc). It takes more than just intelligence and experience to be taken seriously; you must also act professionally.

It's not just respect... (1)

tenor (29482) | more than 13 years ago | (#448781)

You will also find that you will be PAID according to your age, not your ability. One of the great things about Open Source is that it is a meritocracy: the more you do, the more you are respected, and the more you are consulted. But in the workplace, salary is directly related to your age. You can produce 10 times the work as another senior programmer, but you'll find that you aren't paid as well. Same goes for vacation, by the way.

I'm sure that there are companies where this is not true, but I'm also sure that they are the exception, not the rule.

It all comes down to respect... (1)

russcoon (34224) | more than 13 years ago | (#448784)

What do the people you're working with respect? that's the primary question here. If it's wrinkles, then that's what they'll listen too. If it's technical knowhow, then they'll get over the fact that you look about 12, I know the people I choose to work with do. I'm in a similar situation most of the time, but when you start showing the people you work with that you're a valuable asset and resource, they should swing your way. If they don't, it's time to look for employment elsewhere...if you're as good as you think you are, that is =).
-----------------------
Widgets for the web

Skill sets (1)

petej (36394) | more than 13 years ago | (#448785)

Youngsters tend to be recognized for enthusiasm, hard work, and proficency, but not for people skills.

Oldsters tend to be recognized for proficiency and people skills, but are given lower status than youngsters when it comes to knowing who can pull the all-nighter. (Ask any 40-year-old programmer how secure they feel in their job.)

There is stuff to learn, even from people whom you are sure have nothing to contribute. If nothing else, you can learn how not to treat those around you.

The other important point is to realize that people skills have nothing to do with technical skills. Sometimes those managers are recognizing underdeveloped people skills, rather than failing to recognize technical proficiency.

as a 20 year old systems admin... (1)

nite- (57546) | more than 13 years ago | (#448805)

I'm a senior unix consultant and a pretty large UNIX systems administration consulting company. I have recieved my share of comments about being a baby, a stupid kid, etc, etc. Those comments have all come from client companies though, not my own. My company treats me very well, and respects my opinions/judgement. I must say, I've never run into any problems with other technical people, they're all very accepting of my age, my problems come from project managers and the like. I'm sure its awkward for people in management positions to find people with more experience in "kids" 10 or even 20 years their junior. The best thing I can suggest to remain professional at all times, and dont ever discuss your age with people (particularly people in management positions) who do not need to know.

I feel your pain.. (1)

_marshall (71584) | more than 13 years ago | (#448822)

I recently graduated high school, getting a job in the tech industry is suprisingly easy for anyone that has experience (age and college degree seem to not matter much..). I started programming when I was 13 w/ QBasic and moved on to doing AOL Cracking VB programs when I was 14/15..

After my "destructive teenage" years ended, I started getting interested in C, C++, Perl, and Java.. and nowadays I've been coding solely Java and C++.. It's amazing the amount of experience these older people coming into the industry don't have.. It's really a sad story when you're hailed as one of the best developers at your company (the company I work for has ~100 people), and you're the youngest one there, and don't have a degree. There's a slight contrast though. Everyone here seems to admire my technical skills, but I've never received technical lead on a single project.. it has always gone to the people with more 'seniority' (aka age, not served job time) than I.. I'll admit that my organizational skills aren't the best in the world, but many mission critical tasks are often given to these older people, without even a thought of handing it to me.. I think it's the Project Managers and Corporate Monkeys that only recognize age, and not skill... almost all people that I've met in the in the industry that have an ounce of technical skill judge by actual "skill"..

Maybe there's something we're missing?

-------------------

Respect (1)

RoscoeChicken (73509) | more than 13 years ago | (#448827)

Lack of respect can be due to any number of issues besides age. Our office used to be part of IBM, and despite the fact that all of the heavy lifting is done by graduates of local schools, I've caught the ex-IBM fogeys plotting hiring/promotions based on whether or not an individual attended Big-10/Ivy schools.

It's usually a matter of presentation (1)

porkdog (73787) | more than 13 years ago | (#448828)

In most cases it's how the idea, modification, improvement, what ever is communicated that determines whether or not it will get off the ground. I've proposed improvements to poor security procedures that were shelved because it was not requested by a customer or there was not enough time in the schedule. Then a year later a customer finds the flaw and it immediately becomes a huge issue! Of course it's fixed then. Usually at greater cost and under high pressure. Perhaps if I'd been a prophet of doom and painted a really black picture about the calamity that would arise from this bug then I'd have had a better chance to get it done when I spotted it. Unfortunately I'm not a good prophet of doom.


I'm also pretty poor at politicing for changes like this. It's very hard for me to quantify what would be saved if this were done the right way earlier. Since making the choice means that you take a different fork in the road. Who is to say that fixing the bug earlier didn't save you a lot of pain and suffering later. I guess in the security domain the OpenBSD crew usually gets to have the last laugh when an exploit is found and they post something like - "we fixed that 8 months ago". How much scrambling and wasted effort did their proactive approach save. Impossible to estimate, but I'd rather be in their shoes.


So it's probably a complex mixture of you, your boss, company policy, time, and money that determine if they listen and whether or not they act.

Yes age matters ... (1)

smoondog (85133) | more than 13 years ago | (#448839)

Age absolutely matters. Some people don't realize just how much our professional work environment heirarchy depends on age and seniority. Many academic environments, for example, might assume that the oldest and most senior member (often a professor) is the most experienced and wise. Anyone who has spent anytime in an academic environment knows this not to be the case. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to either wait for the opportunity or find it yourself elsewhere.

-Moondog

Re:not to mention,.. (1)

Aerolith_alpha (85503) | more than 13 years ago | (#448841)

i bet they are modding you down because you are a girl... heh... honestly... either that or they work at your company and are all pissed that you called them 'bitter'--i wonder if 'BITTER OLD MEN' would be more fitting?


mov ax, 13h
int 10h

I still have that problem somtimes (1)

Suicyco (88284) | more than 13 years ago | (#448845)

I just turned 30 and still find my age to be a problem. I have 20 years experience writting software and currently do contract work for most of the largest engineering firms in the world. In my circle of peers I am considered the foremost expert in my field, but I still run across managers or engineers who think I'm just some punk kid who doesn't understand what they are trying to accomplish. Of course when I not only excel but far exceed their expectations their attitude changes, but its that way in every company, and since these are large companies it happens more often then I'd like. But all in all its just annoying, I still command the money I demand per my experience and as I am the leading developer in my field its not much of a damper. When I was 22 I had this problem on a much more massive scale, I was the chief developer for a semi-large company and they still referred to me as kiddo and I had to leave the company because they wouldn't pay me what my experience and skills demanded. Somebody else did :-)

Experience DOES count for something (1)

El (94934) | more than 13 years ago | (#448852)

In the software industry, I've never seen an opinion discounted solely because of age. However, experience and track record does mean a lot. After you've pulled a rabbit out of a hat a few times and brought impossible projects in on schedule with few bugs, believe me, they will listen to you.

What about the other extreme? (1)

howly (96368) | more than 13 years ago | (#448855)

What about people becoming "too old" for their particular fields?

been there. (1)

crovax (98121) | more than 13 years ago | (#448858)

This is not as bad as your situation but:
When I worked at a local ISP I was a level 1 tech who did office work (trash duty). I could have done web design, or other such things worth my paycheck, but because I was only 18 and still in high school I was never even considered.

--
Spelling by m-w.com [m-w.com] .

Under 40 == too young, Over 40 == too old (1)

TheCeltic (102319) | more than 13 years ago | (#448868)

Yes, I experience the same problems.. I'm just happy that I'm not over 40 because then it becomes difficult to find a job. At least they will hire me (at 32) even if they don't listen to my advice. Fun problem we have with our current system...

age discrimination (1)

jspectre (102549) | more than 13 years ago | (#448869)

it's called age discrimination and it's more and more frequent. in some states it is illegal and a valid ground for a lawsuit when you're looked over for things like promotions and such. though you would have to prove your case.

don't think being older is necessarily better. many companies hire younger employees over older ones because they'll work cheaper, require less benefits, work longer hours (if they don't have a family).

Not a problem for me (1)

sheriff_p (138609) | more than 13 years ago | (#448904)

I find this not to be a problem, and I'm only 17. The trick is to be right, and to always be right. If people aren't taking you seriously, then talk to them about it.

As long as you're right, then anyone who ignores you is wrong, and, if they're wrong, their managers will get upset at them.

On a final note, anyone making comments like "Go Play with Your GI JOES" will probably get frustrated when their box is rooted, and all they know of it is that when they type 'pico', 'vi/emacs' gets run instead... :)

It all depends (1)

programic (139404) | more than 13 years ago | (#448905)

I think it boils down to the people making the judgement.

When I was in college I worked a student job as a programmer on campus next to full-time, salaried employees. Most of the people I worked with respected me for the work I had accomplished and the capabilities I had. They listened to my ideas and I felt I was an equal part of the team.

Occasionally, I had to work with other campus employees (either getting things from them, or getting them to do something). I can remember several phone calls: after finding the person I wanted to talk to and explaining the premise of my call, the first thing I heard was, "is this a student?" I knew what they were getting at but could never understand how such a question would help them to solve the problem at hand.

The implication is that there will always be people who use age as a way to guage experience. They will either hit or miss. Fortunately, there are also those who will wait to make a judgement based on some rational criteria.

Re:Yes, it does matter. (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 13 years ago | (#448912)

this is true-
So many people piss and moan about their careers- after I go home, I can hardly remember where I go to work. If they are paying you fairly and you are not being brutalized, than forgetaboutit. Who cares what your co-workers think about you.

Putting in your time (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 13 years ago | (#448924)

While this varies from company to company, for the most part, the "Upper Management" has put in a lot of time and a lot of effort for the company to get where it is. I'm sure they will come to you for questions in a technical matter, but when it comes to running a business, younger people (including myself) are better served to sit at the table and pay attention, listen, and offer advice when asked an opinion. The more you learn at the meeting table, the more you will have to offer. In all honesty, in most situations, someone who is 17-30 will not have the experience on the business end of the company to offer great advice. Just my opinon, i could be wrong.

An interesting trend with techie interaction (1)

Lizard_King (149713) | more than 13 years ago | (#448925)

I have seen (in the field) instances where people actually look for the stereotypical geek/hacker/nerdy/kid for a technical job. They start to expect that this stereotype offers the most knowledge in technology these days. I have seen people that don't trust IT guys in suits, and would rather work with a kid wearing a "I read your email" t-shirt. On more than one engagement I have worked on over the years, I purposely dressed down (jeans, sneaks, t-shirt) to make the person who hired me feel more comfortable.

Contracting (1)

em_tasol (166929) | more than 13 years ago | (#448953)

If your skills are right up there like you've said, I would venture to say that your best bet will be to create your own company and contract your services. I think you'll find the tone changes a whole lot when people are paying for specific projects to be completed and you're able to blitz the other firms who have done work for the company in the past.

If you're just an employee, you'll almost never get the respect due to you because too many companies see their IT staff more as the "hired help" than highly qualified professionals.

I'm almost thirty years old, and with over six years experience in the industry but no formal qualifications, I'm actually finding it hard to compete in the job market with the teenagers and just-twenty-somethings who have been toying with systems and programming for as long as I have, and are leaving high school with more experience and more skills than I have now.

The advantage they have over me is that they usually don't have a wife and two kids to support, and so will work for less than I could afford to, and so are more attractive to an employer from that perspective.

This difficulty that I'm having is a good thing - it's a wake up call to me to get certified, get qualified, get any piece of paper that I can wave in the air to get a little bit in front of these "kids", because if you don't have a Piece Of Paper (tm), it can be difficult.

More power to ya though, mate! Get out there and use all the skills you have to the best of your abilities! Get in there early and go hard so when you're my age and trying to support the wife and two kids you've done most of the hard work already and it's not such an issue!

Cheers!

Re:Well.... (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#448955)

I agree with this, and allow me to add to this. With experience in the workforce, you gain experience on how to present your solutions. There are techniques on making it appear that your boss came up with your idea. That way your idea will take shape. But are you willing to allow your boss to take the credit for the idea?
You see, usually the problem is that people want credit, not their solution solved because it is good for the company. You may not fall into this category, but it is a very typical problem. If you have the frame of mind that makes you want your solution to be implemented for the good of the company, and not for the credit of the idea, you'll be a step ahead on getting your solution implemented.

--

Age and Wisdom are Correlated (1)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#448958)

In my youth, I thought I deserved more respect, but the lessons taught by time have impressed me that there are many many things that youth doesn't yet understand. Wisdom, worldliness, experience come only with time. And you can't see yourself as other, more experienced older farts can. It is not to discount the value that younger workers have; they have new knowledge, but they don't have any old knowledge, i.e., wisdom/experience.

It takes years of discipline and training to acquire this, and nothing else will substitute, so rather than bemoaning what you perceive as a lack of respect... wait, strike that... being pissed at the elders because they don't respect you as much as you think you deserve is exactly what you are supposed to be going through right now...

It's all about the Benjamins (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#448962)

A bright kid can master most of the technologies that run the business world today, and might even land a job working on them at a young age.

But after "paying your dues" you will find that the most important lessons in the business world (be it big corporation or small dot-com startup) only come from years of experience... and what might look like a "no-brainer" solution to a wild-eyed Young Turk will often present a lot of real-world, non-tech related issues to a seasoned member of the Old Guard.

In other words, no matter how many servers you build or databases you have gotten your hands dirty with, your opinion will "matter" a lot more when you have spent a few years learning the business culture. When you have a full grasp of the money side and people side of the corporate landscape, your input on the tech side of issues will carry a lot more weight.

Sorry, but there are no shortcuts to credibility.

If you don't like it, and are so sure that you know better, go start a company (or two). Then, if you succeed, you can retire and not worry about what people think. Even if you fail, you will re-enter the workforce with the wisdom that can only come from clocking IRL business experience.

Patience (1)

zTTTz (176815) | more than 13 years ago | (#448965)

This really boils down to patience on your part. It hurts when you look at your peers and your superiors and it is blantly obviously that you are far more intelligent and skilled than they. But as far as they see it, you will work for them and do what they want because they know the alternative is that you could give up your glorious $12/hr out of frustration and work at Taco Hell for $6.25/hr. Patiently overcome that. Build job secuirty. If your coherts are all MCSEs, push and push and push to install a linux web server or to do the things they cannot do. If the company relies on you and truly can not get by without you (this doesn't mean taking an twice as long as you to install another copy of NT), i.e. their infrastructure could collapse without your creative lack of documentation, then you are powerless. For if you are easily replaceable by another local teen found in the same way as you, shut your trap and deal with it.
If you are in a big company or intend to work in big companies for the rest of your life, I suggest you get used to it now.
My story goes, "I was two days past 18, my CS teacher in HS asked a friend who owned a small computer company if they needed any interns and thus began my quest. Second semester my sophmore year of college I took a full internship and my pay when from $12 to $21/hr. Now I'm excepted as more permanent and full time and demand such a salary. I get out of school and come work full time (turned 22 yesterday) and I'm making just under 60k."
Use patience, don't get too arogant, and build job security, then what you say and do WILL matter.

Get used to it (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 13 years ago | (#448968)

Its not specifically age related

Its related to capability; if you really understand what you are doing you will ALWAYS be ignored, no matter your age.

Get a career that enables you to benefit from your own native talent, not dependent on someone else's view of you.

Otherwise, prepare to fight the rest of your life for what you know is right.

Age of other employees (1)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 13 years ago | (#448975)

The age of your peers (at the office) will have an effect, as well as your boss's age as mentioned previously.

I'm 22 and still in college. I am one of the younger guys in the office, but I probably have the most wide-ranging knowledge of topics... so I'm the first one asked when someone wants a quick answer. My age is less of an issue, though, because my boss specifically hires younger employees.

Another consideration is your understanding of businesses and how they operate (or, "understanding management"). Do you speak up for yourself when you succeed at a project? Sometimes you need to make a bit of noise even if it was a small project. Not too much though, or people will dislike you; but make sure you take full credit for your successes.

You also need to realize your position in the company. If you're the janitor, it's unlikely that the CEO is going to want to hear your opinions on whether or not they should expand production in Southern California. If you're as smart as I'm sure you are, you shouldn't be in that janitorial position... when you're too smart for your job, it hurts you and it hurts the company. Maybe you need a promotion, a transfer to another division, or a new job.

If you can get a job somewhere else where people will respect what you have to say, you might as well go for it. You're young and you can afford to take risks like starting a new job just because you don't like where you're working.

If you find a new job, you can sit down with your boss and flat out tell him/her that you enjoy your current job, but don't feel your opinions are respected. You are prepared to leave this job and go to XYZ company. See what they say. If they tell you to get lost you probably didn't want to work there anyway...

How you are perceived depends on many things (1)

gscott (187733) | more than 13 years ago | (#448976)

I am 28 and look and dress like I am about 20, mostly becuase I can at my job. However, when I need to create a certain impression on someone, I dress to create the effect that I am older. Pretty easy to do. I have worked with some people who were as young as 17 but IN THEIR JOB carried themselves as if they were 30 or older. However, outside of that, they seemed to be 17 again. All depends on how you choose to act, dress, and behave. You can create the impression of age and maturity if you are willing to work at it.

I think it does matter (1)

PSUdaemon (204822) | more than 13 years ago | (#448996)

It's probably more a matter of experience. The old folks know you have the inteligence, but experience is a big factor. They like it without the learning curve.

Experience comes with age (1)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#449001)

"I think it all should boil down to experience..."

The amount of experience one has is directly related to the age of that person. You're in college which means you're most likely >22 years old. You've probably got a couple of years of higher education and a couple of years of on-the-job experience. Most older people in your workplace most likely have completed their degree and 5+ years of IT/programming experience. You're not being limited because of your age, but because you don't have as much experience as older people in your workplace. You also probably like sitting around in yo' low-rider drinkin 40's with some bitches 'n' ho's.

Just my .02 cents.

Re:What about the other extreme? (1)

Starbreeze (209787) | more than 13 years ago | (#449002)

You're only too old if you quit keeping up with the growth of the field. I had a older boss who was still running OS/2 because hes stubborn and hates Microsoft but doesn't know unix and didn't want to learn. However, theres an old d00d working here who has surprised the hell out of me with his knowledge. When I say old i meant hes over 50. The IT field is constantly growing. There's many younger people involved because our generation grew up with the technology, whereas our parents didn't.

Not a new situation, actually (1)

cprael (215426) | more than 13 years ago | (#449014)

This is something that's been around as a situation for >20 years. In the "I remember when" category, I ran into similar problems back in the early/mid 80s, for similar reasons. The fact that I was proven right is entirely beside the point.

A few lessons from way-back-then, though:

  • Preparedness. If you're going to go in and argue to change something, esp. something significant, make sure you have all yours ducks in a line, documentation for each duck, and you're prepared for all of the "what about this" questions.
  • Credibility: You're going to have a credibility issue because of your age. Deal with it. If you act like a pro, and operate like a pro, that will get you all the credibility you need. If you whine about it, you'll wipe what little credibility you have right off the board.
  • Experience _does_ matter: If you've been programming for two years, I don't care if you're 18 (and have a chip on your shoulder about how long you've been at it) or 25. You're still a junior coder. The flip side? Those not-quite-flipping-burgers jobs really do come in handy down the road. I can speak about warehouse operations because I ran one for 15 months while I was in HS. Hardware testing/dev.? Yep, been there. Customer service? Driven that desk.
  • Breadth is useful too, but only once you've got a certain amount of depth under your belt: Being broadly experienced can be _very_ handy. Being able to integrate "but this works well with that, but not over there", and come up with a solution out of a bunch of not-related parts is an incredibly handy skill. But you need some depth to that, too. If you know enough-to-get-in-trouble about a number of things, it exponentially increases your ability to screw things up seriously.
  • Remember that managers/etc. are used to looking at "normal" people: If you're someone who's really exceptional, it takes folks a while to deal with that - and they _never_ really get comfortable with the situation. Find your coping mechanisms.
  • Don't assume the world will hand you everything on a platter within 5 years of entering the industry. I've been geeking for better than 20 years. It takes a while for the rewards to show up. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride. You only get to take it once, and it changes you at every step of the way.

Anyway, enough old-fogginess.

Intereting.. (1)

WndrBr3d (219963) | more than 13 years ago | (#449021)

I'm a 19 year old programmer, the company I'm with hired me right out of High School. My big problem is that every top level exec. at the company treats me like I'm their son.

It gets annoying, and when I do something wrong, they talk to me like I'm an offspring of theirs. I think it's COMPLETELY unprofessional, but hey.. I need the work expierence.

Not to fear (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#449028)

No matter how old or young the world may see you, we're all 17-year-old dorks on the inside! :-)

--

To the contrary (1)

tmark (230091) | more than 13 years ago | (#449031)

In my experience, being young can actually be a huge advantage. Many people actually want and expect younger kids to be wizards, and I have seen much management crow about the "young" star in their stable. Tech companies go out of their way to make for themselves a young hip image.

And if you read magazines like Business 2.0 and Wired and Red Herring, etc., it's clear that the business press, too, worships at the temple of the cult of youth. So I have not really seen situations where youth is a significant disadvantage, assuming, of course, that the young person is qualified. And of course, while not always true, the latter is often the kicker...we should expect younger people to be less qualified and be pleasantly surprised when they are not.

Firsthand Experience (1)

aforsman (234429) | more than 13 years ago | (#449038)

I have been in that same situation for 3 years. CAD drafter at 17, Mech. Engineer at 19, Network Admin at 20. Still having that problem. Another Network Admin here is about 27 but looks young, he also has that problem.

Re:This sounds a little familiar. (1)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 13 years ago | (#449039)

I do far more than what I ever thought I possibly could, being the only computer person working in the company, yet the only things I ever hear about from my 'superiors' are the things that I haven't accomplished.

I think that's got less to do with your age than you think. It's probably much more related to being the only "computer person" at your company.

If you think management is clueless at tech companies, try being a developer or sysadmin for, oh, say, a construction company. Might as well just stick your head in the toilet and flush repeatedly.

I've had no problems (1)

Sealoth (243147) | more than 13 years ago | (#449055)

I left school at 16, and now, at 17, I'm working (programming) in a university research lab. I have to say that I have had a very good experience with the people here, and everyone treats me as an equal, even though I have slightly less computer experience than many of my coworkers, and much less scientific experience. The only problems I've run up against because of my age are the laws - which mean that I can't work with the x-ray diffraction units that we use, or with any hazardous chemicals.
I think if a young person knows his/her stuff, is professional, and works with intelligent, open minded people (A lot to ask, I know), then there will be few issues regarding age.

It's more than just Technical experience (1)

Seinfeld (243496) | more than 13 years ago | (#449057)

If you want to act like Nick Burns, The Company Computer Guy, then go ahead and be "frustrated". There is a lot more to working in the IT profession than just pure technical ability. IT is a service/support function in business. That means that you exist for the sake of other people. If you cannot communicate them properly, you cannot provide them what they need. Likewise, managing projects is a human activity. Most people who are excellent at technical things are much slower learners at interpersonal skills, and are very likely to discount them as being important, especially compared to "hard" skills.

You may be the tech guru that you think you are, but your post shows that you have a lack of understanding of the people to whom you are responsible. You cannot see it from their point of view -- in your mind, they must conform to you. Any salesman worth his salt will tell you that you will not sell vacuum cleaner one with that attitude. And you're trying to sell yourself -- that is what this is about, really. People are not computer programs.
-----------

Lack of respect (1)

nicholasperez (249531) | more than 13 years ago | (#449063)

What the generation before us(Baby Boomers) doesn't understand is that we kids that grew up in the eighties and nineties have really grown up with this technology. There is no wisdom involved besides experience. Raw intelligence is so readily available now that all it takes is a little research ( an hour or two ) and you can accomplish anything by following a how-to, man or info page. That is a strange concept to our parents. What we have to remember is that we need to respect those older than us, because someday we will be in their shoes and our next generation will be ten times as smart as us.

___________
I don't care what it looks like, it WORKS doesn't it!?!

Re:age discrimination (1)

caite (252284) | more than 13 years ago | (#449065)

don't think being older is necessarily better. many companies hire younger employees over older ones

I found that to be true at my last job. The web design team refused to listen to any of the comments from the QA people over 20. The discrimination works both ways.

You know there's a problem with the font size when 3 18-year old QA people put their faces 3 inches from the screen and squint. For a long time during the testing, I just thought my screen was dirty.

Some places put so high a value on "fresh ideas" that they neglect experience entirely. It would be best if people were given opportunities before they were judged, and if we could let go of our prejudices from past experience. I don't think I can, and I won't hire a QA person to test web sites unless the person wears glasses and knows what it's like to not be able to see!

Children's rights (1)

DaLinuxFreak (252942) | more than 13 years ago | (#449066)

This is something caused by a lot of things. People won't hire you if you are under 20, I'm 15, so even the places that don't descriminate against age won't hire :-(

It's a whole Idea caused by the lack of childrens rights, it starts with children getting no form of representation, Parents should get more votes if they have more children.

Why? because I'm sure it happens everywhere similarly, down in florida the Motorcylclists don't have to wear helmets because they are adults, but kids riding bikes have to wear them! how idiotic.

Younger politions. Age doesn't ever definatly bring experience, and it shows, we need to cut that junk about not being president until you are 35, it's stupid. You can't get on the ballot automatically anyway, so why descrimiate against kids even? if the nation thinks a 12 year old can run the country he ought to be able to be elected.

Abortion? it should be illegal, it infers that women have more rights then men, and children. Why should only women be allowed to kill babies? LET THE KID CHOOSE!!

I think we will find this phase out, as we, the geek generation gets older and we respect people younger than ourselves (My 2 year old brother likes afterstep) :-)

Yes, it does matter. (1)

FatHogByTheAss (257292) | more than 13 years ago | (#449070)

It's not that you're young, it's that you're still in school. We generaly don't hire engineers right out of school, as they tend to suffer from being so smart, you can't teach them anything.

Experience shows when you don't complain about it.

--

No more than size does... (1)

ceesco (259588) | more than 13 years ago | (#449073)

But seriously, I was a Network Engineer on a site when the PM was fired. Being the only other full employee of my company (the rest were subcontractors), I got the nod for interim PM. Bear in mind, I was 23 at the time. I will say that I had no problem telling helldesk people twice my age that they should get moving and close some calls. And they had no problem listening. It all comes down to respect. If you act like a punk-ass 23-year-old arrogant bitch, your co-workers will treat you as such. If you earn their respect by doing your job well, they are much more likely to respond to you in turn.

This sounds a little familiar. (1)

Faulty Dreamer (259659) | more than 13 years ago | (#449077)

This reminds me of the previous slashdot article about how we now have scientific proof that kids are stupid.

But, let's face it. Nobody is going to respect you that is older than you. It just doesn't happen. Unless of course, you happen to be lucky enough to know someone that was so abused when they were younger that they respect you because you are young.

I'm currently in a very similar position to yours. I do far more than what I ever thought I possibly could, being the only computer person working in the company, yet the only things I ever hear about from my 'superiors' are the things that I haven't accomplished. It would just be too much for them to ever remark on what has been accomplished. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people that's always begging for an ass-kissing from my bosses, but it would be nice if when I gave them something they've been asking for I get something along the lines of a thank you. Know what I got told the last time I completed a development project for the boss?

So, why haven't you done that other thing I asked you to do?

Thanks asshole.

Pardon the anger. I'm going job searching.

Poor Management and Company Culture (1)

tethal91 (263165) | more than 13 years ago | (#449088)

Management sets the tone. Good managers and a strong sense of culture make all the difference. At my company, a big telecommunications carrier, people in their thirties seems to be the most respected. A survey last year showed that most people here believed that to get ahead, being a thirtysomething male with a wife and kids was the surest ticket. Certainly none of the managers I've seen are younger than 30, and only the tops execs show much above 50, save for some Bell tag-alongs in supervisory positions. The web team is the lone exception - young/old, male/female seems less relevant. Anonymously send your VPs Tom DeMarco's Peopleware...best book I've seen on how to manage information workers....

I don't have this problem... (1)

foo(foo(foo(bar))) (263786) | more than 13 years ago | (#449089)

This is all about the presentation. I'm 22, less than a year out of school, and I'm already taking on design tasks on par with senior level developers (15+ years of experience).

Make sure you don't act young, that you portray yourself as someone who knows that they're taking about.

In the development world, doing is half the battle. Knowing and dealing with people is much more important in determining how people look at you.

Absolutley (1)

anon757 (265661) | more than 13 years ago | (#449091)

Absolutley age matters. I'm 22 and work for a large company. I have 5 years IT experience, which is more that most of the people I work with. They treat me like the kid and dont take anything I say seriously, and I make less than older people who dont have as much experience as me.

Re:Yes, it sucks. (1)

SoulSeller (303340) | more than 13 years ago | (#449099)

I've had a similar situation -- at 18 I supervised Nationwide Technical support for the # one line of Analog and ISDN Business Modems/Terminal Adapters (Won't name any names, but it's an American company that doesn't make robots).... now at 20 I'm T1/T3 Installation Technician for a Major Telecommunications Carrier. When supervising, I found it easy to gain respect, and took a few snide jabs from older people under me, at the new position, I've had many a torment due to the fact that everyone else is at least 3 years older than me, but, due to my relatively high-ranking position, I've found that people are usually able to get over the age gap ('course, I've been told I look older). It just boils down to this -- eventually, people will recognize how much you know/how good you are. Prove yourself, and they'll give you the respect you deserve.

age in the workplace (1)

Ben Schumin (312122) | more than 13 years ago | (#449122)

Definitely, experience should be the most important thing in deciding exactly how much someone's opinion is worth. The reason a boss would tend to discount your opinion is because age generally implies the experience level you have, within a year or two.

However, if you can prove that you known what you're talking about, the only thing age will matter to is your jealous coworkers. A good employer will quickly see your performance and experience as you do your work.

So my question is - are you really as experienced as you think you are? I notice a lot of Linux users tend to think they are much more experienced than they really are. They seem to have the naive belief that if they've run a Linux box at home, they're completely ready to manage a high availability production environment.

Generally they aren't. So are you really all that experienced, or do you just think you are?

Re:Yes, it sucks. (1)

JohnSmith1138 (313010) | more than 13 years ago | (#449125)

Completely agree. It takes time for anyone to become respected. People have to get to know you and trust has to be built. The good thing is, young people always get older, so if the respect is deserved, it will come. Patience.

Age matters (1)

$eyeB0rq_munqee (313802) | more than 13 years ago | (#449129)

Age generally matters the older you get. Once you have aged, you get older all the time, and since there is no way around this, you will age indefinitely, or until your untimely demise.

Why does age matter? Well, this is quite simple. As we get older, we have the tendecy to get fatter and smellier. Frequenst bathing cannot reverse the odor, and exercise cannot debunk the weight gain. It happens, shit happens, and age happens to be shitty. Just think about it: in the time it took you to read this, you have aged. At this rate, you'll get older and older every second! It staggers the imagination.

And the worst part of aging has got to be sex. Fucking is just not the same when you're ninety-eight years old.

IMO, we should put a moratorium on aging. The punishment for all who age should be death!

existentialist my ass. (1)

$eyeB0rq_munqee (313802) | more than 13 years ago | (#449130)

I was thinking, if we put "The Lover's Arrival" in a pit with the Urban Existentialist, and then threw in a live tiger, would anyone care?

Re:Experience comes with age (1)

$eyeB0rq_munqee (313802) | more than 13 years ago | (#449131)

I am not you. You are not me.

That makes me happy.

If the Lover's Arrival were to Kiss the Blade, would there be a big party?

Be a prick, it worked for me (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#449148)

I started developing software professional when I was 14 and didn't start getting the respect that I deserved until I was 19 or so and started acting like a huge prick. Mind you, you have to throw you attitude around with the knowledge to back it up, but people start taking notice that you know what you're talking about a lot more quickly when you're loud and obnoxious. Then, once you've made your point and the respect is there, you can lay off a little. I'm 28 now, I own a company, and I'm worth about 47 million. Go figure.

thank you.

Re:Yes, it sucks. (2)

locust (6639) | more than 13 years ago | (#449157)

Everyone regardless of age has to prove themselves. There is always someone who doesn't accept that you've put in your time.

--locust

Yes, it sucks. (2)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 13 years ago | (#449163)

At 16, supervised tech support and did a part time programming job. Was told, "Shuttup and go play with your GI Joes" by one of my techs when I reprimanded him.

At 17, I worked for NASA. Had to put up with it there but it was the best place for it.

At 18, I worked for a genetics company. Only my boss had the knowledge of how old I was and I looked older. First time I was treated as equal.

Now, I am 20 and when I speak I am heard because I proved myself. All you have to do is this:
Prove yourself before letting those who don't need to know for you to get hired how old you are. After they know how good you are, your age becomes an assett instead of a liability.

Re:Yes, unfortuantely Age DOES Matter ... (2)

generic (14144) | more than 13 years ago | (#449164)

I am 25 years old also, with 3 years of comp sci college and about 7 years of unix experience. close to 5 years of unix security. I am pulling down 80k a year as a sr unix admin. I am finding that companies are looking for people with real experience and some college background. I have turned down an IT management positon at 90k a year simply because I felt I didnt have enough life experience to be managing people 10-15 years old that I. Plus I like the tech stuff =) I have been treated like crap before, mostly because people were intimidated by what I knew. These people had been working with UNIX for 10-15 years but knew nothing about computer security, Apache, HTML, SMTP, TCP/IP, Perl,C etc.. They were dumb. The smart ones recognized my youth and understanding of newer technologies and wanted to learn from me. I learned from them more refined Solaris skills and they learned from me how to secure a server, setup a web server and start writing in HTML. I think it depends on what type of people you work with.

Guessing experience from age (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 13 years ago | (#449165)

Kind of a no-brainer. Of course age doesn't necessarily indicate experience, but in the absense of other information, it's a reasonable heuristic for making a wild guess: the old stranger has seen more than the young stranger.

If this guy has built stuff for his boss, though, then presumably they've interacted enough that the boss should know better. Of course, maybe the boss does know better, and maybe the boss is right too. ;-)


---

Online it's different (2)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 13 years ago | (#449175)

There's no body language, baby-faced teens or grizzled old veterans, no culture or fashion clashes - just code and design that works or doesn't.

Having done projects both for a company in the real world and collaboratively online, I can safely say I far prefer the latter. No-one really gives a toss about how you look or smell or sound - just as long as you can contribute.

If you can get that attitude to spill over into the office, you'll be much better off. Unfortunately we all still make the same old mistakes and judge books by their covers.

Yes, unfortuantely Age DOES Matter ... (2)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 13 years ago | (#449176)

As a 25-year-old with no college education pulling down 62K/yr., I can tell you that age certainly DOES matter. I've been in the industry for 7 years, and am just NOW going to (community) college. Age counts for a LOT. I've been passed up for management positions, promotions, and raises all due to lack of experience. Never mind that I was clearly a better technician than my peers, as was evidenced by the "stats" they judged us on.

It's a sad fact that Age=Experience in a lot of people's eyes. All I can say to try to help is keep studying/going to school, and work HARD. Eventually, you'll become old enough where they'll start to see your skills and not your DOB.

Please, don't use this as an excuse to slack off though. That just gives others iny your age bracket a bad name as well. Just work hard, harder than the rest if you must, and eventually, you'll be respected.

I should note that I've NEVER had a problem getting interviews or jobs. But once I'm IN a job, and my age comes out, it is hard to advance. Most of my pay increases have come from changing jobs until the last year or two.

Dress for success (2)

Pont (33956) | more than 13 years ago | (#449177)

It's not necessarily how young you are, but how young you seem.

Get a good haircut, wear dockers and a good shirt, lose your sense of humor, never talk about cool music, and people will stop treating you like you're young.

Is it worth it? Not really.

Just focus on being professional and have confidence in your abilities (make sure you do have abilities though). Eventually, (around 23 to 25 in our industry), people will start respecting you.

Somethings seniority is more important to PHBs. (2)

ddstreet (49825) | more than 13 years ago | (#449185)

In many companies, if you don't already have a lot of experience, it takes seniority to really get management to respect you (or even consider you important at all). Remember that management usually has no clue about who does what (exactly) or who is more experienced or skilled that someone else. They cannot measure the skill level needed or used in a particular project, and usually rely on peer review and/or if your project works, and if it was on time. All that takes time to gain a reputation.

So while your peers may know you're good, management won't. After all, do you know any (real) technical people who want to be in management?

I had this problem (2)

vectro (54263) | more than 13 years ago | (#449186)

Not with my employer; I've been lucky enough to have had employers that respected my abilities (and compensated me accordingly).

But, when I was younger, my age was an issue of constant contest. It seemed everywhere I went I was restricted in what I could do. Opening a checking account? Sorry, under 18. Trying to sell an item on ebay? Sorry, ebay users must be over 18. Trying to buy something online? Sorry, we only take credit cards and you can't get one. I couldn't even manage my own stocks! And when I did get my driver's license, I had to have a paren't signature.

I was fortunate to have had a parent who would assist me in these endeavours; My dad would let me use his card and I would reimburse him. But the feeling of having to check with someone else for simple purchases really felt like being a second-class citizen.

I realize that the purpose behind these restrictions is the idea that the older one gets, the more mature one gets. But the assumption is flawed; It may be that as one gets older one gets more mature, but as a 14-year-old, I knew of many people in their 30s or 40s where were much more childish and less responsible than I.

Age discrimination is illegal, but only if the discriminee is over 40. It's actually legal to descriminate between a 20-year-old and a 30-year-old, and in some cases it's required.

Many people say that the reason we use age as a measure of maturity and responsibility (e.g. for finances, drinking, driving, fishing, etc.) is that there is no more readily availible tool. And although I feel the sentiment is correct it's not clear to me why no one seems to be making any effort to try.

Internet (2)

at0m (56249) | more than 13 years ago | (#449187)

This is why I find the Internet so wonderful. The anonymity means that you are judged by skill (which I hold more important than even experience), not by age, race, gender, etc. True, most jobs aren't conducted over the Internet so it's not a good solution to the problem in the workplace, but when a brilliant young person hides behind the Internet and is later exposed as a competent teen (or any minority), it should help to dispel stereotypes. In answer to your question, yes. I've experienced the same problem, though I haven't had much of the normal workplace environment. It's a problem, but it is getting better, at least in the world of technology.

Old Boys Club (2)

MarkKomus (71304) | more than 13 years ago | (#449191)

Well I can attest to being overlooked even though I'm almost twenty-four, but the people I have to convince are all around forty. I easily have more years of IT background then all of them combined. It all boils down to the "old boys club" that has been around for a long time. If you aren't an older guy with business experience you'll have trouble getting in and being listened to.

Domain specific experience vs. life experience (2)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 13 years ago | (#449198)

One of the things I've found in the course of my own life, and I can only speak for my own experiences, is that obtaining domain specific knowledge is only half the battle in gaining respect.

Generally speaking, the most effective people I've encountered in any working environment are those who not only can tackle the technical aspects of the job at hand, but can also assess and deal with the human issues.

For example, as a young lieutenant in the Army, I figured I was a pretty good leader. I was young, highly trained, and smart. But now that I've been out of the Army for a few years and working in the civilian world, I've come to realize that although I did know a lot and was highly skilled, my leadership abilities are still evolving and (hopefully) getting better.

The same thing goes for my project management abilities and technical skills.

I'm in my early 30s now, and I view experience differently than I used to. Sometimes what seems like thickheadedness is actually caution born of hard-won experience. I think it's human nature to become more cautious over the years, and that translates to a lack of willingness to trust less experienced folks with important projects.

Mind you, that doesn't mean that younger people are necessarily less experienced. The human brain works by association, though, and youth is usually associated with lack of experience.

Here's how I dealt with it when I was but a young lad. Whenever I was working with someone older and and potentially biased, I watched them for a bit to discern their communication habits and how they made decisions. Does this guy decide based on facts, or on emotion? Is she concerned primarily with cost, or with performance?

Then I would buttress whatever arguments I was going to make with irrefutable facts. Find sources of information in the trade press, on Slashdot, wherever. Wherever possible, present three articles or bits of information to buttress your claims. Document everything!

. Thoroughness is not ordinarily an attribute of youth (again, a generality, but one born of observation). When you're thorough, you are presenting yourself as a professional, not just a kid with an idea.

As a matter of fact, that approach works well no matter how old you are.

Maturity, Responsibility, Wisdom... (2)

resonance (106398) | more than 13 years ago | (#449199)

Where I work we employ about 16 people, most of whom are under 21 years old. They are all computer techs of some kind. While we have no problem listening to what they have to say, and their work is fine, the one issue that we have observed is a distinct lack maturity, a sense of responsibility (to one's self as well as the business), and the wisdom that comes with real business experience. While the youthful energy is a great thing to have in our office, it gets frustrating at times having to deal with so many people who in so many ways haven't grown up yet (hell, they haven't even moved out of their parents' houses yet) and just don't know what the 'real world' is like, or how to operate in it effectively.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think it sucks big time when the old folks don't listen to the young for no reason other than a prejudgement on the youth. But there may be good reasons sometimes to take what is said and analyze it without simply accepting it. I feel this should be done in a constructive way with constructive feedback given to the young individual, so growth and learning can be facilitated. I think that there are a lot of people though who would rather ignore or blow off the young opinions and thoughts instead of work with them and glean value from them. Unfortunate.

I think the only way around it, for the young people, is to demonstrate that which is being said. Actions speak way louder than words, especially in business, where words are disposable and not trusted.

You've all got it wrong. (2)

Crispin Glover (123499) | more than 13 years ago | (#449202)

It's not about age. It's about how many girls you've banged on your way up there.

Which is why so many sysadmins get funny looks even from their parents.

Um, *teens*? LOL (2)

StoryMan (130421) | more than 13 years ago | (#449203)

This belief is faulty, however, when you consider that tomorrow's computer professionals start gaining experience in their teens, not in their twenties or thirties.

Have you read fuckedcompany.com lately?

Obviously not if you think tomorrow's computer "professionals" are in their teens. I suspect "teens" are the first ones laid off or the first ones to fuck their company. FC.com will attest to that.

I mean, come on: a teenager is a teenager. And a whiny, snivelling 23 year old with 6 months of "professional" experience is still a whiny, snivelly 23 year old, experience or no.

Don't fall into the "Hey, man, I'm 17 but I know whereof I speak." trap. You don't know whereof you speak if you're 17. It's just the facts. "Experience" is more than just on-the-job experience. It means maturity, awareness, and -- get this! -- wisdom.

Wisdom don't come at age 18. Wisdom barely comes at age 28 or 38 or 48. Some are wiser than others. But just because you've compiled your kernel a few times and fielded tech support calls from a couple of disgruntled users doesn't make you "wise".

Who Among Us *Hasn't* Experienced This? (2)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 13 years ago | (#449208)

I'd wager a guess that most of us who read Slashdot have experienced this at some point in our lives. I experienced it at my first few jobs. I distinctly remember one of the employees who had a major problem with suggestions I made for improving our tech support desk because a) I was young, and b) I was a summer intern. I think he also felt a bit threatened since I knew more about the systems we were supporting than he did, and he'd been there 5 years. I was lucky, though, since my boss had no such hang-ups and loved the work I did.

I think it has alot to do with fear. They (ie older folks at work) see people 1/2 their age who know alot more about modern systems and programming than they do. Granted, some young folks have this ridiculous ego that can also get them into trouble.

Of course some of them want to say: "Respect your elders." I say: HAH. Respect ability, respect experience, respect knowledge... but respect age?!? NEVER!

Age DOESN'T matter (2)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#449216)

Age doesn't matter at all, if no one you work with knows your age.

It's inappropriate to even ask in a business situation, and if someone does, just smile and change the subject.

If you're being treated as inferior because of your lack of experience, or immature behavior, that's something entirely different. But age, well, I know enough people who are 30 and look 18, or have grey hair at 21, to not even try to assume.

Depends on where you're at (2)

ScuzzMonkey (208981) | more than 13 years ago | (#449217)

I've found that I rarely have this problem when I'm working in technical environments with other technically astute people. After a few weeks where they sort of feel you out and you prove that you're not a moron, they'll pretty much be willing to hear you out (although they'll still slag you down if there's room for disagreement--nerds can be harsh). And of course, the more technical accomplishments you show them, the higher you rise in their esteem over time.

But in a non-technical environment, I think it's very much the case of people equating age with experience. For example, right now I'm in a contract-to-hire position for an MIS Manager slot at a mid-sized real estate development company. Originally, they were planning on just hiring the position perm and full-time, but apparently they were a little nervous about me. I've only been here a couple of weeks, but already I've cleaned a lot of things up, improved performance and stability, and generally made life easier for the staff. But I'm not at all sure that they'll offer me the perm position, because I get the impression that they're looking for someone a little older who wears a tie. The pay is awesome and the job is interesting enough, but I find myself uncomfortable with the lack of emphasis on performance as a measuring stick. I'm coming out of dot-coms where you're pretty much taken for whoever you are as long as you can get the job done and I don't have much patience for the extraneous BS of corporate life. My normal reaction would be to say, screw 'em, and move on--but it's not so easy when $$$$ start popping up.

So I have some idea of where you're at. I guess that you (and I) have a couple of options. Here's what I'm planning on doing:

--Emphasize past performance that has been to the benefit of the company. If you've done things that have improved their bottom line, point them out and speak up. They're more likely to value your opinion if you have provided measurable value to the company.

--Point out that IT is not like accounting. This field evolves so rapidly that all any of us really have is a couple of years of experience. Sure, the rest is something to build on, and I wouldn't trade it in, but most of the technologies I work with day to day have only existed for a few years--remember the ads for Java programmers with 10 years of experience a year after the language was invented? Traditional yardsticks don't mean much in this environment.

--Let them hang themselves. Put things in writing. If you have an opinion that you stand behind that runs counter to what they think, put it in a memo and spread it around. If they ignore you and six months later pay for it, you and they both know that they should have listened to you. You don't have to rub their noses in it; just propose your own solution again--they'll get the message.

--Write it up. Don't just expect someone to listen to you because you talk. Give 'em a paper with citations, arguments, and examples. People in traditional businesses love that shit.

Good luck. If you give it a few months and it still doesn't work for you, look elsewhere; there are still places where what you think is more important than how you look.

Not necessarily (2)

tsarin (217882) | more than 13 years ago | (#449219)

I can imagine cases where it might matter, but it certainly doesn't have to. We have a couple of students interning here at my $orkplace, and they're eminently as capable and competent as many of the so-called professionals alongside them. Moreso in a few notable cases.

I think, ultimately (barring, of course, the pathological case of outright prejudice), it comes down to whether or not you know WTF you're doing. If you do, and can demonstrate it, age matters not one whit. If you don't, trying to pass it off as ageism is a weak-assed copout, at best.

All personality, no Character. That's the problem. (2)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#449223)

Don't like being the office teaboy? Don't like being sneered at and ribbed by your colleagues because of your youth? Well, you won't get a job in my company then. Consider it a rite of passage. That old saw about it 'making a Man of you' holds true today just as it did yesterday. The simple fact is that you have to do these crappy jobs, and put up with these slights, because they will make you far more understanding of your fellow man and able to deal with pressure when you mature.

I have to wonder though. The pasty looking kids that are being reared in air conditioned homes and eating their Big Macs don't impress me. There seems to be an atmosphere of weakness and selfishness around todays slacker kids.

I am one of Thatchers children, and in my day we were keen, fit and angry. We were out to change the world, not to get a good pension scheme. We took the difficulties leveled at us with spirit and character.

Todays generation must do the same. I never thought ten years would make such a difference.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Age & Geeks (2)

moishel (262967) | more than 13 years ago | (#449224)

I started working as a programmer at 16; I knew I was young and inexperienced and I was psyched to actually be getting PAID to program! I never had any problems with people listening to/respecting me because of my age, which might have been partly due to the fact that it was a small company. However, I did have major problems getting paid enough as I got more knowledge -- at 20, I was working 80 hours a week as one of two programmers on a huge upgrade to the company's primary product but still being paid less than the secretary.

My eventual solution was to leave that job and move to a company that respected my experience (and by that point I was about the age of a young-ish college grad and the company I worked for was full of young people at all levels). My point is that I got tons of experience as a young 'un and that, while you may have to put up with some crap because of your age, you're getting huge amounts of knowledge about techie stuff and "real world" stuff like human interactions that many people who chose to just go to college will lack. And that will pay off in respect given to you by your co-workers.

Watch out when you're over 40 too... (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#449226)

When you become seen as "too expensive" or "raising the groups health plan costs" or are married with kids and can't work 80 hours/week anymore. Then you get fired. Discriminiation works both ways.

Age doesn't matter... sometimes.. (3)

Toast (3221) | more than 13 years ago | (#449227)

Here at my company (sillicon-valley "startup"), age doesn't matter so much. I just turned 24 (one of the youngest engineers) and manage a group of 6 people, and control 2 of the more important projects inside the company. A co-worker, a 20 year old student at Stanford, is in charge of the user-interface for all of our products, and one needs her approval before anything can be put into the product.

This kind of respect doesn't come for free. We both had to claw our way up from the bottom of the heap, but it's certainly possible, when in the presence of intelligent and non-biased management to be evaluated based on your actual capabilities.

However, there is value in experience. Being so young, I still tend to de-value age and longevity, but I have noticed it makes a difference sometimes. Even though age doesn't seem to have much of a bearing on one's programming abilities, the longer you've worked in the industry, the less naive you become, and the better you can predict the future, which is key in the business world.

When you're fresh from school, you tend to think that you can do huge amounts of work in a short time. Just because you can code 1000 lines of code a day, doesn't mean that a 10,000 line project will take 2 weeks (or even 2 months!) It's a sad but true fact that working in a business environment, and shipping product requires all sorts of nasty things like QA, documentation, maintainence, etc.. I used to look at statistics of the average engineer writing 10-20 lines of code a day as a sign that the world was populated by idiots. Now that I manage a group of engineers, I see exactly why that number is (roughly) correct. Coding really is the very last step in a 100-step process.

Now, that having been said, I've also been in an environment where my manager was so biased towards age that I never got any respect, even though I was contributing much more than my elders on the team. I left that company (Oracle) for this startup for that very reason.

In general, it comes down to who your manager is. Some people are open-minded about age, some people aren't. If you are such a hot-shot, go get another job (preferably for a small company) and find a manager who will trust you.

Well.... (3)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#449229)

I find this to be somewhat true. I think the biggest thing is the maturity level and HOW you bring up ideas/changes. If you document everything clearly and lay it all out you'll get a good response. Being younger I think you have to do more work then somebody older but I think that's because they come accross as having more experience.
--

Young + female = less respect (3)

Starbreeze (209787) | more than 13 years ago | (#449230)

Yeah, I've got the same problem. What's worse is I'm a girl, so regardless of my age, it's still been difficult to gain respect from my colleagues. I've only recently graduated so it's hard to be taken seriously, but I am slowly gaining respect. If your acheivements haven't showed them anything, maybe it's time to find a new job? Good luck buddy... ~star

Been that way, gonna be that way (3)

khyron664 (311649) | more than 13 years ago | (#449232)

It's been this way for a long time, and probably will continue to be this way in the future. No one likes to have someone younger than you show they're more knowledgable than you. You've spent a time in the work place and should know more about solving problems than some young kid. It won't matter what the ages involved are. It's the way society is. Best you can hope for is someone who isn't so egocentric. Khyron

Age of your boss (4)

goten (36521) | more than 13 years ago | (#449233)

It seems to me that this boils down to how old your boss is. If the people that are in charge are young (under 30), it seems that even teeneagers get the respect they deserve. I've work with ancient bosses and younger ones, and I've definatly gotten more respect from the younger ones.

Age matters. (4)

tcd004 (134130) | more than 13 years ago | (#449234)

I'm 25, and I have a staggering amount of responsibilty in my job--as many 25 year old's do these days. However, I'm rarely taken seriously, and often downright ignored. It's insanely frustrating, but I also know that when I'm 40, I'll probably treat 25 year-olds the same way. Experience is the best teacher.

Anyone who has gone from collge onto a job knows that in your first year at a good job you learn 10x what you did in college. We have interns in our office who range from age 16 through 23. It's amazing to see the differnt levels in professional maturity, as well as know-how that come with age. Age discrimination sucks. I absolutely hate to be ignored, especially when I know I'm right, but it comes with the territory.

If you want to escape it, find a company where the average age is as close to your own as possible.

tcd004 The Pentium 4 Revealed! [lostbrain.com]

Are you sure it's age? (5)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 13 years ago | (#449241)

How exactly do you know it's because you are young? Garnering respect from your peers can be as much about how you conduct yourself as what you can do. Is it at all possible that you're just an arrogant jerk? Or on the flipside, that your demeanor doesn't show much self-confidence?

Anyhow, regardless of age, who at one point or another doesn't feel they are getting enough respect from the boss/co-workers/guy at Starbucks, etc.?

wisdom of the ages (5)

omega_rob (246153) | more than 13 years ago | (#449245)

Snatch the pebble from my hand, grasshopper. You will know when you are ready, and all doors will open before you.

In the meantime, pipe down junior and get me a frickin' coffee.

omega_rob

Sadly, age does matter (5)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#449246)

Even in the dotcom world, age does matter.

I think Salon [salon.com] just ran a piece where they were saying that 30 year old CEO's were out, and VC's are looking for a CEO's with grey hair. Perhaps it was reading business2.com on the exercycle that I read this, whatever.

Too many programmers and /.'ers are myopic, they think computer skills are all that matters, when in the real world, people skills, marketing skills, finance skills and networking (not LAN, people to people) skills are just as important, if not more. With just a little reflection, I can list tens of companies that have advanced, technically wonderful ideas that have failed or are failing, ie. Amiga, FreeBSD and even Apple, while companies that have less trendy technologies, but better marketing, are still beating the world, ie. Microsoft.

So, even if your clueless, gray haired manager may not know Perl or PHP, they've been competing in the junglel of business for decades longer than you have, and no a few survival tricks that you don't. Learn from them, respect them and eventually replace them, but if you try to replace them too early, well, look up something called the Children's Crusade, or look up the history of NeXT.
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