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Ask Slashdot: Best Training To Rekindle a Long Tech Career?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the choose-his-own-adventure dept.

Education 162

New submitter SouthSeaDragon writes "I'm a computer professional who has performed most of the functions that could be expected over a 39 year career, including hardware maintenance and repair, sitting on a 800 support line, developing a help desk application from the ground up (terminal-based), writing a software manual, plus developing and teaching software courses. In recent years, I've worked for computer software vendors doing pre-sales support generally for infrastructure products including applications, app servers, integration with Java based messaging and ESB product and most recently a Business Rules product. I was laid off recently due to a restructuring and am now trying to figure out the next phase. With the WIA displaced worker grants now available I am attempting to figure out what training would be good to pursue. I am hearing that 'the Cloud' is the next big thing, but I'm also looking into increasing my development skills with a current language. I wonder what the readers might suggest for new directions."

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162 comments

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The cloud (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276231)

You're at least 1 hype behind, it's now all about devops

Re:The cloud (2)

loxfinger (571135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277245)

"C'mon fellas, it's all ball bearings these days!"

Android Development (5, Interesting)

eljefe6a (2289776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276249)

Since you already know Java, give Android development a try. I know a few people who have rekindled their love of programming by doing some mobile apps.

39 year career? How old are you? (-1, Troll)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276251)

Given your very extended career I think digitalizing the fossils catalogue of some museum would fit perfectly as the next step.
Why, you might even find you old classmates in there.

Re:39 year career? How old are you? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276305)

thats pretty damn obnoxious of you, douchebag.

Re:39 year career? How old are you? (4, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276771)

At least you will never have to worry about getting old. At some point you will mouth off to the wrong guy and get shot.

Re:39 year career? How old are you? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276825)

Oooh, internet threats. That might be more scary if not for the fact that you're some loser in his parent's basement with cum-dripping, cheetos-stained fingers.

Re:39 year career? How old are you? (-1, Troll)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276935)

that's pretty damn obnoxious of you, douchebag.

Home-calling consumer services? (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276255)

Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

On the other hand, if you have good hygiene, nice manners, aren't creepy, and are efficient, people might welcome you into their homes.

So how about being self-employed, going to people's homes and small businesses to help them with configuration / purchase / maintenance of computers and simple networks?

It wouldn't pay great, but you may have to live with that anyway, given that you're competing with hungry recent-graduates in a depressed labor market.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276271)

On the other hand, you probably make fewer typos than I do.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276519)

Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

Only in a law of averages. My observations of old people are they either give up intentionally, the brain freezes up, and they're hopeless, or they keep using the brain and they're more focused than a 20-something. It seems much like muscle mass and health in general as people age.

The percentage of those who give up in a population increases pretty much linear with age. Look out for the ancient wizard, those guys tend to have scary elite skills. Unless they gave up on tech and went into soft skills and are there just because of schmooze power, the schmooze guys tend toward being a laughingstock.

People tend to romanticize their youth a bit. At 25 I was trying to date the intern, had no idea what was going on although I thought I was an expert, still wasted time occasionally drinking, basically was an idiot with a huge surplus of energy and motivation. Which is all SOME jobs need, but most need actual skill.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276655)

While I now know a lot more, I don't have the same energy I had when I was 7-8 years old and learnt BASIC, 6502 machine code from the Apple 2 manuals (they were rather good manuals).

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276799)

I too no longer have the energy for 12 hours days. However, I generally finish projects a lot faster than younger people on my team. Almost like experience counts for something...

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (2)

John Bokma (834313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40278305)

I guess that has much more to do with that you now have to dedicate a large part of that energy to other things. Also, it's no longer a hobby, right?

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (5, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276785)

Only in a law of averages. My observations of old people are they either give up intentionally, the brain freezes up, and they're hopeless, or they keep using the brain and they're more focused than a 20-something. It seems much like muscle mass and health in general as people age.

That's pretty much the ultimate ""your own fault" approach. There is a fairly widespread subset of th epopulation that thinks that any ailment is the sick person's fault.

Perhaps the giving up happens when the person's brain isn't working as well as it used to. Sometimes stuff like age happens, and despite our best efforts, no one get out of here alive.

Though it is appealing to think that as long as I do Sudoku, I'll never die or become senile........naahhh, I hate frickin' Sudoku!

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276671)

Or he could, you know, find work in a position befitting his experience? Catering to home users is generally bottom of the barrel in terms of pay and probably getting the same PITA phone calls about their network not working because little Timmy downloaded too much pronz.

There are some companies around that actually value an older guy who's a little humble and knows the ropes. Hotshot 25 y/os may have the cool factor and are in touch with what's hot, but at the same time make a lot of mistakes their older peers no longer make nor have the same perspective.

IMO, if the guy has any legacy knowledge of systems still in use but no longer sexy, he should leverage that.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276691)

I was just kicking out one idea, because we don't know a ton about his competence or other qualifications.

I figured that as a community, we were collectively trying to throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276837)

Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

On the other hand, if you have good hygiene, nice manners, aren't creepy, and are efficient, people might welcome you into their homes.

So how about being self-employed, going to people's homes and small businesses to help them with configuration / purchase / maintenance of computers and simple networks?

It wouldn't pay great, but you may have to live with that anyway, given that you're competing with hungry recent-graduates in a depressed labor market.

Condescending comments aside, I also agree with this comment. A lot of younger geeks have simply no relation at all to older people. This is a problem, as older people still own and run a lot of small business. This leads to major communication gaps, and misunderstandings. If you have the chops, you may farm out to a few consulting shops as the expert trouble-shooter. Better money, and more interesting work.

That or learn Ruby. More demand for that than just about anything I have seen in a while.

Do what you enjoy (1)

tebee (1280900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276983)

I would caution against trying in-home support unless you live in a well off neighbourhood or can afford to live on a low wage. Problem is there is some young buck, usually the son of a friend of a friend, who gets off on messing with computers and will do it for pocket money. It's hard to make a living wage against competition like that.

If this sounds bitter, yes I've tried it. I'm a bit similar to you started my IT career doing assembler programing on IBM 360's , became a systems programer, then started doing network support, then pc support, then ended up doing PHP programing. I hate managing and at an early stage became a freelance contractor to get decent money but avoid all the management politics.

I had to give all up when I had to take 3 years out to look after my terminally ill mother. Tried to get back in after but I was too far behind and frankly not in all that good a state myself by then.

Tried the home PC support but it's very hard to find a price level that you can afford to live on and people can afford you, though I very much enjoyed the work and meet real live people again after 2 many years in 2nd line support. Did a few other non-computer ventures for a while ( Ran a bar, worked as a photographer) but was never really as happy as when I was messing with bits . Neither did I make as much money , and that with the loss of most of my capital through two divorces forced a rethink.

In the end I stumbled in into a job I really enjoy. I'm a model railroader by hobby and started using 3-d cad to make models by 3-d printing. A year and a bit later I have a business that almost supports me and my family.

If you have been in the biz for 39 years, like me you're not getting any younger - go find something you enjoy and do it.

 

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (2)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277155)

Right... he's competing against hungry *unproven* recent grads.

There's a difference.

Ageism: It's the new tech innovation.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277203)

People can't tell the difference, nor do they care. They see a 21 year old who can "fix" their computer on the cheap, versus someone in their 50s who can't even get their solder to salute and would be perceived to charge a large wage. Guess who they will pick, and it won't be the "COBOL fossil."

Age discrimination sucks, but people will take a 20-something a lot more seriously than anyone 35+. It is just how the business goes.

Re:Home-calling consumer services? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277277)

Age discrimination sucks, but people will take a 20-something a lot more seriously than anyone 35+. It is just how the business goes.

Only a 20-something or younger would say such a thing.

I'm 28.. I've run a couple of internet businesses over the last 10 years, and I've met _A LOT_ of 20-something year olds. Most of them are--and I cannot stress this enough--fucking idiots.

Their SINGLE advantage is that they are cheap. As long as you can prevent them from fucking up too badly, you'll be able to save some money.

Direction (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276263)

I wouldn't recommend learning stuff with the hope of finding a job that uses it. I feel like you should spend some time, look around at various tech projects and languages and applications, etc etc. Find a job you want like "I'd like to work for Amazon S3, it seems really interesting." or something and then figure out what you need to do to get it, training or otherwise. I feel like that would be more fulfilling and have a better chance of success.

Be realistic (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276277)

If you have a 39 year old career, that means you are likely just a few years from retirement.
A company that hires you will likely hire you for skills you have experience with - not any new skills you have no experience with. Those jobs will, unfortunately, go to young grads.
My recommendation is to take one of the skills you have plenty of experience with and get a formal training in it. Even if it bores you, it will likely boost your employment probabilities more than anything new and interesting like the cloud. Because it is new, companies will be looking for young people who (a) are cheap, and (b) hopefully will stay after gaining experience, so the company can take advantage of that experience down the road.

Sorry if this wasn't what you wanted to hear - I wish things were different, but we old timers aren't all that attractive for things we don't have experience with.

Late 50s early 60s.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276349)

From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life. More than likely, he'll never work again as a professional or in any white collar job.

That is also a reason why disability claims with Social Security have been sky rocketing these last couple of years - older people unable to work so they go for early retirement or disability if they are too young.

It's a crying shame, too.

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276475)

From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life. More than likely, he'll never work again as a professional or in any white collar job.

There are exceptions, but those are for people with very specific skill sets that younger people are unlikely to have, like Cobol, Fortran, CICS, Unicos, VMS...

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276517)

Fortran is still taught in schools for engineers and programmers, IIRC. Dunno about cobol, but I'm sure it's being taught somewhere.

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276577)

It is, but it's a course on rarely taken and rarely offered. It's for people who know they plan to work at a bank for example, and will need COBOL to work on some critical system that you can't do anything about.

Fortran is an extremely rare skill because it's taught primarily to people in sciences who don't go off into industry. They still actively use Fortran in sciences and are professional scientists.

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (2)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276661)

Fortran is NOT an extremely rare skill. Its widely used in engineering and scientific programming.

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (3, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276615)

It is still used by many major corporations, and many not-so-major ones.

COBOL, like the Mainframe, has had almost as many funerals as it has birthdays...

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (2)

akeeneye (1788292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276593)

The key may be, along with learning the hot skill of the moment (another poster suggested mobile apps which is probably hottest now), to seek out remote work, where, if you only reveal your most recent experience, The Man doesn't generally know how old you are. There's a fair amount of it out there - keep an eye on the news.ycombinator.com forums among other places. I see a lot of work-from-anywhere mobile gigs. Also, small companies - startups especially - want cheap hackers but they also have very short time horizons. The company could be gone in six months and has better things to worry about than your retirement plans if any.

Re:Late 50s early 60s.... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276625)

From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life.

Now is the time to go into senior management or similar. Sell your years of expertise training people, that kind of thing.

You're right, in that any career he was particularly in before is dead and buried unless he can market himself to a former competitor. Training in a programming language is unlikely to help unless he plans to start his own business and start out as lead programmer.

As a 58yr old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276763)

'Grumpy Old Man', I can relate to a lot of the comments that have been posted here.

I think I'm quite lucky in that I didn't specialize in any one area of IT.
Instead, I got into 'Systems Integration'. My breadth of skills and the ability to take the wider view means that jobs are not hard to come by.
Sure some of the people I work with are shit hot Java coders, DBA designers or whatever but when putting together a system that will work is a whole different kettle of fish.
Over the years, I've been there, seen it, got the 'T' shirt.
Many systems these days are pretty complicated and just manking them work together is a skill.
A skill that is AFAIK not taught in any university. It can only be acquired with experience.

Re:Be realistic (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276367)

Embezzle as much as you can from your current employer. You'll end up in a minimum security federal prison. You get three hots and a cot, plus free health care. There's a gym and a library. It's probably better than you'll get in your retirement. Our country is more willing to spend money on its criminals than its elders, might as well take advantage of that.

Re:Be realistic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276421)

Those elders deserve worse then prison - have you seen what they've done to this country?

Re:Be realistic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276525)

Those elders deserve worse then prison - have you seen what they've done to this country?

QFT. Greedy bastards sold us down the river with their entitlement programs. "Sure, let's setup these pyramid schemes and go into insane levels of debt. Our children & grandchildren wont mind living in poverty so we can live beyond our means!"

We should just refuse to pay/bailout their insanity. We didn't make this mess.

Re:Be realistic (4, Insightful)

wmelnick (411371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276889)

Depends on what you call "Elder". Those in their 60s and 70s yes. Those of us in our 40s and slighty older than us are even more screwed than you youngsters. We have paid in all our lives (25+ years) the same as those in their 70s and 80s who have gotten everything but when we get to retirement age in 15-20 years there will be nothing left for us and everything we paid in will have been sucked dry.

Re:Be realistic (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276461)

Plus free rectal exams on admittance, and more sex than you've received your entire life.

Re:Be realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276483)

Plus free rectal exams on admittance, and more sex than you've received your entire life.

I guessed you missed the part where the point was to do white collar crime which lands you in a minimum security facility.

Re:Be realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276955)

Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison?

Re:Be realistic (2)

DavidJSimpson (899508) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276685)

He must also consider the danger that he might NOT be caught, and could end up spending the rest of his life on a big pile of money.

Re:Be realistic (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276701)

Embezzle as much as you can from your current employer. You'll end up in a minimum security federal prison.

Only if you rip off a small amount. Embezzle enough and you'll get his job.

Re:Be realistic (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276767)

It's not just for eldars. We're also more willing to spend money to lock 20-something marijuana smokers in jail than to send them to college or job training.

It's some system we've got going: pull funding from education, imprison the youth, then offshore labor or import it from other countries because "there aren't enough qualified applications", even while the number of unemployed goes up.

Yay!

Re:Be realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277101)

Huh. All of my 20-something peeps who smoke pot, when caught, tell the judge "I have a problem with marijuana", and they get ordered to attend rehab/counseling, and serve no time.

Now, that may not work forever, but one of my acquaintances did do it three times in a row. The only time I've personally seen time for weed, in my neck of the woods, was if it was mixed with other offenses (DWI, etc..)

Re:Be realistic (-1, Flamebait)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276851)

Our country is more willing to spend money on its criminals than its elders, might as well take advantage of that.

Most of the soon-to-be-elders are the ones who put us into the financial mess we are in.

Re:Be realistic (4, Interesting)

shmlco (594907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277207)

Most of people who've put you into this mess are ex-CEOs who've since bailed and retired on their multi-million-dollar golden parachutes.

Cut expenses, Profit. Cut jobs. Profit. Offshore. More profits. Cut quality. More profits. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...

What? People are no longer buying the mass-produced junk we're importing from China? Sorry about that. Guess it's time for me to bail...

Re:Be realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276893)

Sounds good, except if you're in the states. Then it's Federal pound-me-in-the-ass Prison.

Re:Be realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277137)

No way man. Find someplace nice and squat it. Hawaii, etc. Worst case you end up in prison like you are suggesting already. Best case, you live someplace nice for free. It's more common than you think. You could hop from REO2REO too with similar consequences, but not in such nice areas. He can probably afford to buy some cheap land and violate the living shit out of building codes. It's like squatting only better. Build your castle under some nice shade trees, they probably won't find it.

Bottom line, if you're willing to go to prison you should do something prison-worthy. You have the added bonus of possibly getting away with it. At the very least, put counterfeit bills in the drink machines. Come on, man. Straight to prison? Terrible plan.

Re:Be realistic (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40278331)

Our country is more willing to spend money on its criminals than its elders, might as well take advantage of that.

Wrong.

I don't know about you, but I've been in jail.

Three hot meals is correct, if you can manage to swallow it. The food has to be as bland as possible, because they don't cook with any salt or spices or anything tasty in case someone has heart issues or is diabetic, etc. Trust me, putting salt on your food after it is cooked makes a huge difference (i.e. it doesn't help). Most people mix all of the meal together in one big pile in order to get even a modicum of flavor. If you want something tasty you have to use the canteen, which is usually a vending machine where ramen noodles are $0.75 and a candy bar is $2.00.

The gym was crap. You could play basketball, or just run around.

The library was a little bit bigger than a dorm room and consisted of books that were donated because no one bought them at the library sale. So basically a book has to be so crappy that a library tries to hawk it, and then be even crappier because it doesn't sell for a quarter. There were a few gems if you looked hard (ended up reading a few torn up Dostoevsky novels).

Yes, I am sure that there more pleasant jails/prisons out there, but the two I stayed in and probably the majority of the rest are far from what you think.

Oh, and at the end of your tenure you are tendered a nice fat bill to pay for your stay (~$30 a night). Pretty sure a $900/month retirement home would be a better choice.

I understand your post was a cutesy facetious post, but it is hard to excuse ignorance.

Re:Be realistic (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276895)

That's HIGHLY Insightful.

When I was training WIA students who were highly "experienced" at being (repeatedly) unemployed due to the economy I learned a lot from them.

Take the LONGEST most useful course you can AND see if the school will call multiple courses some "hyphenated" SINGLE course for you. If your Unemployment will last through this, ensure your expressed preferences via the unemployment office "protect" you against being coerced to take jobs you don't really WANT. A great way is to pick a distance from home which excludes potential employers.

Milk it, get the papers, and use the time. You might even channel schooling into obtaining a teaching gig. Schools KNOW students take courses they could probably teach. They get paid so they are fine with that.

Make faculty friends! It's a club and it's a club where being an Old Fucker is a sign of stability! (I'm an Old Fucker, BTW.) Use that human networking kung-fu young noobs think they don't need because they are Unique Snowflakes. You know TEAM behaviours.

We work to serve our elite masters who milk us like cattle, so use every opportunity the system gives you. THEY DO. It's every man for himself.

Re:Be realistic (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276973)

Because it is new, companies will be looking for young people who (a) are cheap, and (b) hopefully will stay after gaining experience, so the company can take advantage of that experience down the road.

This is an ironic statement since most tech departments I have seen have a mean seniority of 1.5 years or less. Younger people are more likely to take the risk and job hop, while and older employee may just keep going on.

Re:Be realistic (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40278197)

After 39 years, you likely should be retiring. I retired after a 38-year career, and it was the best thing I ever did!
Go apply for Social Security and begin tapping into those IRAs and 401Ks. You are set.

If, after you retire, you still feel the urge to do something creative, Get involved with an open source project or go help some local community-service organization with its website or something like that.

Teach (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276377)

Java is still a very popular language - Could you get a job teaching the basics? You can't beat the perks of being a professor.

If development classes don't float your boat, how about teaching a Systems Analysis and Design course? You've got experience with requirements gathering, project management, System Design, etc.. you could make a great Professor with that experience.

PM (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276397)

One of the things that many companies struggle with is delivering on projects. A good PM helps with that. What makes a good PM? Someone that knows and follows all the stupid paperwork around PM, but also has a well refined BS meter, for all the worthless twits who will always say "I can get you that by Friday" when it's a 6 month task (in IT, I find many people have superhero complexes and will never say "I don't know" or anything like that). So, someone with a well rounded background who is interested in PM will make a better PM than all the people who decide it's the non-technical way to get into IT for all that lucrative IT cash, and can't ever deliver anything.

On the other hand, if you are wanting to just continue as an IT grunt, VMware is what most managers think of when "the cloud" is mentioned, so go take a VMware class, or SAN or something like that. Look at the jobs available in your region (or where you want to work) and see what's being listed now and what pays in your expectation range.

Management training (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276405)

Either

1) Do something completely non-tech like management training and find something in at a tech company. Or accounting.

2) Do what you find interesting (I'm learning Scala by doing Project Euler tasks, because I want to. No other reason). You're asking /. so I'm guessing you don't want to do anything in tech. Which is fine. You may never find a job in the field. Assuming you're in the US, there are fewer employed full time workers every year so you may never have another job, at all. But at least you'll get a cool class.

3) Find where you want to work, figure out what they use in IT, and learn it to get in. So you wanna get in on the bubble (admittedly probably too late) so you figure out what groupon or facebook uses in your field, learn those topics, get into the bubble, or whatever. It seems we're headed into another downswing of the 2nd great depression. I'd look for a relatively stable employer, like a hospital?

4) Figure out where you want to work, figure out what entry level jobs they hire (unfortunately probably low pay), and learn a new skill in a new career.

5) Retire? My dad retired from full time 9-5 work in his 50s and consulted, but was mostly retired. Your previous employers may not need you 40 hours per week, but they may need you for 8 hours a week, or perhaps during busy times. Who's to say you're not doing your own startup or small business while retired? A decade or so ago, retired people looking to earn a buck used their domain specific skills to run a ebay store, worked for my dad. I guess that opportunity has been destroyed but there is probably something out there. Is gold farmer still a valid mode of employment?

Hey Michael (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276415)

Try to not use your real name when posting on tech forums. You come across as insecure and not knowing.

And with your name, you should consider changing it, because prospective employers like to google names, and find things like
Spamming: http://luni.org/pipermail/luni/2010-July/027748.html [luni.org]
Drug charge: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/914/1527/243231/ [justia.com]
Alleged wifebeating and stabbing attempt: http://on-suicides-deaths.blogspot.com/2009/04/nh-man-killed-in-lakes-region-crash.html [blogspot.com]

Those might not be you, but a prospective employer might not spend the extra time on finding out.

Re:Hey Michael (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276699)

From one of your links:

Police were alerted to the buried vehicle following an incident at Alimontiâ(TM)s property on March 31 in which a tenant, Michael Salsman, 34, allegedly beat his wife, Alacea Dyer Salsman, 23, and attempted to stab her with a butcher knife.

You wouldn't want to work for an employer who thinks a 37 year old is the same person as the one who has a 39 year old tech career.

As for insecure, why would using your real name mean you're insecure?

Re:Hey Michael (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277015)

because he's one of those morons who thinks if you ask a question, it means you know absolutely nothing about anything. He's so insecure in his own abilities that he's afraid if he doesn't always have the answer people will realize how little he actually knows.

you're a support expert. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276423)

roll with that.

seriously.

get a job appointing support consultants to do some shit ass oracle consulting for businesses that use enterprise support sw(read: every fucking big corp). swim in money. go for it.

Plumbing. (0)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276429)

Learn plumbing. Your "Enterprise Products" days are over.

In the "Cloud" (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276479)

Cloud + "Big Data" are happening things these days. I am a 64yo professional and started a new career at the first of the year in telecom. Cloud + Hadoop + Big Data are serious issues these days. I'm gaining my chops in that area (main emphasis is performance engineering), and there is a LOT of interest in anyone with "Big Data" (Hadoop + MapReduce) type of experience.

Re:In the "Cloud" (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276907)

Cloud + Hadoop + Big Data are serious issues these days. I'm gaining my chops in that area (main emphasis is performance engineering), and there is a LOT of interest in anyone with "Big Data" (Hadoop + MapReduce) type of experience.

Second that. Want to learn a new language? Pig [wikipedia.org] .

Salary is an important factor (3, Insightful)

ZeroPly (881915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276487)

If you have been steadily going up the pay scale during your career, you might have to take a significant pay cut - maybe 40% or more, to get another job. As I'm sure you've heard often enough, IT is not kind to those over 50. And nowadays 45 is the new 50. If you have specific niche skills, those are what you should try to market. There is still a considerable amount of legacy hardware and software out there, and it would be better to look there, and hopefully replace someone who is retiring, than live a pipe dream of "reinventing" yourself as a Java/Android/HTML5/Node.js/Hadoop expert.

I do not believe training will help much at this point in your career. Your age will work against you much more than any shiny new certification will work for you. All the twenty somethings are all over the hot new fads. But they will probably not be applying for jobs that involve AS/400 control language, or VAX/VMS.

Software system integration (2)

Narrowband (2602733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276493)

Sounds like you've done a lot on making different pieces of the IT puzzle work together on the infrastructure side. Maybe there's something there?

Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276499)

A lot of companies are complaining that they just can't find good tech folks. IT and programming seem like damned hard positions to fill. If you wanted to brush up on Java web application programming for a month or two, I don't think you'd have a problem finding a job. If you were feeling lazy, you could probably go into software quality testing (automation is more fun than manual) with no training whatsoever and coast to retirement. Depends on the salary you're looking for, of course.

Re:Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276601)

The original poster probably doesn't count as a "good" tech person in that context. I.e., he's not willing to work the wages that are offered to H1B guest workers who can be effectively deported at the whim of their employer. And he's probably not willing to work 60 hours/week for unwritten promises of future wealth.

Re:Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276603)

A lot of companies are complaining that they just can't find good tech folks ...

... for $10/hr no benefits, or mandatory 80 hour per week overtime, or intern unpaid jobs, or "pay you in shares" startups, or ridiculously over specified.

Pay in peanuts, you get monkeys.

I see no evidence of an actual shortage.

I know its discouraging, but just trying to keep it real. Its not 1999 all over again. Or even 2004.

Re:Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277321)

I've had a swarm of recruiters offering $40-$60 an hour for manual testers lately. Hardly peanuts. A lot of that is contract work, in which you actually get paid for any overtime worked (1040 work through a contracting company.) Even at rates like that they seem to be having trouble finding qualified people. From my network of software engineers, no one's actually looking for work right now. That's hardly a scientific sample size, but from my perspective there is a shortage of qualified people and the economy must be doing great!

Re:Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277811)

you offered that through a contracting company? You realize they posted job ads for those contracts @ $15-18/hr... right?

Re:Can Not Find Good Tech Folks (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40278013)

No, I've been offered that in E-Mails from contractors. I just updated my address on my resume on monster and they've been calling and E-Mailing non-stop since then.

Cisco. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276523)

Get hip-deep in heavy networking knowledge. Use the grants to get Cisco certs; that's a hard thing to get into, otherwise.

Five years (3, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276579)

Are you honestly looking for suggestions on training to take that will be good for the next 5 years?

First off, in this job market, don't expect to sail into an upper-level position, so you are likely looking at a grunt-level job.

My advice would be to learn either network security OR virtualization - your diverse skill set will augment either of those two areas, and in security you may have an advantage not being a twenty-something with dubious credentials (AKA self-taught). I think you are honestly at the end of your career, or at least, you can see it from where you are - your greatest strengths are your previous experiences, look for a way to build on them in a growing segment of the industry.

Suggestions for new directions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276613)

> I'm a computer professional .. I was laid off recently .. I wonder what the readers might suggest for new directions ..

Unless you can move into project management I would suggest teaching or moving out of the industry ...

Been there, done that. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276641)

I am 68, probably older than you. IOW, my age-related observations come from living them, not from seeing them portrayed on TV.

I have gone into business for myself and have a cloud-based service I wrote at http://www.TelephoneMessagePad.com

It is not a major money maker ... yet. However, it is growing and churn is low. With expected age of death in early 90's (!) for those in their 60's now, what you need/want is a long-term solution. I don't think hanging on for a few years until social security kicks in and then sitting around the house is that solution. I think if you want a job, you have to create one of your own.

You say you wrote a help desk application form the ground up. Hmmm ... we may have some mutual interests. I am writing a sales/help chat application right now.

You can find some good resources on starting up at http://isvcon.com and http://www.asp-software.org Neither are free.

Re:Been there, done that. (0)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277367)

I have gone into business for myself and have a cloud-based service I wrote at http://www.telephonemessagepad.com/ [telephonemessagepad.com]

It is not a major money maker ... yet.

lol

I couldn't get your job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276753)

As a twenty something who trained for what you do I couldn't get a help desk job without at least 5 years exp to save my life. After seriously considering a move to India I settled with temping, doing migrations and what not and slowly weaseling my way into Web dev. Competition in the cloud is global. It seems you have a lot of soft skills with people you could play up. Age is always advantageous when it comes to people skills. Unless of course you've decided you hate people then by all means learn server side language.

A different tack. . . (4, Interesting)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276775)

. . . .you obviously know IT, can code, and like being productive. You've got both experience and maturity, and likely a good work ethic. Might I suggest a different tack ? Get into CNC Machining [wikipedia.org] . Consider it the industrial end of the Maker movement, industrial-style. People are needed, it pays well, and if they need you to work overtime. . . .you get paid for it. Plus, at the end of the day, you'll have a tangible result of your work. And, with the depth and breadth of experience you already have, picking up CAD/CAM shouldn't be a problem, and you'll likely become a floor lead or shop chief in a relatively short time after attaining mastery of your new skills. . . .

Re:A different tack. . . (3, Interesting)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277757)

Very true words the parent wrote. My father just retired from a long, well-paid, career as a CNC programmer in the aerospace industry and I'm currently doing electro-mechanical R&D at a start up (and being paid decently with benefits!) partly because of my diverse skill set. They commented that you don't often see Electronics Tech, Java Programmer, Network Admin, and CNC Machinist on the same resume. I've heard that some idiots ask "What's your vertical?", like everyone needs to be a super specialist in something. I've found that having a broad range of skills makes me valuable to quite a few people, some that are more than willing to pay a consulting fee.

Check out consulting while going through classes. It looks like you already know your stuff well enough that people would be willing to pay you. If you live in an area that isn't "tech heavy" like the coastal areas of the US, you may find people doing start ups that need tech explanations and guidance. My wife does a lot of that for her bosses (she's the IT Director for a multi-million dollar start up).

Going back to school is also a good move, in the meanwhile. Most schools (especially tech schools) have people whose role is to build relationships with local businesses and place appropriate students with them. They love older students with high tech backgrounds and experience. They are easier to place, and more likely to get other students from the school in the door of where ever they go.

Valuable Experience (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276833)

If you've had customer face-time, and worked in a large company, or visited large companies and worked in them, your understanding of the corporate world is not to be underestimated.

Young clowns right out of school typically take years to understand how corporations work, how to navigate, how to handle the politics, how to communicate, hell, even how to dress. You probably want to focus on getting back in to corporate work, or perhaps consulting with corporations.

As another poster mentioned, you'll be hired at this age for experience - so parlay what you have, don't fret about age.

If you'd like to take on a modern language, Udacity's got a really good intro course on Python, six weeks long and free. Other courses on web application development, programming a robotic car, and more are there for the taking. Worth your time. Start with Python - its used there extensively, and is a modern interpreted language.

C/C++, dev. drivers, OS kernel, routing protocols (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276861)

These aren't the current hot areas and probably never will be (they had their moment in the late '80s and early '90s). But they require highly skilled, highly experienced engineers with dependable work habits, and younger engineers are mostly not interested in these areas anyway since the "action" has moved up the technology stack. Employers realize this, so this your chance.

Your position in enviable (1)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | more than 2 years ago | (#40276901)

SouthSeaDragon:

As your post points out, it's obvious that "the Cloud" is a valuable skill. That term means many things, but although I've been hearing the same things for the last 5 years I've only had the chance to mess with running virtual machines on the public cloud for the past couple months. Why? Time didn't permit me the luxury of exploring it myself, and only recently has my employer decided to it's a priority and paid me to work on it. My bet is that a lot of technology professionals feel that way. I know this sounds cliché, but getting laid off may be the best thing that ever happened for your career. Take the skills you know and add on some pretty deep exploration of cloud technologies. Up to you, but since you mentioned Java you might start with Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk (deploy .war files on Tomcat running in the cloud), which has a 1-year free tier: http://aws.amazon.com/elasticbeanstalk/#pricing [amazon.com]

If you want to be really hip, we've used JRuby to deploy Rails applications to beanstalk, there's a "Hello World" tutorial from Amazon here: http://aws.typepad.com/aws/2011/02/rack-and-the-beanstalk.html [typepad.com]

I'm sure there are other free or low cost options out there as well. Even unemployed, your time is very valuable so use it to your advantage.

Actual advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40276945)

If you are looking for a good computer language to learn now I would recommend python. I have just recently started re-teaching myself programming in a new language and have found python can take advantage of your old skills. Start an online presence and get involved in some open source projects such as SciPy or another that interests you and get your foot in the door without a formal interview. As far as displaced worker training, not sure. The SciPy convention in houston might be a good place to start networking. Academia may be a better place to look for employment as age and experience is valued more highly there, and there is not as much pressure for getting the newest, lowest cost workers. You might also be able to parlay your skills into a position at a local school district that would greatly enhance the value of education to students, but migh not give you the greatest monetary rewards.

Sorry about all the negative comments here, slashdot seems to be going the way of the rest of the internets. Makes you yearn for the days of great comments, and the occasional GNAA post.....

The old guy smell (1)

tbonefrog (739501) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277223)

I am in about the same boat. I have had a 40-year career so far, and pickings have been slim since taking a nice early retirement package almost a year ago.

Definitely stay in the public eye. Substitute teaching is a valuable service to the community, and gives you an outlet for your skills.

Anyone who has survived on their technical merits as long as you have is probably outside the norm of the crop of twentysomethings and an employer would be a fool not to hire you. (Note to employers who have NOT hired me over the past year: THIS MEANS YOU).

You have to do things to disguise the old-guy smell. I recommend trying to win government contracts, taking a crack at winning challenges such as at innicentive or zintro, and definitely snarfing up a few of the free, excellent, topical courses online from places like coursera and others, the possibilities are growing exponentially right now.

Work on open source if you are adept at something, or learn something and then contribute if you are not.

So you want a CISSP but don't want to relocate from your comfortable home? Get on Dice first and search for CISSP within commuting distance of your home. Alternatively, just set up a daily Dice search for jobs in your area and continually pester the headhunters about any job you feel qualified for, specifying in your resume or cover letter EXACTLY how your skillset covers the job requirements.

Look for opportunities to suggest to an employer that he is better off hiring you AND that recent grad, so you can mentor the kid in all the things he doesn't know anything about (UNIX, SQL, security, perl?) while he backs up your lack of front end development expertise. The employer will end up with two skilled employees for the price of one.

Oh yes, did I mention? Offer to work for a lot less than at your previous job, since you are pretty well set anyway. It will keep you from going crazy and fend off the honeydews. Keep working on something, whether paid or unpaid. Use and reference your web site to hone your web skills and provide a visible first impression.

Lazarus / Delphi / Object Pascal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277233)

I know many people will call Pascal outdated, but in my opinion the fundamentals are excellent. Rapid development, rapid and efficient code execution. If you are tired of waiting for C++ compilers or Java app servers, that is it !

ITIL (1)

drgroove (631550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277307)

Get your ITIL v3 Expert / Manager certification. Jobs for ITIL Experts / Managers start at about $150k and work up from there.

Apple Releases Safari 6 Beta ahead of WWDC ’ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277325)

Pick a different strategy (2)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277329)

Your skill list is probably good enough. What you need placement help. Check with local technical placement agencies.

Still, if you feel like learning something new check online resources like careerbuilder, craigslist, monster and the like. Look at the jobs that interest you and see what the requirements are. You'll find the holes in your resume pretty quick that way.

How do you start a tech career? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277411)

I know my stuff, and have a good education. But I can never get an interview anywhere. I sent out thousands of resumes on Monster.com over two years, and only got 1 Interview from it. After years of searching, I gave up and started programming my own games. This is what I'm doing now. Anyone have tips for someone who's career never started, but is still super talented in what they do?

Re:How do you start a tech career? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40278301)

Yes. If you don't live near a big city then be willing to move near one, like D.C (tons of gov't and gov't contract IT jobs).

Try expanding your search to include QA roles. You can get a job doing QA at a larger contracting company or corporation where you'd be able to move to a programming job later. Do that job and do it well. Make your own opportunities to automate and write programs to test the software (e.g., Selenium. etc.), etc. Be friendly to others. Make yourself valuable (if possible), but more importantly, gain a reputation as a talented and hard working person. At that point, most companies will definitely work with you to get you into a programming position if you tell them that is your goal, because they will already know that you are super talented and a hard worker. You could probably move after working a year or two in the QA position.

Rekindle (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277497)

or you want to say renook?

Three Options (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277523)

A: Find your oldest skill and try to find an industry that still needs it and has trouble finding people able to maintain old common lisp/cobol/PL1/... code using codasyl databases and such stuff... (boring but might bridge you to retirement).
B: Find a job in the Gambling industry it has low "ageism", they want people they feel they can trust (funny isn't it)..
C: Create your own company doing anything you like to, and people will expect you to be "old" since you are the big kahuna, and they do not have to know that you are writing the code yourself instead of feeding it to a bunch of H1B visas in your basement.

nb: Forget about "cloud" and other "mot du jour", you might blurb out the truth accidentally about the real issues, and the client really do not like this, moreover, the field is full of 20 something who think they invented it... and are willing to work for one bol of ramen per day.

What would you do... (2)

meburke (736645) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277595)

...if you know you couldn't fail?

I've been doing computer-related stuff for 47 years. I've rotated between hardware, software, sales, and just about anything in between. The bigest kick I get is making something work. Tech work worked for me for a long time because I was continuously getting called on to make things work. The longer I've been in the field, the more complicated the problems and, until about 6 years ago, the more I got paid to solve them.

My income has dropped 80% in the last 8 years. Part of it was due to an illness I contracted, but most of it was due to the economic situation. I have a small advantage over most techs, but the truth is that any fairly competent tech with a couple of year's experience could do 80% of what I do, and those techs are selling their services for $35/hr instead of the $110/hr I usually charged my corporate customers. It makes sense; It is usually cheaper to hire the cheaper fella and only call me in if he screws it up. That's OK with me, too, because I love being the hero. But it is getting harder and harder to make a living this way.

I'm 64 now, and I'm not ready to retire. (I spent all my money on wine, women and song, and I wasted the rest.) If my business doen't pick up by October I think I will see if can get into an Electrician's apprentice program. There is always a need for electricians, it is solid work, and lots of the low-voltage work in security, home automation, solar electric, etc. is fascinating. Plus, you don't have to re-train yourself every 4 years to keep up with your field. Cause and effect are pretty clear (most complex systems have failure built into the design) and the requirements analysis is pretty straight forward.

Another question might be, "What would you do with your life if you had so much money that you never had to work for a living again?" My hobby is robotics and I do some serious stuff. If I could make a living doing that I would probably be as happy as if I had good sense.

I would suggest reading, "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber before making a decision. http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/dp/0887307280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339362079&sr=1-1&keywords=e-myth [amazon.com]

Even if you are not interested in having your own business, the first three chapters on figuring out how you want to live your life are very useful.

Good luck.

next step? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277737)

DEVOPS should be worth looking into,experience it the missing link for most devops people.

See if you can help the Freedom Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277765)

http://archive.org/details/EbenMoglen-theAlternateNetWeNeedAndHowWeCanBuildItOurselves
http://archive.org/details/EbenMoglen-FreedomInTheCloud2010

Most worthy project anywhere in the world at the moment IMO

The other kind of networking (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40277789)

You should make a list of contacts and get in touch with them, find out if they know of any needs that you might fill, either as an independent consultant or as an employee.

I also strongly suggest using linked-in and building your contact network, your resume, getting recommendations, joining groups that might be useful, etc. It's an excellent business networking tool.

too old to care (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40277865)

39 years in the business? Capitalise on what you already know, there's scads of legacy stuff just begging for fossil support and crystal clear, complete and insightful risk/implementation analysis. Competing with people 1/4 your age and 1/3 your salary requirements will get you nowhere. Do the things old farts know how to do that young punks won't bother to have learned. Also, following trends is the quickest way to redundancy.

You meant... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40278043)

You meant "renook a long tech career", i guess

What is your passion? (3, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40278143)

First answer that question. What do *you* really want to do? The proceed from there. Don't just chase after the latest fad, they come and go and have the shelf life of fresh fruit. And fads can often end up as dead ends. Find out what you would be happiest doing. Even if it means a career change. Get career counseling if you have to but explore that question first.

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