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Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the not-unless-you're-an-mma-fighter dept.

Programming 418

Talcyon writes "I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support. I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area. I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era. Is that it? Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other people's/companies' software? I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others. Do I retrain and get back up to speed, or am I too old?"

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You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goal? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41562469)

I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others.

Right, this sounds somewhat similar to this question [slashdot.org] and you can take or leave my old advice [slashdot.org] . Some good replies to my post as well.

I don't get it. This is such a fatalistic and defeated attitude! Will I, too, give up the ghost at age 40? I don't think you're ever too old to learn something knew but I'm 30 years old and my idea of a fun weekend is reviewing a book on a new fledgling language or framework. And there's plenty of room for criticism for me concentrating on diversity rather than depth.

I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support.

I'm sorry. Honestly, I really am sorry. I don't like that framework, I don't like that language. Also when I was growing up it was largely a "pay to play" realm and largely still is (although I know I can get my hands on an express IDE).

I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area.

Again, a fatalistic attitude. It's possible you never found a good role of management for you. It requires more time but there's always a "lead by example" model for leadership. It's not as easy as delegating but you can earn a lot more respect. It does suck up a lot more of your time though. Also, good companies offer at least two ways to advance in development. One is management and the other is technical lead. If your company has technical leadership roles you could look into them.

Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other people's/companies' software?

Look, if you hate your job, get out of it. I don't care if you're 40 and have a mortgage to pay, start looking for something else that makes you happier than where you are now. Life is too short. You can't waste years hating your work. Support role will probably pay the bills but it's gonna suck, I suggest you give it a go and pick up some new languages in your free time and work on projects that you can host on github, Heroku or some VPS even if they are just functional and have no users. You can at least put those on your resume and say "I made this by myself and I can make stuff like this for you."

Do I retrain and get back up to speed, or am I too old?

It would be a lot easier if you were asking me how you get from A to B but what I'm hearing is "I'm at A and it sucks so do I retrain or what do I do here?" Tell me what you want to do, tell me what satisfies you at the end of the day and I'll tell you how to get there. That "or am I too old" part at the end of your question isn't even an option. It's quite inane, actually. How daft would I have to be to say "Naw, dude, you're forty years old, you're long in the tooth, your bones are half dust, you've got one foot in the grave, you're on borrowed time, give it up already and just roll over. Me, on the other hand, I'm never gonna be in your shoes, no sir. Gonna be twenty one FOREVER and Java's always going to be the de facto standard or I'll just YOLO out." I mean, seriously, who's going to answer that way?

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562525)

/thread.

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (-1, Flamebait)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 2 years ago | (#41563001)

Mod parent up because the answer is GP. OP was a mercenary for the bubble times and is not interested in tech, let him burn... Programming, like many professional fields, is one you have to continue to learn because the field develops. You can't just slide by with the crappy fad info your college was spinning through you when you were an undergraduate. This OP actually disgusts me a little and is a poor excuse for a techy...uggghhhh...

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (4, Informative)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#41562545)

40 years old is so young if you take care of yourself! I'm pushing 40 and I know as well as when I was 20 that tech is what I love to do and that's what I am going to do. I have noticed changes in getting older, like getting in the zone takes a little longer, but using age as an excuse to not get the job done has never entered my mind. Figure out what you want to do, and fricking do it!

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562641)

Curiously for me, I've noticed that getting in the zone takes less and less time as I've been getting older.

I've been playing tons of Tetris since I heard that "the zone" with Tetris is the same place you get to when hacking (feels the same) and it worked for me. Single pointed meditation was also alright, but less productive feeling than back to back to back to back T-spins.

It's about going for it, yeah! It sounds like OP has already given up though, so we might want to encourage that to reduce competition for our roles.

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562579)

I'll answer that way.. his defeatist attitude deserves the answer.

Rather than sitting around slashdot asking questions, I'd of been off locking myself in a room to learn something with a decent market share and something I enjoyed coding in. I'm nearly 40 and I tend to pick up new languages and keep working at it.

Like any decent career it takes hard work and a lot of your time to keep progressing. .NET is still a skillset with worth.. that is if you're any good at it.

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (3, Interesting)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 2 years ago | (#41562663)

As Anonymous Coward said, you just about said everything that needs to be said.

I'm in a partial management role. I suck at it. I've bought books on the topic and I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. But as much as I enjoy teaching other developers and learning from them - and I genuinely do - I like designing and writing code more.

There are free online learning courses at coursera.org and codeacademy.com and MIT Open Courseware for learning. If you're not ready to write an application for Heroku or Red Hat OpenShift, take a few free courses to learn the concepts.

Something I finally started to learn in my early 30s is that for most people most of the time, if you get really good at something difficult, it will become entertaining for you. Learning how to write my first programs sucked. Even working on code in a lot of my 20s sucked. But in my late 20s and now 30s I had kids and if I didn't get pretty damn good at my job, I couldn't command the salary I needed to pay the bills. I started busting my ass to go from low-mediocre to something better, and suddenly I was having a lot of fun. I can't judge my skills now, I'd like to think I'm competent but I may be barely past low-mediocre. Regardless, I can do a lot more than I could before at a lot faster pace, and I get to tackle interesting problems instead of relatively routine things. Those changes make the job fun in a way I never imagined even as a teenager dreaming of writing video games.

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | about 2 years ago | (#41562843)

If you enter the work force in your early 20's, at 40 you're less than halfway to 65, which is a "normal" retirement age... in other words, at 40 you're still in the first half of your career. No matter what you decide, it's not because you're "too old" that you'll succeed or fail. But in technology it really pays to like what you do and be willing to try lots of technologies, languages, systems, etc. Do side projects you like and if you find one you REALLY like see if you can make it your job. Or just find the highest buck-for-the-bang, slog through your workday and spend the money on insanely fun weekends and vacations. There are a lot of paths here, and I don't think Slashdot can tell you how to live your life.

(Disclosure: I'm 39)

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41562871)

I'd elaborate on the parent post, but it's hard to, since he covered a mountain of ground.

I'm approaching my mid-40s. I'm still learning new things, almost on a weekly basis as new things pop up. In my humble opinion, OP is approaching the question wrong - it's not "should I re-train", it rather should be: "...why did I let my otherwise continuous training slip so horribly?"

I know the answer, sort of. It's hard to get deep into a new language when the kids bug you with requests or questions that never end, and the wife wants to know when you are going to put that damned laptop down and cuddle with her in front of some stupid chick flick that you'll instantly forget once it's over. On the other hand, in this biz, you have to keep the training continuous. Slow down, and you fall behind... unless you specialize in COBOL or FORTRAN, falling behind too much is pretty detrimental to one's career.

As for the management thing, maybe it was just a shit position? I've done the management thing, and still do when the job calls for it... I find that the 'people person' skills are a minor (albeit powerful) part of it - the majority is paper-shoveling and leadership, coupled with a knack for keeping a billion disparate tasks prioritized as they arise and (hopefully) in deadline. I've seen asshats with a complete lack of people skills succeed wildly in management, simply because they can keep ten thousand different priorities and tasks all wired tight and done on time. May want to give that another go, but do it in a way that you report to other people - hopefully under people who are good mentors this time around.

Overall, yeah... it sounds like a life change/decision. Personally, follow what you love to do, and to hell with the rest. Dying a happy old retired garbageman or janitor is far preferable to dying as a miserable middle-aged CEO, yanno? It's your life - do what *you* want to do with it. Even if you (eventually) retire as a code-monkey? If you enjoy it, then for heaven sakes - do it!

Defeatist or reality? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562933)

I don't get it. This is such a fatalistic and defeated attitude!

The original poster wants a reality check. He wants to know a realistic path and idea of what he can do.

If you keep at it not wanting to be a "quitter" and never getting any bites or feedback, one eventually has to wake up and smell the coffee. And in IT, the attitude is if you're out of work then there's something wrong with you so get the hell out! So we're SUPPOSED to "quit" because we're no good. So, _I_ can't blame him at all for his "quitter" attitude.

The parent's post above is a nice vague motivational "get your ass in gear" type of thing, but offers no concrete advice and is completely worthless.

I myself was in the same situation. No one was able to give me concrete advice. Just generic pep talks such as the parent's and I didn't want to be a "quitter". So I kept going and beating a dead horse.

Here's my 2 cents:

If you do not have paid IT experience in the last 12 months, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get another job. Over 12 months? Just leave the field. That's how bad it is. I know - I lived it.

Moving from one role to another in IT is very difficult. Hiring managers want recent experience in exactly what they're looking for. If you do not fit that their requirements, you're pretty much screwed. I've been out of work for years trying to get back into IT, taking classes, networking, and I can tell you that I wasted too much time and money. Being out of work is the kiss of death and there's no way of getting back in.

Then after years of struggling to get hired, I was finally offered this advice from an IT manager - "maybe you should think of getting out of IT". Finally someone who was blunt and gave me feedback.I wish I got is YEARS ago!

Sometimes, the most prudent thing to do is give up and change course.

P.S. And the implication from others that I'm somehow defective, really wears on you to the point where you start to believe it. And I can tell you, the IT field is the biggest offender.

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (0)

Slime-dogg (120473) | about 2 years ago | (#41562957)

I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support.

I'm sorry. Honestly, I really am sorry. I don't like that framework, I don't like that language. Also when I was growing up it was largely a "pay to play" realm and largely still is (although I know I can get my hands on an express IDE).

This really is less than helpful, albeit typical for the longer-run members in this community. It's .NET, pay-to-play, and therefore irrelevant. That, in truth, is political garbage.

To answer more fully - age is irrelevant. If you desire to pick up the variations between .NET 2.0 and 4.0, just put in the time necessary to practice some of the newer things. You could also pick up C#, though it isn't absolutely necessary, because the positions open on the market lean more heavily toward C# than VB.NET. It's primarily syntactical sugar, you'll find, but some of the newer things are performed a little more easily in C# than VB. Some of the more exciting aspects of .NET lie in the direction of F#, too, which is pretty easy to experiment with (and fully supported by Mono/Monodevelop).

Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (3, Insightful)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | about 2 years ago | (#41562999)

Parent poster basically won the internet award for the day, heed his words.

Programming at it's core is creative work, and if that's what you love you need to stick with it a form that fulfills your passion and talents. For example, with your time in the field consider if you have what it takes to do more senior development work:

- it's not management though you will be responsible for code review and progress meetings
- you're less code-monkey and more architect which lessens the burden of bringing peak knowledge of new languages to the table

Q/A is also a relatively good side of things to consider. You need a functional understanding of code, but the work focus is shifted to your analysis skills on how real-world scenarios will beat the living tar out of someone's project :)

At this stage you're going to want to recognize your experience with software and the environments they run in as much as being able to make f(x)=y. It's very honest to recognize that you're not a people person, but that doesn't mean well-paying specialist jobs like what's above are out of your reach.

-Matt

I don't remember submitting this ... (3, Funny)

Spectre (1685) | about 2 years ago | (#41562497)

... oh, wait, I'm 46 years old.

Other than that, the entire original summary could be me ... spooky.

Re:I don't remember submitting this ... (0)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#41562741)

Same here - and the tool doesn't matter - the experience from old solutions are as valid with new, it's just the building blocks that differs.

And with experience you can do things better.

Re:I don't remember submitting this ... (1)

monk2b (693792) | about 2 years ago | (#41562993)

I turned 50 last month and I track pretty much the way the OP has. All of my previous management experiences where no good from my POV but others have told me it was okay. I differ from him in that I don't feel to old, in fact I am ready to try my hand at managing again, I am just waiting for the right small opportunity to open up. My motto as far as this goes is you are only to old when you are dead.

I am 45 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562499)

I never ask myself this question. When faced with a new technology I dive in, start tearing in with gusto, and master it.

If you need to ask yourself this question, maybe you are just tired of being a developer in general.

Re:I am 45 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562569)

One of those things to consider ... if you have the formal training and all the pendantic shit that came with that, have you considered moving into a position with your current employer where you're doing more internal training and ISO9001/CMMI3 whatever shit? Training is much different in the people skills category than management.

Re:I am 45 (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 2 years ago | (#41562879)

If you need to ask yourself this question, maybe you are just tired of being a developer in general.

I don't think asking the question is an issue, but how you answer it is key.

To the OP I say, go out an interview for jobs that sound like what you want to do. Go on a fact finding missing. Treat this as a project--first thing you gotta go is meet the customer where they live and gather requirements.

I'm in a similar situation. 41-yrs old, spent the last 5 years doing configuration and project management at a company that mostly uses OTS SW, and now I want to get back to coding. I've been through a handful of phone screens and a few of those 'room full of devs watching me whiteboard code.'

So what have I found? My troubleshooting and testing skills are razor sharp. When presented a problem, I know what I'll need that's been left out and what questions to ask. As I develop the algorithm I know what edge cases to watch out for and what special input needs to be handled differently.

On top of that, I've identified my weaknesses. I know I'm not as quick as I'd like to be. Whether it's age or lack of practice, code I'd like to be able to turn out in 20 or 30 minutes is taking 45 or 60. Also my OOP vocabulary is rusty. I know the difference between abstraction and inheritance, but I wasn't prepared with a professional-sounding answer the first time that question came up in an interview.

OP didn't changing employers or positions, but get out and talk to people. Is what you did back in the day so different from what the market needs now for .Net devs? Best way to find out is to ask the market.

I expect a lot of folks will tell you to dump .Net entirely. I'll say this, put effort in to learning C#. One, there's a bigger market for C# devs than for VB.Net. Two, they're really very close. More 2 dialects than 2 different languages. So going from one to the other is a good little project to get back on the techie horse and build your confidence.

Re:I am 45 (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41562939)

If .NET is as desirable as he thinks, tthere should be plenty of demand to hire someone "outdated" but aware of .NET stuff and bring them up to speed. Remember they are bringing noobs up to speed from scratch.

Learn some php and javascript (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562501)

Or python
or meteor

if you know how to code, you can find work, you just need to get away from .net

YES. DIE NOW. (1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | about 2 years ago | (#41562505)


Re:YES. DIE NOW. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562567)

You beat me to the punch.

Re: Am I Too Old To Retrain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562521)

No.

Re: Am I Too Old To Retrain? (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41562629)

Exactly, I invoke Betteridge's Law of Headlines. So they answer is indeed "no". The real question then becomes why "no"?

If you are too old to retrain... (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#41562527)

... it's not because of your chronological age.

Re:If you are too old to retrain... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562937)

I am 62. Wrote my first nontrivial program in 1968. Learned java around 2001 and have been part of large java projects since then. For the last five years I have been working in the area of bioinformatics and the associated big data. I also have been picking up large chunks of statistics and reviving my linear math skills in the last few years all as part of a VC funded start up.

You are only as old as you think you are. Just get on with it, life it is too much fun to restrict it with worries about whether you are too old or too anything else.

Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562529)

Have you tried developing apps for smartphones? It's very easy to pick up and many companies are looking for developers in those areas.

Yes, give up. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562535)

If you had any motivation within the field, you would have been keeping track of interesting areas and trying stuff out on your own time. As you didn't bother (life/family getting in the way doesn't cut it with employers), you are a classic employee that gets comfortable in a role and then expects the money to come in with "training" thrown in. Unfortunately for you, that doesn't last in IT, once you're out of a job, you're pretty much caught out for what you really are.

Expand your skillset (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562541)

I'm 35 and had been doing mostly C++ work for my career. I recently went back out to look for a new job, and finding mostly Java stuff, I got the Android SDK and wrote a few Android apps to hone those Java skills. Now I've got a new job doing Java stuff and learning a skillset that I think will be in demand for a while yet.

Re:Expand your skillset (1)

Terry Pearson (935552) | about 2 years ago | (#41562723)

I'm 35 and had been doing mostly C++ work for my career. I recently went back out to look for a new job, and finding mostly Java stuff, I got the Android SDK and wrote a few Android apps to hone those Java skills. Now I've got a new job doing Java stuff and learning a skillset that I think will be in demand for a while yet.

You did exactly the right thing. Pick up a fun, trendy, and easy to start language. The Android SDK is easy to pick up and can really teach you how to write good Java code.

I do the whole Enterprise Java, Spring, etc. job by day, but learn way more when programming in my free time on Android, PHP, etc. It gives me a fulfilled feeling and gives me the skills to advance my programming career far more than relying on my employer to provide training opportunities.

Retrain? (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 2 years ago | (#41562543)

Personally, I've never understood the idea of needing to be "trained" to program or build software or systems. Why not just figure out how to do it? If you can't figure out how to solve problems and be valuable in something besides VB.NET, then maybe age isn't really the issue.

Re:Retrain? (1)

Havokmon (89874) | about 2 years ago | (#41562683)

My first word in response to that is SECURITY - but then again, it's not as if the 'trained masses' are much better..

Re:Retrain? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41562701)

Personally, I've never understood the idea of needing to be "trained" to program or build software or systems.

As a person with many diverse skills but few accredited credentials, I can answer that - Most employers want to see that piece of paper that says, "This guy paid us a shit-ton of money to 'teach' him Subject X." I think they're called degrees or certifications or some such BS.

In other words, defacto mandatory resume padding.

Re:Retrain? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562737)

Here is an idea for the original guy. Say these words 'what do you want me to work on?'

If your boss says 'uh i dont know' move on or find something to work on that interest you.

Someone asked me a few days ago 'what language do you work in'. I responded 'whatever I need to use at the moment there are plenty to choose from in this project'. "you a linux guy or windows guy" "again whatever I need to work on in this project".

Again for the original guy you have cornered yourself as a 'I am a xyz guy'. Move up to the "I am a person who produces results using the tools I have available".

Specialization can produce very good results for your paycheck on a short term period. But in the computer realm specialization can get axed in 2 seconds by anything (merger, replacement tool, cut backs, whatever). Then you are stuck with 'starting over'. That can be acid on your resume.

For example I have learned java, .net, and python in the past couple of years and dabbling with perl. Not because I particularly like them. I think they are crazy in the pre-reqs department. But that is not the point. I need them to do my job. People come to me about my 'old stuff' (c, c++, tsql, atl, win32, mfc) I joke with them "i have no idea how to do that" then show them how to do it. I actually like the old stuff I worked on. But you know what I will not be able to work with it any more unless something else pops up. I have to deal with that.

If you stay as the 'xyz guy' yes you will be out of a job and replaced soon enough.

Will do! Can do!

Re:Retrain? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41562757)

Thank you, that was the thought I came here to express. I am somewhat older than the person who posted the question and when I need a new skill set, I acquire it. When I was job hunting for my current job, most of the places I interviewed at said, "Oh, we like your experience, but you haven't worked with X. We want someone with experience with X." In almost all of those cases, I was confident that I could pick up what I did not know as it was needed on the job. My current employer hired me even though I did not have experience in 3 or 4 things that other companies would have put in that "X" that any hire would have to have for this position. It has turned out that in all but one of those things my perception that the learning curve to understand the network architecture of a place I had never worked at before would be more difficult than that for the technologies I had never worked with before proved to be correct. That one area is one where it has not been worth the company's time for me to attempt to learn until more urgent issues in other areas get resolved (they did not have an IT guy before they hired me and things have gotten a little chaotic, I am gradually getting the chaos under control).

Re:Retrain? (1)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#41562915)

It depends on the stuff in question. For example, for expensive, proprietary hardware and software, sometimes it's not possible to just go practice on your own, because you can't get the stuff. I've had training from EMC that was like that -- proprietary software that ran on proprietary hardware, so the only way to get any practice with it at all before the stuff got there was to go to their training. Thankfully, that's becoming more and more rare.

Sometimes, though, "training" is essentially an excuse to give you a week off your normal job to go somewhere that you will have the tools available, and can play with them, plus get a book on how to do it. My Spring framework training was like that -- much of the time the trainer was lecturing, I just read ahead in the book and did the labs. Finished it all a day early, so when he did the "Okay, the last half of the last day is for you guys to finish up the labs" thing, I got to go sightsee instead.

Too bad your not a hiring manager. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562949)

Personally, I've never understood the idea of needing to be "trained" to program or build software or systems. Why not just figure out how to do it? If you can't figure out how to solve problems and be valuable in something besides VB.NET, then maybe age isn't really the issue.

Tell that to hiring managers and HR.

Re:Retrain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562971)

Right.

In my late 40s, I learned java (on my own), because it was necessary for projects I was working on.

At 55, I started doing linux kernel and device driver work, because it was necessary to what I was working on.

Thinking about digging into the bowels of Android now, because it's necessary to my projects.

Never too old.

.NET 5.0 isn't *that* different from .NET 2.0 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562557)

Which tells me it's not your age ... it's your ability. You have none. Oh, and I'm a 45 year old .NET 2.0 developer who has just learned .NET 4.0 for a new job, with a 20% raise.

Re:.NET 5.0 isn't *that* different from .NET 2.0 (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41562707)

Seriously, .NET 2.0 came out in 2005. What's changed between 2005 and 2012 that makes you unable to learn something a bit new? Even .NET 1.0 which (aside from similarities to Java) was basically a new platform is only about a decade old, yet you apparently managed to learn it. If you're asking whether you can learn a new platform, rather than just learning it, then you might be to old...

Re:.NET 5.0 isn't *that* different from .NET 2.0 (2)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about 2 years ago | (#41562779)

Seriously, .NET 2.0 came out in 2005. What's changed between 2005 and 2012 that makes you unable to learn something a bit new? Even .NET 1.0 which (aside from similarities to Java) was basically a new platform is only about a decade old, yet you apparently managed to learn it. If you're asking whether you can learn a new platform, rather than just learning it, then you might be to old...

Yeah. I saw the question and thought, "so take 3 or 4 weekends to write a few programs and catch up? What's the problem?"

I wish we could vote on Ask Slashdot questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562563)

Are you too old to retrain? Retrain for what? What is it that you want to do? Your post tells us where you've been but not where you want to go. It's going to be hard to help you without knowing that.

Too bad that we can't close this question as "not constructive" like we can do on Stack Overflow.

dude! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562575)

You just need to update your skills man. The language you work in is irrelevant. If you are a good dev you can program in any language. I just took on a >$100K contract for a language I'd never worked on. I've only got two things left to do, start and finish. No problem!

40 years old? Way too old, dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562581)

Give up. Time for bingo, shuffleboard, and "Golden Girls" reruns

Detailed examination of records shows that most /. moderators retire from their duties by age 30.

Train != Retrain != Versataile (3, Informative)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#41562583)

Your in technology, like it or not this is a field that requires more continuing education as a matter of course (if not law) than a lawyer or a doctor. You should never ever be retraining or training. Instead you should constantly be working on your next thing skill and never ever become complacent.

You can't afford to work in this field in a job where you know everything. You have to find a job where you have 80% of the qualifications so that you can learn the other 20% and expand your skill sets. If you don't you become the expert who is 100% qualified at something that was relevant five years ago. The expert who is 100% qualified is also known as tomorrows dinosaur.

Never, ever rest, never ever allow yourself to be in a position where you cannot be challenged. Whatever job you find, it has to be one where you are picking up new skills and learning new things - whatever those new things are.

I have also learned it can help to talk to your managers and explain that you want to start learning more about the business side or whatever else you have an interest in. It is called initiative and it will set you apart from all the other people that show and simply do their job.

Been there, done that (3, Insightful)

bfmorgan (839462) | about 2 years ago | (#41562587)

I was in your same position in my forties. An old mentor gave me this advice...What is the general area in computer technology that you like to do and then build on that. Building, in my case was finding a job in data architecture (starting position) and start doing and learning. This way you are interested enough to slog through the learning curve and still getting a pay check. Hope this helps,

"Retrain" kinda childish sounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562589)

Aww, techie made a poop!

Too Old??? Never!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562599)

Heck, I'm in my 50's and just got my JNCIA-Junos certification... after working on ScreenOS firewalls for years, Juniper is making changes and I just have to deal with it... Turns out Junos is not so bad, just new for this old dog. You can get yourself up to speed if you make up your mind to do so, and tell yourself that it will be a fun trip... Starting is half way there....

Too old? Bah humbug! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562607)

40?!? You're a young whippersnapper. At 54, I'm diving into Windows 8/RT/"Metro" and WP8.

Seriously, 40 is not "old" at all, except perhaps in somebody's imagination.

Already 10 years past expiry date (1)

dlingman (1757250) | about 2 years ago | (#41562623)

Don't complain. You got an extra 10 years. You should have "gone on" a decade ago. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074812/ [imdb.com] for details.

Re:Already 10 years past expiry date (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41562733)

Don't complain. You got an extra 10 years. You should have "gone on" a decade ago. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074812/ [imdb.com] for details.

I knew without looking that was a link to Logan's Run, but for some strange reason I was really hoping it was Cocoon.

What are you lacking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562631)

From .net 2.0 to 4.0 is hardly a big change. I've seen very strong demand for .net developers, it seems everyone is trying to hire more devs at ever conference I go to. Maybe your local market is different, but could it be more about "not being a people person" and less about your slightly out of date skills?

Buckle Down (4, Interesting)

Kagato (116051) | about 2 years ago | (#41562633)

40? Seriously? You've got another 24 years until retirement so you better get your head in the game.

Tried management? Okay what went wrong? Did you just hop in without any personal and professional development? Take classes, do things like toastmasters, you need to refine your skills.

On the other hand maybe you want to stay on the technical side. First realize you are in control. You let yourself get out of date YOU need to fix it. It's not like the concepts are all that foreign. Put your nose to the grind stone. Take classes, join open source projects, Most importantly you're going to need to change jobs. You are likely typecast as the old guy with out of date skills. Figure out what strikes your fancy be it more .Net or Web Stuff, JavaScript whatever.

I would only leave if you truly aren't enjoying computer work anymore.

Re:Buckle Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562861)

40 is not a limit.

I'm 40 and you need to try to find a way to get new skills OTJ. If you wanted a 9-to-5 career, learning the same thing for 20yrs, a family, and a sitcom like lifestyle, then you should think of a different profession... like law.

Like my Dad, who retired at DARPA said: I've got 20yrs of experience learning the same thing (ask if a lot of ex-DARPA folks really liked their tenure there).

Family (3, Insightful)

JeffSh (71237) | about 2 years ago | (#41562645)

I find the problem is not so much age but family. I've got 2 kids and I can't spend as much time engrossed in tech as I used to. This is depressing, but I rely on my coworkers to understand as I grow as a person into, hopefully, something more than the straight tech I was before as I learn patience and other traits from having to deal with my life as a father and husband.

Keep On Truckin' (4, Interesting)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 2 years ago | (#41562647)

I am 51, and currently enjoying the best phase of my career to date. Front end development -- lots of work for JavaScript/jQuery developers at present, here in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The best part is, I seem to be getting more respect as a Senior Man in my field ... mind you, that's not my job title, I'm just another contract developer ... but I hold my head high, let my confidence shine, and enjoy the generous measure of respect that people seem to give me.

Twenty years ago, my assumption was that I would be obsolete within twenty years, and that I should expect to degrade (as gracefully as possible) from developer to technical writer. That hasn't happened: I'm still a developer, and more in demand than ever.

This is only possible, I suppose, because I love to learn; in effect, I am constantly in training. If you have a similar mindset, I would advise you to Go For It.

Age isn't the issue. Interest is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562649)

In the beginning I installed fiber optic switches and cableing while working on a Comp. Sci. degree. After 4 years of programming for a grade I looked at doing it for a living but didn't like programming for money. I was able to parlay those precise, technical, problem solving skills from programming into technical support. Then learned what was necessary to move away from hardware to more software as an Sys. Admin, then moved up to doing Analytics.

In my mid-30s I went back to school and completed a different degree. As I write this I'm now enrolled in a Masters program and spend my time as a podcaster and sustainable living lecturer that uses my technical skills: knowledge of databases, operating systems, mobile platforms, and SEO, to generate more webtraffic, plug into social media, and get content to people all over the world anywhere they want it whether they want it on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Heck, I'll even mail them a CD if they ask nicely.

In the end, from my experiences as an employee in the trenches and as a manager, age has never *ever* been the issue with retraining or job advancement. It's one of interest and desire. If you are 40 years old and still like to pick up a technical book on a language and read through it on your own time, you'll do fine. If you are burned out on your job due to stress, family life, or just feeling old, then you probably aren't in a place to make the change necessary to fully retrain.

VB.NET ? Seriously ? (1, Insightful)

morcego (260031) | about 2 years ago | (#41562653)

(I'm going to disregard every single anecdotal evidence that is going to pop)

I started my career as an ASM developer, coding firmwares. Later I did projects in C and C++. I've seen serious projects in several languages, ranging from COBOL, FORTRAN, C, C++, FORTH, REXX, DELPHI, JAVA, C# and a few others.

If you want to get ahead in your career, stop playing with TOY languages. VB.NET is ok if you are doing a small 1-2 person project to manage your uncle's gas station, or something equivalent. If you want to work big corp, you need something that works for big projects. And that means more than just switching languages. You need to rethink your whole methodology. Software modeling, UML, the whole shebang.

If you want to be a 1 man shop, then you need to focus on reusability, portability and things like that. That means JAVA.

Script languages like RUBY and Python might also be a good idea if you want to go into web development.

So, what should you do ? I ask a different question: what can you afford to do ? Can you afford the time and costs of retraining ? What will you do in the mean time ? This switch is going to take you a couple years, most likely.

You need to understand your options a little better before deciding what you should do. Who knows, maybe a complete career change is in order. I'm a bit younger than you, and I'm working on switching out of IT. It is a 5-8 years plan. Doesn't happen overnight either.

Re:VB.NET ? Seriously ? (3, Informative)

tngaijin (997389) | about 2 years ago | (#41562787)

VB.Net is not a toy language. It is exactly as capable as C#. I do think it is uglier though. As to the original question, No its not too late to retrain. It never is.

Re:VB.NET ? Seriously ? (3, Insightful)

Rolman (120909) | about 2 years ago | (#41562907)

VB.Net is not a toy language.

Of course not. Toys are supposed to be fun.

Re:VB.NET ? Seriously ? (1)

iONiUM (530420) | about 2 years ago | (#41562989)

I do both Java and C#/ASP.NET/MVC4 projects, and I have to say, Java is terrible. I never want to touch it again.

Rag on .NET and Microsoft all you want, but I swear, C# is a very powerful and easy to use language, and Visual Studio is an amazing IDE. If you truly disagree with that, I'd love to see a logical and concise argument on the specific points that you hate about it.

Not too old (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 2 years ago | (#41562655)

40 is plenty young enough to re-train...or in this case I would just say "catch up". If you are already familiar with the .net namespace (even older versions), it's not that hard to switch to C#. I had years of experience with VB6 and VB.NET but no C experience of any kind and made the switch to C# on the job and have never looked back. While I still can (and have to to support old code) switch back to VB, I actually prefer C# now and will code in it if given the choice. I spent a few years in Delphi, which was awesome, but after Borland ran it into the ground, there just wasn't any shops around coding in Delphi to work for so rarely fire up a Delphi IDE anymore.

In then end, the advice is simple: just embrace C#. It's really easy to learn when you already understand the .NET framework. And there is a TON of employers that prefer or mandate it.

Yes, it might be too late for you. (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#41562659)

It might be too late for you, but age has nothing to do with it. This is technology... you can't ever stop learning new things, unless you really enjoy maintaining legacy systems. If you want to work on new-project development then yes, your skills are woefully out of date, and you have nobody but yourself (and certainly not your age) to blame for it.

Get yourself onto a stable project with a future, any project. Heck, even a support job as long as it keeps you employed. Once you are there, throw yourself into learning something current, preferably something that can be integrated into your now-new job. Even support teams have a continuous need for little utility programs to make life easier. (Although support may not be a good fit if you aren't a people person...)

The Problem is NOT in your ability .... (5, Insightful)

TechnoGrl (322690) | about 2 years ago | (#41562661)

When I was in my 30's everyone told me that I wouldn't be getting jobs in my 40's.. I spoke to a lot of people at the time who were older and leaving the business because they could not get hired. At the time I thought such people just weren't keeping up with the times or were just B level people. Wrong. As I turned 45 and older I found less and less people willing to hire me.

The problem is not in your ability to learn new tech most likely - the problem will be that people will not want to hire you. Why is this? Several reasons:

1. You cost more. Even if you are willing to work the same wages you will be perceived as costing more.

2. Your medical insurance costs to the company will be higher. Even if you don't actually use that insurance the company will be charged higher rates if they have an older workforce.

3. You will be perceived as willing to work less. Maybe you have a family or heaven forbid - a life! Unlike a 22 year old who likely has neither of these things you will probably be less likely to work 60 - 70 hour weeks on a salary.

4. Your boss will likely be younger than you and knows less. Hence you will be perceived as a threat.

So welcome to the wonderful world of I.T.! Now go away :(
Your best options for future career are to get out of development and into management or to start your own business.
Me? Eventually I opted to get out of the field and am retraining as an RN.

Yes (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41562667)

Now get out the way old man!

Oh wait, I'm older than you... All kidding aside, as long as you are still breathing and conscious, its never too late to learn something new.

depends entirely on you (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41562671)

First of all, I'm a mite suspicious that this article is a plant. If being behind on .net was a career killer, we'd have folks jumping off their squat, ugly tilt-ups right and left. It'd be like 1929, with geeks.

At 40 the sky's the limit. At 40 I moved to a different state, got a job in a different field (shifting from tech to marketing) got married and had a kid. At 45 I changed careers again, (tech management) and again at 53 (business intelligence). Age is a number. It's will, focus, and energy that's important. You can always retrain, regroup, and succeed, if you have the will. Reading your article, I suspect you're having fun with us, but if you actually feel that way, and don't just need minor assurance, you've already lost.

Short answer: You can hone your skills or retrain at any age. If you think you can't, that'll be true also. It's up to you.

Your job really did get outsourced to India (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562697)

Not to be an ass about it, but haven't you ever tried anything else than writing crappy excuses for code in crappier excuses for languages and even shittier excuses for frameworks on security horrors-filled excuses for operating systems?

Really? Is that really all you can do?

Then what you do is the quintessential example of doing those "simple tasks, like programming" that "outsourcing to India" was invented for cheapening down a bit.

What are your strengths, man? What is your unique selling point? If it isn't your brain, "retrain" as a janitor or a gardener or something. The exercise'll do you good. If it is your brain, then give the old brain crank a whirl and learn something useful. Almost anything will do. Experienced programmers of the type that don't get outsourced learn new languages for breakfast. What do you do? Well?

Of course, you could also try and sit out the last 20 years until retirement, hoping against hope that "they"'ll take pity on you and won't outsource your job. If you're in a place like government you might get away with it too. But maybe they should, to make you realise you've been stagnant for the last N years and are overdue to learn something new. With the bits of your brain that haven't rotted away (yet).

There's options aplenty. Shit, if you like crufty old stuff, retrain as a dinosaur herder. I hear you can make a pretty penny doing COBOL and you get to learn the tricks of the trade from even older guys, that they've brought back from retirement because nobody else wanted to pick it up. You should fit right in, and it'll be an improvement to what you're doing now, too.

Test-Driven Development, Cross-Platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562705)

Too old? No, you're just unlucky where you are just now.

Learn how to do Test Driven Development. Chose a cross-platform language/environment (even the venerable Java) and learn how to work in vertical slices, implementing features at a time.

Get good and criticising your own work, and improving it. Read and re-evaluate. Look at other peoples' stuff and evaluate their advice.

Learn something cool and cutting edge like scala [scala-lang.org] which will be like a breath of fresh air compared with VB.NET (and it runs on the JVM).

Get out there and look at new and varied languages. Read lambda-the-ultimate. Do some scheme, do some FORTH, look at D. Look back at C and assembly language/

There's so much cool stuff out there, and it will inspire you.

Ditch the Microsoft ecosystem stuff and get ahead of 90% of people in the job market.

Then decide whether it's time to throw in the towel.

Perfect for Management (3, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#41562719)

"I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person.."

Not people persons are perfect for the job, take a few breath courses, so that you can yell at people without exerting yourself and you'll be OK.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562729)

I am 50. I quit a job at a large bank at 44 as a mid level manager in technical sales. Got my degree in software engineering at 48, and am 2 years into my swanky new career as a avionics engineer. Sure I am an entry level coder now, but I love what I do, and wake up most mornings happy to be going to work. I NEVER woke up happy to go to the bank.

And code I wrote is airborne at this time, which is way cool (to me).

So, my answer is; Yes you are too old to retrain. Unless YOU decide that retraining is what you want to do. Then no, you not to old.

I would change my outlook from being a developer to a person who solves problems that you find interesting, and then masters the best tools to help do that.

"...am I too old?" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41562731)

Yes. No one over forty can learn anything. You are "old people" now, to be treated with contempt and condescension.

Actually, the fact that you have allowed your skills to become rusty so quickly indicates that you are not really interested in programming.

1. Go into management, or (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41562739)

2. Start your own company, or
3. Learn MVC. Unit testing. Factory Methods. DRY.

But MVC is mainly what you mean by "woefully out of date." That's the biggest wrinkle in the Microsoft world for you to get your head around. Get your head around it, it's not that alien.

http://www.asp.net/mvc [asp.net]

clueless? (1, Informative)

kipsate (314423) | about 2 years ago | (#41562743)

"I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era."

Implied are .NET 2.0 skills. Taken literally however, .NET 2.0 skills are not confirmed by this statement.

Why this unclear statement? I will conveniently jump to conclusions and say: this person is a mediocre developer having only done some VB.NET stuff and can't make the jump to .NET. Has nothing to do with age.

Too old !?!?! (5, Insightful)

byHeart (1408157) | about 2 years ago | (#41562747)

Gimme a break! I *began* my software engineering career at 36 after leaving an electrical engineering career, and I am still going full steam ahead at 62 (including earning a MSc in Computer Science at 51). I will consider myself too old for something when I reach 124. Until then, I see no reason to stop doing what I love. Ask yourself why you cannot do the same.

"Does Not Follow" (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41562759)

I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person

...

Have you ever met a manager who is a 'people person?'

Assuming an affirmative - are they hiring?

It's Got Nothing to Do With Age (5, Insightful)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#41562763)

I'm 42. I've been a Unix/Linux sysadmin since I was in college -- about twenty years now. Or I was. You see, last year, I got a job with a new company, and after I'd been there about four months, my boss came to me and said, "Hey, you know how we've been looking for a new programmer? Well, we noticed you'd done some programming in the past (which I had, in college for my CS degree, as a hobby, and writing Perl and Bash as a sysadmin), and we're having a much easier time finding sysadmins than programmers, so we're wondering if you'd consider trying being a programmer."

I said yes -- with the agreement that if I wound up really hating it, I could go back to my old job. In the six months since then, I've gotten up to speed with modern Java (last time I'd touched it was way back when Sun was originally introducing it) and the Spring framework. The programmer who did most of our DBA stuff left in the course of that, and since I was the guy who was least important on the programming side of things, I also got tasked with taking over that -- so I'm learning MySQL administration now.

It's working out fine. I've found that I can't do like I used to in college, and read a book on a new subject and retain a ton of it without any real effort... but I don't need to. I've got enough general tech background knowledge that I can quickly find out what I need to know, when I need to know it. The stuff I do on a regular basis starts to stick pretty quickly -- and for the minutiae, it's really enough that I can remember "Oh, I read something about that." These days, with Google, if I remember that much, I've generally got the answer within ten minutes. Often less.

Some of the stuff I'm learning, I'm having fun with it. Some of it I'm not, but hey, it's a job -- if I enjoyed it all, they'd make me pay them to come here. And my old knowledge is still coming in handy -- when the systems crew can't figure something out, they come to me to ask about it. My old non-Java programming experience still applies in a lot of ways, and my knowledge of networks and Linux is often useful as well.

Honestly, unless something goes physically wrong with my brain, I can't see me ever stopping learning -- hell, my dad's in his 70s, and he's still learning new things keeping up his hobby of restoring and working on cars. It might get slower, but really, the big thing is just to keep going. If you give up and stop, you definitely won't learn whatever new thing you're trying to learn.

If you have to ask, you're probably too old (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562765)

Sorry friend, I can understand where you are. The technical answer is, "yes, of course you can train yourself in up-to-date technologies". But if you have to ask Slashdot if it's possible, you never will. You need to have the fire in your belly, and continually invest in your own career if you're going to be in this business past 40. Trust me - I'm 46. If you're not ready to reinvent your skills every 5 years, get out of tech.

No. (2)

Hjalmar (7270) | about 2 years ago | (#41562775)

If you like what you do (i.e. develop in .Net), getting up to speed isn't that hard. The differences between .Net 2.0 and 4.0 aren't all that great. If you're worried that doing it on your own won't be enough, take a class. There are tons.

But your tone suggests that really the problem is you don't want to make the effort. I understand that. I'm 43, and often when confronted with the need to learn some new technology, I feel loathing rather than excitement. If that's your problem, then maybe it is time to switch careers. Congratulations on deciding you're not a good manager. Now find something else.

How long do you expect to live? (1)

jeffgtr (929361) | about 2 years ago | (#41562781)

I'm older than you and I think you need to change your approach entirely. I am in a constant state of retraining. It's a way of life. In my opinion if you don't learn you might as well be dead. It doesn't matter if you are in technology or not, you will still have to retrain. I think the question you need to ask yourself is "do I enjoy technology?" Do I enjoy writing code and figuring out problems? If so then learning something new won't be a big deal, it will happen by default. If not, well learn something else. I've been through 4 distinct and vastly different careers (3 successful, 1 a dismal failure..but hey I know I don't want to do that again) and I expect to go through at least 4 more. Otherwise it would be boring. Asking if you are two old for something is like asking if it's time to die. Age has nothing to do with it, absolutely zero. If you feel your brain is slowing down then start getting some exercise. I just never could get how some people could work their life just so they could retire.

62 and Constantly Retraining (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about 2 years ago | (#41562783)

Of course you can retrain. Buy some books and get to it. In the past few years I've learned several languages, tons of libraries, and many new concepts, all from reading and doing, no courses or formal training necessary. I can keep up with developers in their 20s and 30s. Frankly, I'm amazed that you're so negative about this at the still-wet-behind-the-ears age of 40.

Your success depends on you... (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 2 years ago | (#41562785)

Hey, I'm older than you are so don't let age be a barrier to your success. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what do you enjoy doing? Not what pays me the most money, not what hot skill can I chase, not am I washed up - what do you like doing. If you like coding, and it sounds like you do, then get some books or look at some online offerings. The good news is that .NET is object based so at least you're not coming from a COBOL background. That would be a lot tougher hill to climb. You might want to start out with Java. It has it's flaws but it's widely used so there is definitely work out there.

Another option for someone your (our) age is consulting. You've been around a while and probably learned some lessons along the way. That sort of experience is valuable in the business world. But I'm going to tell you straight - to be successful in consulting you've got to have some people skills. You're also going to need to be good at requirements gathering and have excellent verbal and written communication skills. It's not for everyone but it can be a very rewarding career.

How about a technical architect? You know, the guy that designs the solutions and hands them off to someone else to code. For that type of thing you don't necessarily need an intimate command of the language (although it's helpful). What's more important is understanding conceptually what the business problem is and how to use technology to get to the solution.

Maybe SAAS? Software as a service is the big thing now. Products like Salesforce and Workday, to name a few, are getting a lot of traction. Sure, you're going to have to learn some new skills but since it's so new everyone else has to learn it too. So you're on equal footing.

In short, find something you love to do. Once you've done that get some books or take a course or two and dive right in. Don't be intimidated by age or anything else. If I can do it so can you. Good luck.

Depends (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41562813)

What do you want/willing to do? It doesn't sound as if you really cared to be a software developer in the first place. You can't stand still with respect to your knowledge/skills and everyone knows (or at least should know) that. Presumably you went to school and/or read books, etc. to get the skills you presently have. If you want to get back into software development you're going to need to bury your nose in the books once more and then unlike before make a practice of keeping it there. Are you up for that?

Answer - No! (1)

Sesostris III (730910) | about 2 years ago | (#41562817)

As a 52 year old developer - no!

I'm currently a Java developer. Played with it on-and-off since about 2000 (when I was 40). However didn't become a fully fledged Java developer until 2009. Before that I was a VB6 developer (which I started learning when I was 41!). Next challenge, GWT.

What is more, in any other profession (e.g. medicine, law) where there can be rapid changes in knowledge and skill required, you don't get the issue of 40 (or 50 or 60) being too old.

You're never too old! I intend to keep on with this stuff even when I retire. It's fun!

C# is still a pretty big deal (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#41562821)

Seems like you could get into that.

Well, I'm 44 and learning new things all the time. (1)

davidsheckler (45018) | about 2 years ago | (#41562827)

Why do you have to be 'retrained'? Can't you just pick a technology up? I worked with .NET 2.0 years ago and recently did another project with the. C#/.NET 4/ C++ interop. Took me a week to get up to speed. Before that I wrote and android app and now I'm writing an objective C app for the iPhone.

Sorry, but I think the problem is your attitude. You should have been learning all the time, non stop. The fact that you're not tells me you need to find a different career.

d

Gotta keep learning (1)

RetiredMidn (441788) | about 2 years ago | (#41562841)

I'm 58. During my career, I have worked with PDP-11 assembly language, 68000 assembly, FORTRAN and PL/I on VAX/VMS, x86 assembly and C on MS-DOS, "C with Objects" [wikipedia.org] and later C++ on Classic Mac, C++ and Java on Windows, server-side Java for a short time, Curl [wikipedia.org] , client-side Java, Objective-C/C++ on MacOS and iOS, and I'm currently doing cross-platform Qt development while I spin up a new phase of my career doing independent and/or contract iOS development.

The thing that saved my career was the personal computer, which allowed me to develop new skills at home on my own time. A lot of my Java training was self-driven, and I am completely self-taught on Objective-C and Cocoa.

At 40, I wouldn't hesitate to go back to school for formal training if I could find an appropriate program, but until then, pick something that looks like fun (in my case, it's iOS development), pick a project that's fun enough to motivate you (even if it'll never get marketed, or even "finished"), and dig in.

If you don't find software development fun or motivating, find something else that is. On this anniversary of Steve Job's death, remember that life is too short to do something that doesn't motivate you.

Good luck!

No. (1)

miltonw (892065) | about 2 years ago | (#41562849)

The day you say to yourself, "I'm too old to change ..." is the day you start to die. I can't remember how many times I've made major changes in my life. I'm always learning new stuff and I will as long as I'm alive. It is never too late to retrain, learn new stuff or even begin a whole new career.

You are always retraining (1)

clawhound (811481) | about 2 years ago | (#41562855)

If you are in technology, you are ALWAYS RETRAINING. My skill set turns over every few years. I'm 46 and learning care of an apache/mysql/php setup. One year ago, I started serious wrestling with Windows 7. Two years ago, I picked up Powershell and dived into following smartphones. Three years ago, I picked up some SQL, lots of radiology technology, and VBA scripting. I keep up on Linux and Mac. I read about 30 tech related RSS feed per day. Keeping up with your field is part of being a professional.

Willpower is the key (1)

shmorhay (781528) | about 2 years ago | (#41562857)

Bang away for ninety minutes a day upgrading your skillset. Make this a habit first thing in the morning. An extremely useful book is "Willpower" which discusses the daily depletion of will, and how to compensate for that, and enhance it -- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/willpower-roy-f-baumeister/1100482735 [barnesandnoble.com] Just as folks tend to sleep in ninety minute cycles, so too is studying best done in uninterrupted ninety minute chunks. Microsoft toolsets mutate often, but they share a common design philosophy, so if you know VB and an older edition of .NET you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can "upgrade" to C# and the latest .NET. Forge the habit of an early morning hideout study period of ninety minutes with your laptop and a computer book, and work your way through tutorials. And whatever worked for you to get you to your current level of knowledge is probably still a valid approach. Remember too that you are over the biggest hurdle, which is understanding how the edit-build-run-repeat cycle works in your IDE (likely Visual Studio).

It's pretty simple. (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | about 2 years ago | (#41562877)

If you think you're too old to learn something new, then it's not your age... it's your mindset. In which case, a career change would be inevitable anyways. If you're truly committed to what you do in a particular field, you grab the problem by the lapels and rape it into a state of perpetual subservience. With your experience, I hope that only one of your parents was a deep roller.

Why did you stop learning in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562891)

Seriously.

If you're not prepared to spend 4 hours a week of your own time learning things that might help you do your job better or qualify you for another position, why would you expect a different outcome?

Sadly I've seen this same attitude among PhD level scientists who wouldn't read a book unless the company bought the book and paid them to read it at the office. They were all shocked and amazed when the inevitable happened and they were laid off.

Were you any good to start with? (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about 2 years ago | (#41562901)

With little to go on, I would question whether you were/are good in software anyway.

There are a lot of cheap, young, up-to-date, mediocre, programmers. If you've hit 40 and can't identify an area where your experience puts you ahead of these people, and your only chance is to compete with them, I'd seriously be looking for a change where what experience you do have will help you.

51 and still going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562913)

After working in C++ since 1992, I recently switched over to working in Java. Yeah, there's a learning curve. In C++, the standard idioms flew from my fingertips without having to think about it. In Java, I don't even know what those idioms are yet much less have them internalized. But I'll get there.

If you like programming, then I can't even imagine asking yourself whether you are too old to learn something new. Especially at 40! That just tells me that you aren't really happy in the field.

Too old? (2)

andrew2325 (2647845) | about 2 years ago | (#41562927)

One thing that I've learned in my 27 years is that there are a good number of older people who pick up things even young men and women can't because of the fact that they've seen so many different things in their lifetime. The question isn't are you too young or too old to better yourself, the question is are you willing to better yourself. People said there was no hope for me. They said I'd always be a drunken fool, but I don't get drunk now because I feel as though I've been delivered from it. It's true that I have other problems that were more than likely the root of that, but if you are willing to learn and move forward,you will. They tell alzheimers patients that it's important to do mathematics, read, and even try to learn new skills. Much like it's important for me to move forward, occupying myself with less things that have to do with the problem and more things that have to do with the solution. It's rare that someone learn a new skill or even behavior in one day. The willingness to do so is far more important.

Too Old to Retrain? (1)

mckellar75238 (1218210) | about 2 years ago | (#41562941)

No. If you can't retrain (and you don't know that), it because you've forgotten how to learn, not because of your age. The only way to find out is to try.

But be aware that, at 40, you've crossed over into what passes for middle age in the development world. This isn't necessarily fatal, but it does mean that you can't afford to leave a current job before having the next one secured. Being over 40, having an out-of-date skill set, and not having a current job (in no particular order) are all strikes against you if they apply. You can overcome one; you might overcome two; all three is more than you want to face.

Believe me, I know. I was laid off just before 9/11, with no web or database experience, and that's all anyone wanted then. I never did get back into IT, i spite of taking several classes, and ended up retiring out of retail sales. Even the hiring mangers near my age wouldn't take a chance on an over-40 with no working background in what they were doing.

And, yes, I KNOW that age discrimination is illegal. That doesn't keep it from happening.

Now you have experience and know your strengths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562945)

What you are going through is nothing new. Been there, done that... and oddly enough it was just around that same age. Frustrating, I know.

But there is good news. It appears you now understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Management is not your cup of tea, but development is. Good. Now get yourself a bandwagon or a niche - and exploit. Invest. Get yourself a MSDN license and access to the latest MS Dev tools and start reworking some of your old stuff to the new tools. Or develop new ideas. Lots of Flex development going on. Lots of VB5 development still happening! And maintenance of old code.

Don't forget you have another skill. What kind of software did you write in VB2.0. Financial? Process control? Leverage that skill. If you can't write the software, you should still be able to do application design, flowcharting, QA, SW audit, etc.

Example - if you were writing financial applications/reports - there are bunch of open positions at the moments at a mess of financial institutions to develop excel reports for the new post crash federal reporting requirements. I am sure your VB skills will come in quite handy there.

Writing that .Net software all these years should have taught you additional knowlege about the needs of your client(s). Use it. You have already once fixed the problems most are having today, put that knowledge to use in other ways.

You have a long way to go until retirement. Suck in your gut, set your path and go.

old or tired? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41562975)

Maybe you just don't want to learn how to type an iteration loop in another language, or interface to the database, or find a workable sort routine. So, consider moving in to architecture: hey coder guy: "iterate through this; we want to store the results in a database, the sort routine has to do 2.3M records per minute". You are not managing, you are part of the development team.

Personally, when my body and attitude made typing out code less fun than it was, I moved in to product management, and now I listen to users, add my own two cents, and direct to development (management and actual coders) on what the software needs to accomplish.

Give it another try. Sounds like you don't want to code.

I'm in a similar boat but.... (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | about 2 years ago | (#41562983)

I'm a 43 year old programmer, and I love programming. My problem is that my strongest expertise is Lotus Notes / Domino development and administration, which is loosing market share faster than the Titanic lost passengers. So now for my work I'm learning to master the Microsoft suite. But the reality is, best practices, techniques, understanding of the business needs, workflow, and design all transcend the languages you write in.

In other words, I'm only re-learning teeny tiny bit

If you were ever excellent at those things, it will take little time for it to click again. If you weren't, then you probably don't love it, and if you don't love it you will never be able to compete with outsourced guys who also don't love it, but will work for peanuts.

So .. If you do you love it, practice and play with object oriented programming techniques, update your understanding of the available tools, AND start with Visual Basic .NET since it's closest to what you are already familiar with. Anything you learn in VB.net will easily translate to any of the other .net languages when the need arises.

Again though, if you don't love it, it's never too late to find your passion, try something else.

Seriously stupid question. (1)

new death barbie (240326) | about 2 years ago | (#41562997)

What would you do if ./ answered 'Yes'?

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