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Tech's Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

theodp (442580) writes | about 4 years ago

Businesses 2

theodp (442580) writes "Universities really should tell engineering students what to expect in the long term and how to manage their technical careers. But since they're not, Vivek Wadwha uses his TechCrunch bully pulpit to give students a heads-up about the road ahead. Citing ex-Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch's belief that younger workers have more energy and are sometimes more creative, Wadwha warns that reports of ageism's death have been greatly exaggerated. While encouraging managers to consider the value of the experience older techies bring, Wadwha also offers some get-real advice to those whose hair is beginning to grey: 1) Move up the ladder into management, architecture, or design; switch to sales or product management; jump ship and become an entrepreneur. 2) If you're going to stay in programming, realize that the deck is stacked against you, so be prepared to earn less as you gain experience. 3) Keep your skills current — to be coding for a living when you're 50, you'll need to be able to out-code the new kids on the block. Wadwha's piece strikes a chord with 50-something Dave Winer, who calls the rampant ageism 'really f***ed up,' adding that, 'It's probably the reason why we keep going around in the same loops over and over, because we chuck our experience, wholesale, every ten years or so.' Well, Microsoft did struggle with problems that IBM solved in the '60s."

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Age-ism or just willful ignorance? (1)

mtutty (678367) | about 4 years ago | (#33408830)

I was brought into my current job about eight years ago, ostensibly to bring PM and SDLC process to the wild west of application development in my department. The mainframers wanted nothing to do with process improvement, saying they had everything under control. The client/server and web folks gave me the "we're different, old rules don't apply" argument. I asked around, looked through old documentation, anything to get a feel for where this group was at and what they'd done. After about six weeks, I decided it was basically a green field and brought in your run-of-the-mill PMI-style project mgmt and basic SDLC. Nothing fancy, and pretty stripped down since most projects were in the $50K-$150K range.

Fast forward to this year. Management makes a sweet offer for early retirees, and they take the bait. In droves. One of the retirees drops a folder off on my desk as she's headed out the door. It says, "Blast from the past...thought you might enjoy this." It was a fairly complete PM and SDLC definition, from two years before I'd arrived. No one (including the manager who had hired me and given me the task) had offered this to me before, even though that manager's name was on the approvers list.

Now I'm not sure this was strictly age-ism, but might this problem be more properly defined as a "green-field" syndrome? That is, that people would rather bump into the same problem than have to listen to someone else who's already been there?

Who wants to be an old programmer? (1)

radix07 (1889888) | about 4 years ago | (#33415516)

I am a young programmer/engineer, and while I love my job, I do not want to be in the trenches doing this when I am 50. I am 25 and already noticing it harder to keep up on new things sometimes either becuase I dont have the time or don't really care sometimes. But that's what management is for, use your knowledge of how the process works to guide others, rather than do it yourself. As much as I enjoy doing design type work it's exhausting sometimes and I would like to have a life someday...
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