So I’ve been looking at a lot of blog, forum and social media posts lately and seeing many people talking about learning to code in their 30s, 40s and 50s and beyond. These people are looking for support but often are met with negative comments saying that they shouldn’t bother or they are too old. Now it would be silly and nieve to think that agism does not exist in all different kinds of industries because it does. However, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You just need to get the message across that you can do the job or service and that you can provide plenty of value in the process.
A Social Stigma
Age can be a social stigma but a lot of good employers are really only interested in who can do the job as opposed to whether you fit into a certain social category. There are company cultures which might frighten off older coders from applying for jobs due to the fact that they may be working with younger developers who may not have the same interests as you. This may be an issue but it really doesn’t matter because at the end of the day it should be about what you can do and not how old you look. Commitment should go without saying.
A View from My Perspective
I am 50 this year and I don’t have a background in computing or coding I used to work in the printing industry for 25 years and then I decided I wanted out to go to university to do a business computing degree. After 3 years I came out with the first degree with honours and realised that yes I can learn to code and work alongside students half my age who did not judge me for my age. If anything there was mutual respect and we all became friends and helped each other out. I found that University was a very rewarding experience which I would recommend to anybody because of the confidence you can build as well as the soft skills that you can learn from such an experience.
Believe in Yourself
If you believe that you can do the job then don’t let anybody stop you from living your dreams. If you are an older developer don’t worry about seeing yourself as the stereotypical developer typically out there as you can learn to code at any age. Sure certain opportunities might not arise for you due to ageism, and this is just part of the game. Just give these clients and employers a wide birth as they are not worth your time or working for anyway.
For me, freelancing is proving to be the best fit. This gives me the freedom to work the hours that I choose that fits in with my lifestyle. The year 2020 will be an exciting year for me as I grow as a freelance web developer. I will be continuing to develop my skills because one thing is for sure if you can accept that you’ll never be an expert but always a student to web development and that technologies and languages are always changing you can remain a humble developer who knows that this will always be a work in progress and that every day is a school day (no room to be big-headed here).
Development is an ocean of information that can easily overwhelm anybody learning how to do this whatever age you are so it is my recommendation that you specialise and focus on a set of skills and in doing so so you will gain greater confidence in taking the leap to do the professional service that you know you can offer. For me, that is front-end development, but more specifically WordPress as that fits in very well as a freelancer.
If anybody is reading this is worried about learning to code later in life, then stop right there because there is nothing you can do about that. There is no elixir of life or time machines, so stop worrying about it. Just look in the mirror and say “I can do this”, I can provide value. To be older can offer extra value and soft skills that a younger person can’t offer. Feel the fear but do it anyway, you may just surprise yourself.
If you are an older person learning how to code and you have any opinions or experiences with this subject then please leave a comment below and let’s discuss it because I feel what I’ve overcome the major obstacles that were holding me back although I must say I’ve had my ups and downs along the way. Nothing is easy but it is all very doable.