Too late for engineering?

Microsoft / Product Perchance
Jul 5, 2018 28 Comments

I’m 34. My whole life I’ve been either and artist or a web developer (the HTML and CSS and Ruby kind, not the cool Node servers and React kind). Working at Microsoft as a PM with some incredible engineers for a year made me realize: software engineering is really cool. Algorithms? Weekend fun! Data structures? Fascinating! GPUs? IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

This is probably a career path I would’ve walked earlier if I’d just been exposed to the right people and resources.

Now I’ve got a REALLY good career going in web design. But some days I’d give anything for a job that would let me go to school for computer science and work with software engineers again.

Too late? Am I crazy?

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TOP 28 Comments
  • Nothing is ever too late in your life! Go get em while you still can
    Jul 5, 2018 1
    • Amazon 123raj
      Please can you also tell me how to get *ouT* of engineering?
      Jul 5, 2018
  • I didn't start coding until around age 37, was a lawyer previously. Age 40 now, starting at Google next month. Changing careers is easily one of the best decisions I ever made.
    Jul 5, 2018 7
    • Amazon 123raj
      How is life in law? What kinda people is it most suited for?
      Jul 5, 2018
    • I did not enjoy it. I worked for large corporate litigation firms at first and hated the hours and the lifestyle. Then I opened my own practice and did not enjoy the marketing/sales aspect.

      I think the best lawyers are the ones that have a passion for whatever area of law they are practicing in. I never did and am much happier programming than I ever was lawyering.
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Evidera / Other h8ywuj65
      Congrats! You should write a book or blog post about that, because I'm sure it would inspire the shit out of other people in a similar situation
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Amazon 123raj
      Thanks mooncalf for the explanation. I appreciate it. Unfortunately that's how i feel for software engineering. I think overall i enjoyed civics the most in school and by extension law.Although there is no way for me to get into it to actually test it out. So i'm confused that is it really passionate or if it's just a case of grass being greener. You know?
      Also i know it's exaggerated but still i'd much rather see myself in the series Suits than Silicon Valley for eg. I just dont relate to those guys.

      Also what do u mean by lifestyle? Is it too much workoholism? Expected to work 12 hours or so everyday?
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Yes, at least when I was at a couple of the big NY firms in the 00s, it was very much about living at the office and billable hours. 65-70 hour weeks were a regular occurrence.
      Jul 5, 2018
  • Google / Eng asshole
    Sounds cool, but not worth it man. You'll grow out of this fad pretty soon, and regret pausing / drifting from a good career.
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • New 4months
    I started coding at 30. Now sr swe at fang 4 years later. Really depends on how much you want it
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • Facebook depac
    Do it. You already work at MS. Use the people around you to pick up skills. See if there are any programs that interviews for non traditional candidates.

    34 is fine. Traditional retirement age is at 65. That's 30 more years of work if you want it. Georgia Tech has online Masters program for comp sci. Think you can take the non degreed course for free.
    Jul 5, 2018 5
    • Twitter PictureNew
      Ur at Facebook. Do you even need two hands to count the number of SWEs you know over the age of 50 at Facebook?
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Facebook depac
      Why so hostile? You work at Twitter. I work at FB. I'd be happy to hire anyone at any age that can do the job. Both of us know that leetcoding is common practice now, and many senior SWEs opt out of current interviews, opting in to referral and quick chat for offer if possible.

      I'm non tech employee. But I hear often from candidates the line "I'm not in University, I don't have all this time to study." Here's the thing, no one is to blame except tech leadership in every company. If you don't fight for a different way to interview that tests for senior level knowledge better, instead of novel algorithms that are rarely used, that's on you.
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Twitter PictureNew
      huh? I don’t think u got my point. My point is software engineering is a young man’s game. Just look around twitter, look around Facebook. How many old faces do u see that are software engineers? U can’t do this until your 65. However you can be a lawyer until your 65.
      Jul 5, 2018
    • Why can't you do this until you're 65? I think the difference is that software engineering is a newer field that has been rapidly expanding. It makes sense that most of the workforce is young. Honestly, you come across as quite ageist in this thread.
      Jul 6, 2018
    • Facebook depac
      I got your point. It has been well known how people in the industry talks about difficulty of finding work into their 50s. IBM also made the news as well for their recent layoffs and likely hood that it was age based.

      The flip side is that I also know of startups that specifically recruited older employees because of this. People in older industries, older tech because there was less competition for them.

      I have a friend's dad that works in software for military defense, likely about 60 and has been at same company for at least 20 years. Also used to recruit for mainframe developers, almost every one of them more than 20 years of experience. There's always jobs in entrenched legacy software. Doesn't mean to get lazy, just that opportunity is there.

      To your point on FB and Twitter. There are many factors that might cause older employees to not want to work with us as well. Location is extremely expensive, almost prohibitive for people that have family. Social tech companeis are a lot riskier. Even if both IPO'd, majority of senior comp is in equity and we're going to be more volatile than all cash comp at many older companies. FB, Twitter, Snap all saw massive up and down swings. Dot com crash likely scarred many to take that risk again. And startups. Nothing like taking massive pay cuts while nearing retirement age.
      Jul 6, 2018
  • Twitter PictureNew
    if you wanna be surrounded by new grads aged 22 making the same or twice as much as you then go ahead. Btw the shelf life of a software engineer is only about 10-15 years. So you would be entering this industry right about at an age when senior engs would consider a move.
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • Intel Voltran
    You are not late my friend. There is nothing like having a passion and desire to learn. Your past experience can help you standout. You can enroll part time or learn on you own pace somehow, while still doing the job that gets you a good paycheck.
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • Amazon bsjflsj43e
    There was a guy posted something here a while back: started SDE at 34 at entry level. So no, it's not late.
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • New / Other Nook Yu
    You can do it but be low skill some people have been training for engineering since like 10
    Jul 5, 2018 2
    • Microsoft / Product Perchance
      OP
      Yes. But perhaps I bring some other skills to the table that they didn’t spend some of their ten thousand hours learning.
      Jul 6, 2018
    • Microsoft JDwb49
      I disagree. Most of the developers I see here have zero passion and many are mediocre. Having a passion for programming can be a boon.
      Jul 7, 2018
  • Microsoft UYBc13
    Absolutely go for it! In this industry you have to reinvent yourself every 5 years in order to stay relevant. If you put in time and hard work you will shoot up quickly.
    Jul 5, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Gg1
    Forget it
    Jul 5, 2018 1
    • Microsoft / Product Perchance
      OP
      Why?
      Jul 6, 2018
  • Twitch GDPa
    If 34 is late, what about when you’ll be 54? And then 74?
    Jul 5, 2018 0

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