Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

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CobraKai
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Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 9:59 am

I started this thread last week:

viewtopic.php?t=248921&start=50

I had a little discussion with my boss about me not being promoted. Even though he beat around the bush, they seem happy with me in my current role and did not think I was interested in promotion. You know what? They were right. I was not interested in being promoted (at least not to management level although senior level would have made sense). Nor do I desire to play the politics that are necessary to get promoted.

While I can gain further experience in these areas in my current position, there is no way up in my current department. I could possibly transfer to corporate down the line into a more specialized position doing the work I am best at and enjoy most. That would require moving to the other side of the country which I am not willing to do at this time. Seems that opportunities that match my career interests are going to require moving to or near a larger city, however. The vast majority of jobs openings within 50 miles are for entry level help desk techs.

So now that we got this out of the way, this leads me to my career plan. Where exactly do I want to go? I wear a large number of hats in my current job. These are the areas I am mainly interested in:

Software Development (more back end web than front end)
Database Design/Development/Administration
Project Management

Is this too broad or should I narrow it down further? I currently wear all of those hats and more (although managing my own projects and not others), which seems to be very unusual in a job these days. It has been like this pretty much my whole career though. It puts me at a disadvantage when applying for a more specialized position and I'm quizzed on something I have not touched in awhile.

As for as learning and picking up new skills go, there is some of that at work although most of what I learn is proprietary stuff. I have considered formal education but the only grad degree around here that would be relevant to my current career track is the MBA. Is there any value in certification for developers or even database professionals? From the people I've asked, the answer is usually no (other than perhaps PMP cert). This leads to me to ask: what resources do you all find valuable when self study? Or do you just dive into side projects and learn as you go?

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jharkin
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Sat May 19, 2018 10:28 am

It might help if you give us a little more info about your role and what business the company you work for does. There is a lot of differnece between IT and working in an actual development org for commercial software. Likewise its very different working in software at a company for which software is not its primary product vs. working at a real software house. And there is also a lot of difference working at a web company (i.e. Facebook, Amazon, Goolge) vs. working at a company that makes application software (Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc) vs. a hardware/software firm (Cisco, Dell, HP, etc).

In other words, way to broad to give targeted advice yet.

As to degrees and certifications. I personally think the MBA is only of value if senior management is your path. And by senior I mean department head, SVP, etc level, not just a small group manager. PMP certification is appropriate if you want to work in a real project management role as part of a PMO ... less useful for a developer.

Other certifications that are useful are scrum (CSM, SAFe SPC, etc).

I tend to see less of the specialized technical certifications now than I used to (like Oracle DBA , MCSE, Cisco, etc)... and you tend to see them more on the resumes of people that work in IT infrastructure roles than pure development.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 10:34 am

jharkin wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:28 am
It might help if you give us a little more info about your role and what business the company you work for does. There is a lot of differnece between IT and working in an actual development org for commercial software. Likewise its very different working in software at a company for which software is not its primary product vs. working at a real software house. And there is also a lot of difference working at a web company (i.e. Facebook, Amazon, Goolge) vs. working at a company that makes application software (Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc) vs. a hardware/software firm (Cisco, Dell, HP, etc).
I would rather not to get too specific but it's a small IT department in a branch of a large non-tech company. I work on software that automates business processes (at least when I am not dealing with support issues, which takes a large chunk of my time).

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tc101
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by tc101 » Sat May 19, 2018 10:43 am

I've been retired for 11 years, so things have probably changed.

I had a great job using proprietary software. I stayed there 10 years. Then I got bored, learned some new stuff and got another job. However, when the second job ended, I found all my years with the proprietary software were totally useless in finding work. It was scary. I did a lot of self study and eventually got into contract work.

Some of the contractors gave me this advice -
If you know 70% of what they are doing, they will hire you and let you learn the rest as you go.
If you only know 50% of what they are doing, they will not hire you and you are in trouble
If you are not learning something new you should be looking for another job
You only need to know a little more than everyone else to seem very impressive

Those contractors were making good money and seemed to be having fun. I followed there advice and did pretty well for a few more years and then was able to retire.
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.

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tc101
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by tc101 » Sat May 19, 2018 10:45 am

I work on software that automates business processes
Do you write code in mainstream languages, like java, javascript, python, or whatever else is big these days?
Software Development (more back end web than front end)
Database Design/Development/Administration
Do you do much SQL, or the new, commonly used non SQL stuff?
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 11:08 am

tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:45 am
I work on software that automates business processes
Do you write code in mainstream languages, like java, javascript, python, or whatever else is big these days?
Software Development (more back end web than front end)
Database Design/Development/Administration
Do you do much SQL, or the new, commonly used non SQL stuff?
Mostly C#, .NET, MS SQL

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am

Certificates like PMP, CSM and qualifications like MBA do work to get you shortlisted - not much more if you dont have real experience doing these roles.

Proprietary software experience is useless elsewhere and you have to learn new tech. constantly.

I am not interested in doing that anymore or management(which engineer is๐Ÿ˜Š?). I am trying for roles which give me human interaction instead of a computer screen 24 ร— 7 - apart from domain havent come across anything else - have you?

You can do freelance writing/contracting but it is not very appealing as a real job is.

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tc101
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by tc101 » Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am

Mostly C#, .NET, MS SQL
As you know, those are in demand skills, so you could always find a job.

What do you want to do? What is most important?

Is money a greater motivator, or enjoyment at work?

Security or adventure?

Do you like where you live or want to move to another city?

Would you rather work very hard for 15 years and then retire, or work not so hard for 25 years?
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.

killjoy2012
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am

I think you really need to take a step back, ask yourself what/where you want to be in 2/5/10/20 years, and go from there. I know that sounds obvious, but very few people do this, and instead, stay "heads down" working and just assuming that their boss will notice their delivery, and that their career will auto pilot them to that destination.

IMO, if you're a developer, and really have no future desire in leadership (meaning people mgmt, Director and above), then an MBA is complete waste of your time and money. If you already have a technical bachelors, CS/CSE/EE, then I'd suggest finding your passion in that SW development space, focus there, get certs, work on those types of projects even outside of work (builds reputation), and just generally try to excel to a principal level SME. If you don't have a technical undergrad, then a technical graduate degree could also be beneficial. Then again, programmers are probably the one section of IT where degrees don't mean as much - more of a "check the box" in terms of "can we interview this person".

Now if you want to lead teams, then throw all of your technical knowledge pursuits out, get an MBA, learn to drink mass quantities of alcohol, become an expert in pop culture and sports, become an extroverted frat-boy like persona who can't wait to meet up with whatever exec level people are in town for drinks every night after work. Because generally speaking, the people that are promoted to Director or higher at non-Tech companies are generally just that -- people who know very little technically (maybe "just enough" to be more PC), but excel at the soft skills, and that's very focused on networking with peers and your superiors after hours, multiple nights per week. If your CIO is walking down the hall, are you the type that naturally wants to engage with them, strike up the small talk, etc.? Or would you rather avoid them, and get back to the real work?

I suppose if you were a Tier 1 tech company like Amazon, Google or similar, the lines may be less clear cut. Possibly more technical people get promoted to more people leadership roles there. But if you're working in the IT dept of a non-tech Fortune 500 company, I think my description above is pretty darn accurate, unfortunately. And if you fancy yourself someone that has both skill sets, sorry, your superiors will likely typecast you into the Soldier role, not the General role.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 11:49 am

gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
I am not interested in doing that anymore or management(which engineer is๐Ÿ˜Š?). I am trying for roles which give me human interaction instead of a computer screen 24 ร— 7 - apart from domain havent come across anything else - have you?
Nope. Part of my job involves interaction as it involves tech support. If I didn't have the programming to do, I might enjoy that more but it is kind of a pain going back and forth between heads down coding and putting out fires. There are often interruptions during the course of a day.
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
You can do freelance writing/contracting but it is not very appealing as a real job is.
I do like to write and have been told I am a good writer, tough to make a living at it though.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 11:55 am

tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
Mostly C#, .NET, MS SQL
As you know, those are in demand skills, so you could always find a job.
Just need to be willing to move where the work is. I need to start learning MVC as we don't use that at work.
tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
What do you want to do? What is most important?

Is money a greater motivator, or enjoyment at work?
Money is a strong motivator but I would say enjoyment at work (or good work environment) is more important.
tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
Security or adventure?
I've played it safe so I'll have to go with security although sometimes I wish I were more adventurious earlier in my career.
tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
Do you like where you live or want to move to another city?
I like where I live for the most part.
tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
Would you rather work very hard for 15 years and then retire, or work not so hard for 25 years?
Good question! I will have to think about that one. Although in this field, ageism is a real issue, so there is no guarantee of having a job in the industry for another 15 years let alone 25.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 12:02 pm

killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am
I think you really need to take a step back, ask yourself what/where you want to be in 2/5/10/20 years, and go from there. I know that sounds obvious, but very few people do this, and instead, stay "heads down" working and just assuming that their boss will notice their delivery, and that their career will auto pilot them to that destination.
Good idea! I often have thoughts about being self employed. I need to figure out if I want to pursue this or continue working for someone else.
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am
IMO, if you're a developer, and really have no future desire in leadership (meaning people mgmt, Director and above), then an MBA is complete waste of your time and money. If you already have a technical bachelors, CS/CSE/EE, then I'd suggest finding your passion in that SW development space, focus there, get certs, work on those types of projects even outside of work (builds reputation), and just generally try to excel to a principal level SME. If you don't have a technical undergrad, then a technical graduate degree could also be beneficial. Then again, programmers are probably the one section of IT where degrees don't mean as much - more of a "check the box" in terms of "can we interview this person".
I do have a technical undergrad so I have that covered. I am no genius by any means, and there is plenty of room for improvement, but have found that I have been one of the if not the most technically skilled workers on the teams I have been on. The less technically skilled tend to gravitate to the management positions.
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am
Now if you want to lead teams, then throw all of your technical knowledge pursuits out, get an MBA, learn to drink mass quantities of alcohol, become an expert in pop culture and sports, become an extroverted frat-boy like persona who can't wait to meet up with whatever exec level people are in town for drinks every night after work. Because generally speaking, the people that are promoted to Director or higher at non-Tech companies are generally just that -- people who know very little technically (maybe "just enough" to be more PC), but excel at the soft skills, and that's very focused on networking with peers and your superiors after hours, multiple nights per week.
That's not really me. I'm friendly with co-workers and always willing to help but not into pop culture. I am a sports fan, however. Most techies I've worked with are not into sports.
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am
If your CIO is walking down the hall, are you the type that naturally wants to engage with them, strike up the small talk, etc.? Or would you rather avoid them, and get back to the real work?
I guess it depends who the person is. In most cases, if I'm being honest, I'd say the latter.
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:32 am
I suppose if you were a Tier 1 tech company like Amazon, Google or similar, the lines may be less clear cut. Possibly more technical people get promoted to more people leadership roles there. But if you're working in the IT dept of a non-tech Fortune 500 company, I think my description above is pretty darn accurate, unfortunately. And if you fancy yourself someone that has both skill sets, sorry, your superiors will likely typecast you into the Soldier role, not the General role.
I do have good social skills but I prefer to focus on the work, so I've been typecasted.

tibbitts
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by tibbitts » Sat May 19, 2018 12:09 pm

I thought career planning in IT after 40 was called "retirement planning"...?

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Sat May 19, 2018 12:14 pm

CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:49 am
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
I am not interested in doing that anymore or management(which engineer is๐Ÿ˜Š?). I am trying for roles which give me human interaction instead of a computer screen 24 ร— 7 - apart from domain havent come across anything else - have you?
Nope. Part of my job involves interaction as it involves tech support. If I didn't have the programming to do, I might enjoy that more but it is kind of a pain going back and forth between heads down coding and putting out fires. There are often interruptions during the course of a day.
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
You can do freelance writing/contracting but it is not very appealing as a real job is.
I do like to write and have been told I am a good writer, tough to make a living at it though.
I think 99% of people over 40 dont want to do that anymore. Current trend is machine learning,blockchain,cloud,bigdata,mobility,analytics et al. - whatever language/framework you use.
I am exploring roles where I can fit - after being in tech and leadership for 2 decades want to shift into something where I would want to go work everyday.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 12:56 pm

tibbitts wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:09 pm
I thought career planning in IT after 40 was called "retirement planning"...?
Heh.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 12:58 pm

gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:14 pm
CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:49 am
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
I am not interested in doing that anymore or management(which engineer is๐Ÿ˜Š?). I am trying for roles which give me human interaction instead of a computer screen 24 ร— 7 - apart from domain havent come across anything else - have you?
Nope. Part of my job involves interaction as it involves tech support. If I didn't have the programming to do, I might enjoy that more but it is kind of a pain going back and forth between heads down coding and putting out fires. There are often interruptions during the course of a day.
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
You can do freelance writing/contracting but it is not very appealing as a real job is.
I do like to write and have been told I am a good writer, tough to make a living at it though.
I think 99% of people over 40 dont want to do that anymore. Current trend is machine learning,blockchain,cloud,bigdata,mobility,analytics et al. - whatever language/framework you use.
I am exploring roles where I can fit - after being in tech and leadership for 2 decades want to shift into something where I would want to go work everyday.
I can't say I do. I would like to be able to focus on projects.

I've thought about getting into the big data thing but when something is trendy, that means everyone else is getting into it. Maybe a software development background would give one an edge, but so would a statistics background.

killjoy2012
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm

tibbitts wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:09 pm
I thought career planning in IT after 40 was called "retirement planning"...?
I think it depends on the company. If you're in SV at a tech company, yes, there's certainly age discrimination. If you're in your 40's and have kept up with the new tech/skills and are considered a thought leader, I think you can do OK. But if you've just come into work everyday, put your 8 hours in, and let your skills rust... then, yea, good luck.

Elsewhere, at Fortune 500 companies outside of tech, I think age discrimination in IT is less... but you've got other issues to deal with that offset that. I won't enumerate examples here, but there other types of discrimination, or certain affinity groups given preferential treatment, simply based on what they are - not their merit.
CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:49 am
I would like to be able to focus on projects.
I think you mentioned PMP earlier. I'd avoid that like the plague. Current hotness is Agile - if you want to get in project mgmt you should be looking at scrum master training and the like. Waterfall is a bad word, and PMP is generally tied to the waterfall methodology. Don't shoot the messenger, as I think there's aspects of Agile that are absolutely worthless/dumb, but that's not PC nor what companies want to hear today.

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Sat May 19, 2018 3:07 pm

CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:58 pm
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:14 pm
CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:49 am
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
I am not interested in doing that anymore or management(which engineer is๐Ÿ˜Š?). I am trying for roles which give me human interaction instead of a computer screen 24 ร— 7 - apart from domain havent come across anything else - have you?
Nope. Part of my job involves interaction as it involves tech support. If I didn't have the programming to do, I might enjoy that more but it is kind of a pain going back and forth between heads down coding and putting out fires. There are often interruptions during the course of a day.
gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:23 am
You can do freelance writing/contracting but it is not very appealing as a real job is.
I do like to write and have been told I am a good writer, tough to make a living at it though.
I think 99% of people over 40 dont want to do that anymore. Current trend is machine learning,blockchain,cloud,bigdata,mobility,analytics et al. - whatever language/framework you use.
I am exploring roles where I can fit - after being in tech and leadership for 2 decades want to shift into something where I would want to go work everyday.
I can't say I do. I would like to be able to focus on projects.

I've thought about getting into the big data thing but when something is trendy, that means everyone else is getting into it. Maybe a software development background would give one an edge, but so would a statistics background.
See, any of the above will give ample opportunities - meaning IT will continue to have no shortage of job opportunities if you have current skills.

The problem is how long can you continue as a hands on player(similar to a player in any team game) depend on your motivation . At some point of time your body/mind catches up - that is time to move into other roles like coach,admin,support etc .

gips
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gips » Sat May 19, 2018 5:12 pm

Since you have good interpersonal, pm and tech skills, why not become a team lead? The role combines all three skill sets. Personally, I found my career accelerated when I started learning about business (in my case, wall st). Combining top-tier tech and business skills with strong written and verbal communication skills is a winning package.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 10:48 pm

killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm
I think you mentioned PMP earlier. I'd avoid that like the plague. Current hotness is Agile - if you want to get in project mgmt you should be looking at scrum master training and the like. Waterfall is a bad word, and PMP is generally tied to the waterfall methodology.
There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to Agile. It's mainly common sense... but you're right, there does seem to be some value in the scrum master training/certs.
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm
Don't shoot the messenger, as I think there's aspects of Agile that are absolutely worthless/dumb, but that's not PC nor what companies want to hear today.
That's part of the problem with the industry today, too much focus on tools, trends, and buzzwords....not enough focus on productivity and real world results.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 10:50 pm

gotester2000 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 3:07 pm
See, any of the above will give ample opportunities - meaning IT will continue to have no shortage of job opportunities if you have current skills.

The problem is how long can you continue as a hands on player(similar to a player in any team game) depend on your motivation . At some point of time your body/mind catches up - that is time to move into other roles like coach,admin,support etc .
I'm already coaching (i.e. training new people), doing admin work, and support....on top of software development.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sat May 19, 2018 10:52 pm

gips wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 5:12 pm
Since you have good interpersonal, pm and tech skills, why not become a team lead? The role combines all three skill sets. Personally, I found my career accelerated when I started learning about business (in my case, wall st). Combining top-tier tech and business skills with strong written and verbal communication skills is a winning package.
I'd probably have to jump ship and it seems like team leads in companies tend to e promoted from within.
Did you get formal education in business?

anoop
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by anoop » Sat May 19, 2018 11:47 pm

Think of coding as manufacturing of yore.

Hardware jobs are shrinking like crazy because most companies source everything from ODMs in Asia.

Moving forward, software is headed in that direction too.

I would recommend getting an MBA or a masters in financial engineering. That is the future. All companies must outsource as much as they can and engage in financial engineering or risk being put out of business.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by AlohaJoe » Sun May 20, 2018 12:25 am

CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:48 pm
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm
I think you mentioned PMP earlier. I'd avoid that like the plague. Current hotness is Agile - if you want to get in project mgmt you should be looking at scrum master training and the like. Waterfall is a bad word, and PMP is generally tied to the waterfall methodology.
There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to Agile. It's mainly common sense... but you're right, there does seem to be some value in the scrum master training/certs.
I used to be an executive at well known IPO type tech company. So my perspective and experience might not be relevant for other tech industries.

We would never hire anyone who called themselves a scrum master and anyone with the certification would be laughed at when screening resumes. On the other hand, I know the banking industry was paying scrum masters $200,000 a year.

Agile isn't the new hotness; we wouldn't even ask about it during interviews because it didn't help us differentiate candidates because every team everywhere says they are Agile now. For some definition of Agile....

Agile in theory is easy but in practice is hard. Someone who has never done it in anger is easy to spot in an interview because they're not able to talk coherently about things like ScrumBan or dealing with complex interdependent teams or Conference Driven Development or how include (or not include) Marketing, Tech Writing, Design, UX Research, QA, Program Management, Devops, and Recruiting in the simple daily standup structure. SAFe is not great but it exists to try to solve real problems that a cursory experience with Agile won't uncover.

If someone said "MVC" to me in real life I'd ask them what rock they'd been working under for the past decade. Instead I'd ask them about event bubbling, live binding, and shadow DOM manipulation.

I think it is a mistake for most developers to stay at the same company for more than five or six years. Sure, there are a handful of exceptions like Google and whatnot. But they are pure software houses who devote a ton to R&D.

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Sun May 20, 2018 7:53 am

AlohaJoe wrote: โ†‘
Sun May 20, 2018 12:25 am
CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:48 pm
killjoy2012 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 2:59 pm
I think you mentioned PMP earlier. I'd avoid that like the plague. Current hotness is Agile - if you want to get in project mgmt you should be looking at scrum master training and the like. Waterfall is a bad word, and PMP is generally tied to the waterfall methodology.
There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to Agile. It's mainly common sense... but you're right, there does seem to be some value in the scrum master training/certs.
I used to be an executive at well known IPO type tech company. So my perspective and experience might not be relevant for other tech industries.

We would never hire anyone who called themselves a scrum master and anyone with the certification would be laughed at when screening resumes. On the other hand, I know the banking industry was paying scrum masters $200,000 a year.

Agile isn't the new hotness; we wouldn't even ask about it during interviews because it didn't help us differentiate candidates because every team everywhere says they are Agile now. For some definition of Agile....

Agile in theory is easy but in practice is hard. Someone who has never done it in anger is easy to spot in an interview because they're not able to talk coherently about things like ScrumBan or dealing with complex interdependent teams or Conference Driven Development or how include (or not include) Marketing, Tech Writing, Design, UX Research, QA, Program Management, Devops, and Recruiting in the simple daily standup structure. SAFe is not great but it exists to try to solve real problems that a cursory experience with Agile won't uncover.

If someone said "MVC" to me in real life I'd ask them what rock they'd been working under for the past decade. Instead I'd ask them about event bubbling, live binding, and shadow DOM manipulation.

I think it is a mistake for most developers to stay at the same company for more than five or six years. Sure, there are a handful of exceptions like Google and whatnot. But they are pure software houses who devote a ton to R&D.
Why stop at Marketing and Recruitment and not bring the entire company processes under Agile - with offshore maybe?

It is such a waste of time - especially if you include Agile with offshore teams. We had situation where the daily standoff was lasting an hour.

An engineer wants tools and processes to reduce his repetitive work - setting up environments,auto builds,testing and integrations - CI/CD ,so he can concentrate on the business problem. For a seasoned developer adapting is not difficult if he has the motivation which reduces with age.

Everyday new fancy terminology is invented in the industry - I am waiting for Meeting Driven Development.

Developing soft skills is your ticket to transitioning in other roles after a while.

mrgeeze
Posts: 147
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by mrgeeze » Sun May 20, 2018 8:26 am

I worked as a free lance software developer for 15 years till I mostly retired 3 years ago at age 57.
Currently I do a little C# work for an engineering/manufacturing firm. Very part time.

I would suggest you really focus hard on the db/Sql arena.
Notwithstanding todays "flavor of the week" approach to databases, the relational database is by far the king where your work will come from.
Know it, respect it. SQL doesn't change all that much between the major platforms. You may have to learn a little PL/SQL to satisfy the Oracle crowd.
Learn just enough to gain their respect, then show them how domain logic does not belong in the data layer. Period.

As for a language C# has served me well. Its great for building exposable objects the UI people can use without harming the underlying Database.

Unfortunately many of those my age view software development as mostly a younger persons game.
As we age we often find we no longer wish to simply code & sleep like we did when we were younger.
70 hour work eeks really don't excite us anymore. At least not 12 of them in a row. Even when the money is good.

The sad truth is that as we age, a few mph comes off our fastball. This seems more noticeable in the IT world
Experience, cunning and guile often can help mitigate this.. to a point.

Experience, especially when used at reigning back the exuberance of non-developers (including management ) can sometimes be viewed as obstruction. Sometimes it is.
Finally, good skills cost $$$. As you gain experience you will want more for your $$$. Eventually you will put a target on your back as some (not all) will view you as high priced. I was once "replaced" on a project by 2 younger (cheaper) developers. I ended up billing over a thousand additional hours teaching the noobs how to write proper domain level objects. Both of them left for better paying jobs almost as soon as they became competent at the tasks.

Eventually you can make a six figure income, fully fund your pension and profit sharing, and enjoy a lot of living.
If you strike out on your own, you can find enough work so that 1000 hours a year (basically 20 hours a week) supports a decent lifestyle.
I did that from age 45-57.

Good luck

CobraKai
Posts: 111
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sun May 20, 2018 10:18 am

anoop wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:47 pm
Think of coding as manufacturing of yore.

Hardware jobs are shrinking like crazy because most companies source everything from ODMs in Asia.

Moving forward, software is headed in that direction too.

I would recommend getting an MBA or a masters in financial engineering. That is the future. All companies must outsource as much as they can and engage in financial engineering or risk being put out of business.
Seems like an MBA is a dime a dozen these days with so many schools offering them. That is the only business-type grad program in my area, other than Masters of Accounting.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sun May 20, 2018 10:22 am

AlohaJoe wrote: โ†‘
Sun May 20, 2018 12:25 am
I used to be an executive at well known IPO type tech company. So my perspective and experience might not be relevant for other tech industries.

We would never hire anyone who called themselves a scrum master and anyone with the certification would be laughed at when screening resumes. On the other hand, I know the banking industry was paying scrum masters $200,000 a year.

Agile isn't the new hotness; we wouldn't even ask about it during interviews because it didn't help us differentiate candidates because every team everywhere says they are Agile now. For some definition of Agile....

Agile in theory is easy but in practice is hard. Someone who has never done it in anger is easy to spot in an interview because they're not able to talk coherently about things like ScrumBan or dealing with complex interdependent teams or Conference Driven Development or how include (or not include) Marketing, Tech Writing, Design, UX Research, QA, Program Management, Devops, and Recruiting in the simple daily standup structure. SAFe is not great but it exists to try to solve real problems that a cursory experience with Agile won't uncover.

If someone said "MVC" to me in real life I'd ask them what rock they'd been working under for the past decade. Instead I'd ask them about event bubbling, live binding, and shadow DOM manipulation.

I think it is a mistake for most developers to stay at the same company for more than five or six years. Sure, there are a handful of exceptions like Google and whatnot. But they are pure software houses who devote a ton to R&D.
Thanks for the info on Agile.
There was never any pressure by my employer to use Agile or the like. All they care about is the finished product and whether or not it creates value. I have developed many applications in VB.NET that my employer was happy with. I later switched to C# with that being a more "in demand" skill. There is not much demand for VB.NET developers. I probably should have left 5 years ago.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sun May 20, 2018 10:30 am

mrgeeze wrote: โ†‘
Sun May 20, 2018 8:26 am
I worked as a free lance software developer for 15 years till I mostly retired 3 years ago at age 57.
Currently I do a little C# work for an engineering/manufacturing firm. Very part time.

I would suggest you really focus hard on the db/Sql arena.
Notwithstanding todays "flavor of the week" approach to databases, the relational database is by far the king where your work will come from.
Know it, respect it. SQL doesn't change all that much between the major platforms. You may have to learn a little PL/SQL to satisfy the Oracle crowd.
Learn just enough to gain their respect, then show them how domain logic does not belong in the data layer. Period.

As for a language C# has served me well. Its great for building exposable objects the UI people can use without harming the underlying Database.

Unfortunately many of those my age view software development as mostly a younger persons game.
As we age we often find we no longer wish to simply code & sleep like we did when we were younger.
70 hour work eeks really don't excite us anymore. At least not 12 of them in a row. Even when the money is good.

The sad truth is that as we age, a few mph comes off our fastball. This seems more noticeable in the IT world
Experience, cunning and guile often can help mitigate this.. to a point.

Experience, especially when used at reigning back the exuberance of non-developers (including management ) can sometimes be viewed as obstruction. Sometimes it is.
Finally, good skills cost $$$. As you gain experience you will want more for your $$$. Eventually you will put a target on your back as some (not all) will view you as high priced. I was once "replaced" on a project by 2 younger (cheaper) developers. I ended up billing over a thousand additional hours teaching the noobs how to write proper domain level objects. Both of them left for better paying jobs almost as soon as they became competent at the tasks.

Eventually you can make a six figure income, fully fund your pension and profit sharing, and enjoy a lot of living.
If you strike out on your own, you can find enough work so that 1000 hours a year (basically 20 hours a week) supports a decent lifestyle.
I did that from age 45-57.

Good luck
I like the idea of freelance development. What made you decide to go freelance?

I am most interested in the databases. Would you say there is any value of database certification?

No desire to work 70 hour work weeks, or go much higher than 40, for that matter.

blevine
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by blevine » Sun May 20, 2018 12:13 pm

tibbitts wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 12:09 pm
I thought career planning in IT after 40 was called "retirement planning"...?
How true, though for me that was over 50, not 40.

For me it was all about balancing money, work satisfaction and family.
It is hard to find a good balance.

Satisfaction in coding, satisfaction in promotion to management, hopefully you have the option, but neither is perfect.
Moving up requires time, whether tech or managerial tracks. I was successful at both, but only due to excessive efforts.
Not great for family life. At some point when I had a family, did the best I could to juggle both, but at some point you can't
make the progress you made when fully dedicated early in your career, if you actively participate in family life. I wanted to coach
sports, go to school teacher conferences etc. Limited further advancement, but I was able to position myself to make good money
based on a combo of industry expertise, technical background and managerial success. Could have made more if I was willing to make
more sacrifices (relocate for the best job available, work more hours etc). I was happy with my decision in my 40s, taking balance over maximizing "success" at work, but now in my 50s, kids away in college, it's a bitter pill to swallow seeing others who made different decisions and/or younger people still moving up because they have not made an adjustment that they may later make. But I made decisions thoughtfully, no regrets.
Made a good living in middle management, know my days are numbered, and invested accordingly.

gips
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gips » Sun May 20, 2018 12:23 pm

CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:52 pm
gips wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 5:12 pm
Since you have good interpersonal, pm and tech skills, why not become a team lead? The role combines all three skill sets. Personally, I found my career accelerated when I started learning about business (in my case, wall st). Combining top-tier tech and business skills with strong written and verbal communication skills is a winning package.
I'd probably have to jump ship and it seems like team leads in companies tend to e promoted from within.
Did you get formal education in business?
Yes, I did take some finance classes but didnโ€™t get/want an mba (I have an ms in cs). The classes enabled me to start talking intelligently to the business (after all, we solve business problems). From there I read a lot, asked a lot of questions. At the point I really understood the business and leveraged strong tech skills, my career took off.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Sun May 20, 2018 9:48 pm

gips wrote: โ†‘
Sun May 20, 2018 12:23 pm
CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 10:52 pm
gips wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 5:12 pm
Since you have good interpersonal, pm and tech skills, why not become a team lead? The role combines all three skill sets. Personally, I found my career accelerated when I started learning about business (in my case, wall st). Combining top-tier tech and business skills with strong written and verbal communication skills is a winning package.
I'd probably have to jump ship and it seems like team leads in companies tend to e promoted from within.
Did you get formal education in business?
Yes, I did take some finance classes but didnโ€™t get/want an mba (I have an ms in cs). The classes enabled me to start talking intelligently to the business (after all, we solve business problems). From there I read a lot, asked a lot of questions. At the point I really understood the business and leveraged strong tech skills, my career took off.
From what I've heard, it's not worth paying for an MBA oneself unless it's from it's a top 10 or 20 school. My employer has tuition reimbursement, but considering that the only two individuals in the department who have been fired over the years (not laid off but fired) were my only two non management co-workers with MBAs, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to even ask.

I have talked business with managers in other departments many times....and started doing that from day one, being involved in project meetings. Whether it's due to the company structure or politics or whatever, it seems like no matter how much I accomplish or what I do to improve myself, it doesn't really matter a whole lot. They like me in my current role and that's that.

mrgeeze
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by mrgeeze » Mon May 21, 2018 8:42 am

AlohaJoe wrote: โ†‘
Sun May 20, 2018 12:25 am

If someone said "MVC" to me in real life I'd ask them what rock they'd been working under for the past decade. Instead I'd ask them about event bubbling, live binding, and shadow DOM manipulation.

I think it is a mistake for most developers to stay at the same company for more than five or six years. Sure, there are a handful of exceptions like Google and whatnot. But they are pure software houses who devote a ton to R&D.
The following are opinions.

Can't help but chuckle.
Apple's current approach to IOS development using Swift (Zamarin ,etc) is absolutely MVC.
Seems to work just fine.

Most web architecture seems to be MVC with a very terrible view.
Except where its absolutely client server.

Most database applications use the relational model created over 50 years ago.
SQL is still far from dead.

What is old is now new. The undeniable truth in IT.
Bleeding edge generally ends up on the heap.
Fun to learn, fun to use, easily forgotten for the next big thing that isn't.
Truth is, A career in IT has a lot of groundhog days.

Switching gears, staying in one place too long can be deadly.
Moving around every 3-5 year may be a good idea.
Moving around too often (1-2 years) will probably raise some eyebrows from prospective employers.
In my line work it often takes 6months or more to get a competent developer hitting on all cylinders.

Finally, resist the temptation to get certified. I believe it breeds a certain complacency and laziness.
I realize corporate IT loves this stuff. It will make you some $$ short run.
Yet, I don't think it necessarily makes you a better developer.
When I was hiring, a resume with lots of certs went straight in the basket.... we used to have baskets way back when.

I believe it is more important to work with really skilled (smarter than you) developers than anything else.
They will test your skill set every day. They will add to your skill set so one day you will not be the grasshoppah.
Then you can take the pebble from the hand.

Best of luck.

CobraKai
Posts: 111
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Mon May 21, 2018 11:40 am

mrgeeze wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 8:42 am
Switching gears, staying in one place too long can be deadly.
Moving around every 3-5 year may be a good idea.
Some of us developed that old school mentality that a company will reward you for loyalty. I should have moved to the city and done more job hopping earlier in my career rather than buy a house and get tied down to one location.
mrgeeze wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 8:42 am
Finally, resist the temptation to get certified. I believe it breeds a certain complacency and laziness.
I realize corporate IT loves this stuff. It will make you some $$ short run.
Yet, I don't think it necessarily makes you a better developer.
When I was hiring, a resume with lots of certs went straight in the basket.... we used to have baskets way back when.
Interesting. I see very few developer job ads that is looking for someone with certs. Network admin job ads often ask for certs.
mrgeeze wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 8:42 am
I believe it is more important to work with really skilled (smarter than you) developers than anything else.
In the department I work in, I have either been the most skilled or one of the most skilled in the group.

rgs92
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by rgs92 » Mon May 21, 2018 11:49 am

This what happened to most of the people I knew in corp. IT (telecom) at any skill level or job-type:

1. Let go around age 50.
2. Get a series of contracting gigs with a few months in-between each one because no direct-employee positions are available to people that age.
3. Failure to find anything in the age 55-60 range.
4. Never work again and often move to a LCOL down south.
5. Scrape by on SS at 62 and whatever portfolio/severance/cash-balance/diminished pension for good.

I must know a 100 or more people directly who went down this route. It seems extremely common.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Mon May 21, 2018 12:06 pm

rgs92 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 11:49 am
This what happened to most of the people I knew in corp. IT (telecom) at any skill level or job-type:

1. Let go around age 50.
2. Get a series of contracting gigs with a few months in-between each one because no direct-employee positions are available to people that age.
3. Failure to find anything in the age 55-60 range.
4. Never work again and often move to a LCOL down south.
5. Scrape by on SS at 62 and whatever portfolio/severance/cash-balance/diminished pension for good.

I must know a 100 or more people directly who went down this route. It seems extremely common.
There are a couple of techie forums I frequent with individuals in similar situations. There are others who manage to avoid it but tech is more of a young person's field.

Any suggestions on preparing for it other than saving and investing Bogleheads-style? Is it too late to change careers in ones 40s to a less ageist field?

rgs92
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by rgs92 » Mon May 21, 2018 12:30 pm

anoop wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:47 pm
Think of coding as manufacturing of yore.

Hardware jobs are shrinking like crazy because most companies source everything from ODMs in Asia.

Moving forward, software is headed in that direction too.

I would recommend getting an MBA or a masters in financial engineering. That is the future. All companies must outsource as much as they can and engage in financial engineering or risk being put out of business.
So true.

Since you are still young enough to be employable and currently have a job (which is the key to being employable), see if you can get some sort of gov't job, especially through networking if you know anybody. That's the holy grail of jobs these days.

If by any chance you have any interest in trades (plumbing/HVAC/etc.), there is always a need for that and it's growing and you can work anywhere.

As for I.T., I do know people who do systems admin or (or DB admin, especially Oracle, which is the one old technology that seems to still survive and thrive since it's so embedded) and seem to always find work (often contracting gigs, but that's the way of the world now).

I would definitely move away from straight coding jobs, as noted in the comments I quoted above.

The system admin thing (and other support jobs) are significantly less prone to outsourcing or offshoring I have seen anecdotally.

MtnTraveler
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by MtnTraveler » Mon May 21, 2018 3:13 pm

What I've seen is that at 40 (or at least in my neck of the woods) companies expect a person to have specialized knowledge. Either it's software used in their industry, policies that govern their industry, or platforms (cloud-based) used. The first two you'll only have x years of experience if you are already in that industry so only the 3rd one (platforms) is really an open avenue. As a hiring manager I have problems because I can only look for people who know and meet the policies of this industry and people outside of the industry don't even bother to apply even though I can do conditional employment. As someone who'd like to get experience outside of this industry I can't because this is all I know so I don't meet middle level engineer/low-level manager requirements for other industries. It's a real catch-22.

anoop
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by anoop » Mon May 21, 2018 4:01 pm

rgs92 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 12:30 pm
The system admin thing (and other support jobs) are significantly less prone to outsourcing or offshoring I have seen anecdotally.
This is not true. A good chunk of IT support is now done from off shore locations. Only things like replacing hardware are done locally.

As far as enterprises go, public cloud will change the expertise needed and virtually eliminate the need for on-site IT support. I am not a big fan of public cloud, but it's going to happen regardless of the security risks, because the people that have the power to make decisions on these things are too myopic.

I am actually saddened by all the organizations encouraging STEM majors and organizations like "girls who code". They are trying to sell something to kids that is essentially a dead end. FIRE (finance, insurance, real-estate) is the way to go. Financial engineering and knowing how to hedge for various policy and economic outcomes is the future.

I recently saw an ad from a company that would like you to lease your towels.
https://www.coyuchi.com/subscribe
You need someone with the expertise to figure out how to price something like this.

And so it is every business they try to move to a subscription model. Those that are able to pull it off are being handsomely rewarded. Those that aren't able to make the transition are being put out of business.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by greg24 » Mon May 21, 2018 4:26 pm

anoop wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 4:01 pm
I am actually saddened by all the organizations encouraging STEM majors and organizations like "girls who code". They are trying to sell something to kids that is essentially a dead end. FIRE (finance, insurance, real-estate) is the way to go. Financial engineering and knowing how to hedge for various policy and economic outcomes is the future.
Oh, come on. STEM isn't a dead end. Possibly reduced importance or income possibilities, but the world is still constantly moving towards a technological future.

Insurance and real estate is the future? C'mon. Those things are automated much more easily than most of tech.

anoop
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by anoop » Mon May 21, 2018 4:36 pm

greg24 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 4:26 pm
Oh, come on. STEM isn't a dead end. Possibly reduced importance or income possibilities, but the world is still constantly moving towards a technological future.

Insurance and real estate is the future? C'mon. Those things are automated much more easily than most of tech.
It's a dead end for a career in the US. May be a good idea if you're in Asia. We need shoes, but they come from Asia. Nobody is saying we won't need shoes in the future. Likewise, we will need technology, but it will come from Asia. It is already impossible to do high tech manufacturing in the US because the skills don't exist here anymore. If you want to build a custom chip today, where do you go? If you want to get an iPhone app built, where do you go? (Or where does the person you go to go to get it done...)

When I say insurance and real-estate I'm talking about the financial engineering that goes behind them. Knowing how to assess and price deals in a given economic and monetary environment. I know a lot of mid 40's engineers out of a job, and even more that are now working for Asian companies after being laid off (during an all time high in the stock market) by US companies.
Last edited by anoop on Mon May 21, 2018 7:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Shackleton
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by Shackleton » Mon May 21, 2018 4:54 pm

tc101 wrote: โ†‘
Sat May 19, 2018 11:28 am
Mostly C#, .NET, MS SQL
As you know, those are in demand skills, so you could always find a job.

What do you want to do? What is most important?

Is money a greater motivator, or enjoyment at work?

Security or adventure?

Do you like where you live or want to move to another city?

Would you rather work very hard for 15 years and then retire, or work not so hard for 25 years?
Those are great questions! You should be a career coach!
โ€œSuperhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results.โ€ ~Ernest Shackleton

rgs92
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by rgs92 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:34 pm

Excellent post above Anoop. Thanks for the feedback and the the other comments about the current popularized advice about how coding is the key to unlimited success. Yep, times have changed.
Again, that was a very well-written and astute post that anyone in this field (or interested in it) should read.

I actually know someone who has been working successfully on his own writing original iPhone apps and selling them but can't seem to get a job anywhere using this skill. He's got a good education, too.
So if someone with a skill that I think is in high demand can't find a job in the US, that says a lot I think. Again, this is just anecdotal.

Now you've got me thinking I need to lease my towels, sheets, and pillowcases. I am getting tired of the threadbare ones and the ones with unsightly holes in them, although they are still functional...

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 12:24 am

rgs92 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 12:30 pm
So true.

Since you are still young enough to be employable and currently have a job (which is the key to being employable), see if you can get some sort of gov't job, especially through networking if you know anybody. That's the holy grail of jobs these days.
The thought has crossed my mind but a government job would require moving to the state capitol which is a couple hours away. I don't really like the idea of having to be there for so many years to get vested in a pension plan, and possibly have it taken away somewhere down the road (i.e. not enough money in the budget or whatever).
rgs92 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 12:30 pm
If by any chance you have any interest in trades (plumbing/HVAC/etc.), there is always a need for that and it's growing and you can work anywhere.
That is another though that has crossed my mind. I would definitely consider that if I were younger. I wouldn't completely rule it out at this point, but that ship has likely sailed.
rgs92 wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 12:30 pm
As for I.T., I do know people who do systems admin or (or DB admin, especially Oracle, which is the one old technology that seems to still survive and thrive since it's so embedded) and seem to always find work (often contracting gigs, but that's the way of the world now).

I would definitely move away from straight coding jobs, as noted in the comments I quoted above.

The system admin thing (and other support jobs) are significantly less prone to outsourcing or offshoring I have seen anecdotally.
In regards to IT, I would say that I enjoy working with databases the most. I do some of that in my current position (designing databases, writing queries, pulling data, stored procedure, etc). Perhaps I should focus more on that.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 12:31 am

MtnTraveler wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 3:13 pm
What I've seen is that at 40 (or at least in my neck of the woods) companies expect a person to have specialized knowledge. Either it's software used in their industry, policies that govern their industry, or platforms (cloud-based) used. The first two you'll only have x years of experience if you are already in that industry so only the 3rd one (platforms) is really an open avenue. As a hiring manager I have problems because I can only look for people who know and meet the policies of this industry and people outside of the industry don't even bother to apply even though I can do conditional employment. As someone who'd like to get experience outside of this industry I can't because this is all I know so I don't meet middle level engineer/low-level manager requirements for other industries. It's a real catch-22.
I know what you mean. It seems that the first job or first few jobs one takes after university really sets the stage for the rest of one's career. It's easy to get pigeonholed. Knowing what I know now, I would have likely made different decisions. Things could have turned out better...or worse.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 12:35 am

anoop wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 4:01 pm
I am actually saddened by all the organizations encouraging STEM majors and organizations like "girls who code". They are trying to sell something to kids that is essentially a dead end. FIRE (finance, insurance, real-estate) is the way to go. Financial engineering and knowing how to hedge for various policy and economic outcomes is the future.
Good point. There are just further driving salaries downward by trying to cram more people into the field.

As far as Finance vs. IT goes. Here's a real world example. When I started at the company I work at, there was a guy who worked in Finance at a similar level as I was in my IT job. Fast forward over 10 years and I am in the same position He became manager, director, and later a VP in Finance. He also makes almost 3x my salary. The size of his department has not changed very much over the years. The size of the IT department has decreased significantly.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 12:40 am

anoop wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 4:36 pm
It's a dead end for a career in the US. May be a good idea if you're in Asia. We need shoes, but they come from Asia. Nobody is saying we won't need shoes in the future. Likewise, we will need technology, but it will come from Asia. It is already impossible to do high tech manufacturing in the US because the skills don't exist here anymore. If you want to build a custom chip today, where do you go? If you want to get an iPhone app built, where do you go? (Or where does the person you go to go to get it done...)

When I say insurance and real-estate I'm talking about the financial engineering that goes behind them. Knowing how to assess and price deals in a given economic and monetary environment. I know a lot of mid 40's engineers out of a job, and even more that are now working for Asian companies after being laid off (during an all time high in the stock market) by US companies.
That's a shame. Are those mid 40s engineers going to be able to pivot to Finance? Something tells me probably not.

anoop
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by anoop » Tue May 22, 2018 1:21 am

CobraKai wrote: โ†‘
Tue May 22, 2018 12:40 am
anoop wrote: โ†‘
Mon May 21, 2018 4:36 pm
It's a dead end for a career in the US. May be a good idea if you're in Asia. We need shoes, but they come from Asia. Nobody is saying we won't need shoes in the future. Likewise, we will need technology, but it will come from Asia. It is already impossible to do high tech manufacturing in the US because the skills don't exist here anymore. If you want to build a custom chip today, where do you go? If you want to get an iPhone app built, where do you go? (Or where does the person you go to go to get it done...)

When I say insurance and real-estate I'm talking about the financial engineering that goes behind them. Knowing how to assess and price deals in a given economic and monetary environment. I know a lot of mid 40's engineers out of a job, and even more that are now working for Asian companies after being laid off (during an all time high in the stock market) by US companies.
That's a shame. Are those mid 40s engineers going to be able to pivot to Finance? Something tells me probably not.
I don't know anyone that has unfortunately. Most that made the transition did so in their early-mid 30's. These mid 40's-50's folks are now doing random consulting gigs, often for companies in Asia. They are deeply unhappy but they don't see a way out.

I think it is possible to do it, but it requires tremendous focus because it involves facing one's ego -- that we picked the wrong career and we aren't as good as we thought we were.

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jharkin
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Tue May 22, 2018 6:02 am

The thing with tech, is that the advice is all over the map.

In this thread we have the folks saying that its a dead end post 40 and be ready for the poor house. In the parallel "lucrative careers" thread you have guys trying to convince me that I'm doing something wrong because I cant command a 250k salary with a phone call.

Somewhere in the middle you have Klangfool.

Then you have the folks insisting its all going to outsource... countered by the folks who say IT help desk will be immune ( My experience is similar to one guy above - all of help desk but local hardware support got sent overseas long ago). One thing not mentioned, that I think about, is the day when AI gets good enough that the code writes itself and development becomes more of a skilled union trade than a profession.

Then you have the folks saying get PMP, against the folks saying get CSM, against the folks saying both are bunk. My experience is that BOTH are useful, in certian specific circumstances. The CSM is easy and it teaches you the basics - but like people above said in big enterprises nobody does it by the book. Its almost impossible to do by the book. Most enterprise companies do some flavor of water-srum-fall... where you have scrum at the team level working stories but your planning pipeline and endgame are still heavily waterfall. And inviting recruiting and marketing to a daily standup? never heard of that....

Similarly PMP is far from dead. Its just not useful at the single scrum team level... But for the scope of large enterprise releases and customer engagements, you better believe GANTT charts and RACI models are still alive and well :) If your interest is project or program management, PMP is useful but not required.

And program management is not a bad gig if you like looking at the big picture and have the knack for negotiating. I moved in that direction to keep my tech career moving in my 40s after my hard skills atrophied. Oh and I did it without a PMP.... in fact I manage PMP's ;)

mrgeeze
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by mrgeeze » Tue May 22, 2018 8:47 am

One more thought.

Assuming your lifestyle will allow it,perrhaps you can get a security clearance beyond TS.
This means regular poly's and your dope smoking days are over.

A real clearance and a good brain tuned to IT will most likely keep you employed the rest of your life.
Its really unlikely DOD/NSA etc are going to sub out their development to India.
Truth is, the intelligence community needs home grown talent. A lot of it is aging into retirement.
You might even join the government organization itself
I think that path to $$$ is a much longer play (10-20 years) with potentially a larger payout at the end.

I know more than a few guys who hopped green badge contracts for years as independents.
Good money once you make the jump from employee to indy subcontractor.
Even better if can rate the hallowed SME position.

Perhaps start by getting a job with one of the big firms (Raytheon, Northrup, L3, etc) and put in your time.
3-5 years should build your know-how, both IT and the way things work behind the badge.
Keep an ear out for contracts, especially ones lost by your employer. That is opportunity.
Often the new winner needs people- opportunity to strike out on your own.

This may not be for you. The lifestyle can be restrictive and burdensome.
I understand.
I once had an entire department that couldn't pass a urine test for THC.
Ate a lot of pizza.
Best group I ever worked with.

Again, good luck

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