Me, I bought a farm in Sweden. Harvest is in, manure has been spread, looking to grow my first 'beer crop' (barley and hops) within a few years. The forest needs some attention but that is what winter is for.
What comes around, goes around. Programmers (and developers and architects and others of similar ilk) turn to the land while farmers are surrounding themselves with technology. GPS-controlled tractors, milk robots, ID-based cow feeders, etc. Horticulture is being robotised. Forestry will go that route soon enough, with clear-cut harvest being replaced by individual tree harvesting.
But he definitely seemed pretty happy. :)
I remember sitting at my desk writing code at a client's one day. It was pissing down with rain - and I could see someone mowing the lawns outside. And at that moment (I wasn't particularly enjoying the work) I wished we could swap places. He looked happy.
Good luck with your farming!
I'm right now looking for some nice sunny land to buy and massively ramp things up.
I get this impulse but I'm still plugged in enough to want to automate things. I'm looking at farmbot on kickstarter and thinking how I could build my own, program or automate various systems and sensors. I'm extremely excited about having one foot in both worlds.
Are you doing organic farming? Just asking out of interest.
I started working in the mid 90s. Joined a company which had few 100 employees, when I left it had around 300 times more.
So if we look at 40 it really is a dividing line where of the few people that where doing development a small fragment of that group actually started developing in what would be somewhat relevant technologies today. Of that group, possibly only in the thousands, attrition has taken it's toll (the .com bust took a lot of them, which gets missed a lot in these discussions).
Now we have all had that bad interview, with a bad company that puts some kid fresh out of school in a lead role and he grills all new applicants on theory that is in no way relevant to what we actually do and anyone in the industry for a meaningful amount of time, has long purged that info from immediate recollection. But I don't see that as an age discrimination problem, I see it as a bad management problem, and a willful lack of understanding about technology and technologist on the part of business people (for those reading, first technical hire can make or break your company). Fortunately it has been my experience that most of those companies don't stick around for too long.
Anyone thrust into the job market for the first time in several years (say 10+) might find it somewhat unrecognizable. Job search has changed significantly in the ~20 years I've been in recruiting.
I've developed a bit of a niche business in helping older programmers (I'm 44) "rehabilitate" themselves and prepare to enter a job search (writing/reviewing resumes, consult on job search strategy, etc.). It's mostly people who don't want to go into management and still want to stay in the code.
I can only think of a few people that left the industry entirely, out of thousands (I also ran a Java Users Group for 15 years, which has a large contingent of older programmers).
One of my friends that I started my first job with is now at the CTO level, while I keep turning down opportunities to "advance" into management. Another friend of mine quit after the Senior Director level because he started hating his life, and went back to programming/embedded engineering for the fun of it.
Age does make you wonder if you were turned down for an offer because of subconscious ageism, but I am not aware of rampant problems with it.
You do have to be careful to give everybody's proposals a chance, instead of just pattern-matching to something awful in your past.
Keeping an open mind is a discipline.
Having kids helps you rediscover what you once loved, helps you recover from jaded oldsterism.
Conversely, it's interesting that my adult child is now having to deal with a bout of "imposter syndrome" :-)
Seriously, I love what I do and will continue programming as long as possible. I'm addicted to learning and the satisfaction of good, clean, simple code that gets the job done.
So programmers don't work on socially relevant or desirable problems, but on some relatively obscure scalability issue that exists only inside a few internet behemoths. They need soldiers, not wisdom.
With these employers dominating the marketplace, socially relevant innovations take a back seat. Society doesn't help either, as open source sadly isn't tax funded (because tax-fundedness is a pivotal privilige of the disfunctional political class).
So being a programmer often is (cor)related to the strength of youth, and youth ends at 40.
However, no craftsman worth his salt loses his abilities, instead he has experience about what works and what doesn't, and becomes more effective at what he does. He doesn't run trying to catch his own tail.
For example this guy here, at https://millcomputing.com/docs/execution/. What he and his team have done is a work of beauty and is the fruit of experience and intuition.
The young and the old work together.
And the salary offered begins to go down at 40 too. Sharply after 44 or so.
Where I am now, at 51, I have had to learn to get by on what I was making as a SysAdmin 20 mumble years ago. But at least I have a job. Before getting my current job I was having to learn to get by without a place to live too.
There are several reasons you could see a salary drop (stagnating skill set no longer in demand, move to company that pays less, move to industry that values programmers less, etc.), but age alone isn't likely to be one of them.
I was severely burned in an automobile accident (60%, 3rd degree) on June 6, 2006 -- and was completely unable to work for a couple years. It took a little over 4 years total from the date of the accident till I got another job.
Every job since then has been with a startup.
So at this point, while a 4-year gap will still be a downward multiplier to some, the effect will be relatively mild.
Better to focus on the the sheer inner strength it must take (which I, and almost all these people summarily rejecting you, can only begin to imagine) to pull off a recovery like that, and how that makes a much more solid person overall -- and hence, a way better hire.
Note that it's all based on perceived value, which is only partly based on actual value, which is only partly based on skill. I'm not trying to brag or put anyone down here. A lot of it has to do with what I said in another comment about specialization. Nobody wants to pay a thirty-year veteran's salary for a job where they don't already have deep expertise. People who can find jobs closely aligned with their skills and specialties often continue to do OK. People who can't - and it's usually more to do with shifts in the market than in them - get left out.
The sad fact is that many older programmers' skills and instincts often do apply outside their area of obvious expertise. Recognizing code smells or knowing how to test code properly are valuable skills in any specialty. So is communication, or scheduling, or being able to recognize and mentor up-and-coming young developers. Most older programmers - not just the few lucky ones - are well able to justify their salaries but never get the chance. That's a "soft" kind of ageism, but it's ageism nonetheless.
But again -- only to a certain degree. And more so: there a different ways of looking at it, and more importantly, certain things you can do about it -- such that if you groom your skills carefully, and pick the roles you apply for carefully, also -- you can turn your age into an upward multiplier, rather than a downward one.
That's my quick take. The main thing is, please don't give up hope -- there's still a lot one can get out of the very substantial skill investments one has made by that age, provided we don't fall into certain traps (perhaps the most insidious being: believing all the crap that SV and a good chunk of the industry believes about the magical advantages that very young hires have over older ones).
Am swamped for time at the moment, but perchance, may get back to this topic in a couple of hours.
Even if everyone who was employed in a software dev role in 1975 or even 1985 were still employed in a software dev role today, they would be so outnumbered by younger people as to be a statistical blip. (Whoa, age discrimination!)
Also, older people will tend not to suddenly switch to software development. The major entry path is through young people becoming developers. Most people over 50 in development are people who were 20-something in development, possibly younger. So how many 50-somethings there are in dev has mostly to do with how many 20-somethings were in dev thirty years ago. It could be different if large numbers of non-dev 50-somethings suddenly retrained as devs, but they don't.
Ageist hiring practices are a reality, but not all companies are so biased. And you could not pay me enough to go into management. I want to make things. Perhaps that is why I am still viable.
Most devs move there over time, and then complain how cool coding actually was, but they are already in money/debt trap
What I do wish I could do is find a job where I travel around a lot and debug problems for customers on-site. I like traveling and don't mind spending time in hotels (as long as they're nice ones), and like being able to do different things instead of the same thing day after day, month after month. I also like problem-solving and debugging (esp. when I'm not the one to blame for the bug!), and have been very good at this kind of work in past jobs.
A domain expert might try a naive or brute force approach to a very specific problem, while a programmer would see a graphing problem and instantly think of several different techniques to apply and be able to tell what outcome they'd produce.
The main reason older programmers are so under-represented is that the field has grown exponentially over the past 2 decades. With ever larger influxes of college grads the previous smaller cohorts get more and more diluted across the industry.
> "Many programmers find that their employability starts to decline at about age 35," Matloff writes. ... "Statistics show that most software developers are out of the field by age 40," Matloff continues ... (Matloff declines to mention which statistics he's reading.)
So basically he's spouting BS to match his talking point.
IMO, older programmers who have done good work in the past are at a major advantage: we have a network of former co-workers who can speak to our abilities better than any whiteboard interview can and who can alert their managers/recruiters that we are someone worth going after.
I realize my experience is anecdotal, however having made two job changes in my 40s, my experience could not be more different from what Matloff implies:
- When chatting with former co-workers, if I even remotely hint at considering a switch, I have their recruiters kicking down my door the next day.
- I have employers skip phone screens to get me into a loop faster in the hopes of getting a jump on other potential employers.
- I've had some offers without interviewing both times I was looking for my next gig. Other offers' interviews felt like formalities because they had to have a loop in the big company HR system.
- I have a constant stream of "would you consider this great opportunity?" on LinkedIn despite the fact that one can easily reverse-engineer my approximate age from my profile.
- etc., etc.
It doesn't feel like "employability starts to decline at about age 35" from where I'm sitting. And lest I be labelled some special outlier, I have a good number of friends & former co-workers in the mid-40s age bracket who are having similar experiences.
The fact that a handful of SV startup bros only want to hire their long-lost twins doesn't make the bulk of the industry old-programmer-averse.
I'm sure they could, if they bothered to actually read it (which basically no one ever does). In general, "feeler emails" are a poor measure of serious interest in one's overall profile.
Basically they're just trying to ping you to see if (1) you're in the market and (2) remotely interested. Then they'll actually look at your profile -- and make the kind of assessment you would have thought they made before reaching out to you.
I don't earn the very high salary that I used to earn, but that is OK because I am doing what I want to do.
Worked in the SE of England as a programmer for 20 years, moved to being a tester ( had 20 years experience of how things could go wrong) then moved away from the rat race commute of London to low-cost of living Michigan and couldn't be happier.
Currently learning how to program mobile apps so that I can test them better
We do grant work for the state, and to some extent, the federal government. We are not doing "super scalable" stuff, but we still have thousands of users, many daily, and some of the entry forms for things are huge, with much complicated logic to be legally compliant.
How do you keep from getting burned out on the mismanagement that plagues our industry?
Is it personal perseverance?
Are you just super selective with what jobs you take?
Is the love of building something stronger than any feelings of frustration with poor management?
Being selective helps, so if you can afford to say 'no' to projects you don't like, you should. Another more important thing about being selective is IMHO, what you choose to believe and what path you choose for yourself. We will find all kinds of examples in others(people we know or people we read about). But perhaps taking inspiration from the likes of say Nikola Tesla, who were working in their 80s until they died. A lot of other people also work in management roles late into their life. But I think, programming is more like being a Scientist, in the way that the kind of brain muscles which get exercised.
Can't speak about perseverance, as its easier to keep doing something you like. But yes, it does help to keep abreast of latest technology. I started doing C++ coding, then did Java about a decade. Now mostly program in Go, but fairly competent in C++/Java as well. And I also try to be a full stack engineer - coded Android app, and also UI in JS/Dart(This aspect of being a full stack engineer, of course may not be necessary for every one).
Taking breaks to learn some new tech, also helps, I am taking an 'Intro to AI' course on a MOOC. And also spent time learning about Bitcoin and how it works.
Sometimes, if my work does not offer me strong enough programming challenge, I do programming challenges on sites like Hacker Rank (and earlier Topcoder) just for fun.
On burnout: Yes, that can happen. I think, it happens when you are working in an unhappy position for too long. Sometimes, it may happen when you keep doing a project for too long, even though it was your own baby. No easy answers.
So, I think, its mainly love of programming for me. I hope to keep doing it, till late in life.
PS: I see the question was posed few days ago. But its still not answered. So answering, just in case you check for replies.
* Outside of tech companies, in other orgs with their own specific tech needs (e.g. financial or scientific).
* More infrastructure, less user-facing.
* More "old school" like embedded/OS work.
I'm 51, and I specialize in storage. Consistent with this pattern, I've had many colleagues and collaborators in their 40s and 50s (after that it really does get pretty thin). We might be less visible than people doing the mobile/VR/ML kinds of stuff that are en vogue in the Silicon Valley VC/YC ecosystem, but many of us are still in high demand. There are even headhunters who specialize in facilitating such hires. They don't focus explicitly on age, but their focus on specific domains often results in a greyer-than-average contact list. You just have to know where to look.
The most important thing is not to wait to get treatment. Also, what works for you depends on how you have injured yourself so try out all the different things available and come up with your own setup. And if you're employed, getting on worker's comp has been a life saver (and probably saved me a few thousand dollars also, not to mention regular insurance maxes out after a small number of therapy visits). Some areas (bay area for example) have support groups. I haven't been but I hear they can help point you to good doctors / therapists. There's also a bunch of literature, books and websites out there with more detailed info than I can provide here (search for "repetitive stress injuries").
More details here: https://henrikwarne.com/2012/02/18/how-i-beat-rsi/
1. use proper posture. Don't rest your wrists on the table as you type. Make sure your chair is an appropriate height (or your desk itself, if you're standing).
2. imo Dvorak is much more comfortable (it's not about typing speed).
3. Take up rock climbing. Seriously. It's the best exercise for your hands/wrists that I know of. Any time I've started to have hand/wrist pain I've made a point of going to a rock gym a few times and it helps fix the problem. I wish I kept up with it more.
As mentioned in my sibling comment, this was _THE_ most important thing in getting rid of wrist pain. Not even a pad helped, it still compressed on my wrists.
I suspect lifting weights already improves this generally, as I have periods of much less pain which coincide with being more active.
If you have a body pain problem, "see if lifting doesn't help" is good advice, but you have to be careful, i.e., don't be a dumb gymbro and load on more weight than you know you can hamdle with good form.
Do some heavy lifting now and again, so that the hands are used for real stuff.
Joke aside, I was mainly thinking about wrist problems. I think any normal sized, model-m layout or possibly split-layout keyboard with non-linear quality switches is ok.
If the finger joints hurts, I suppose a lower activation force might be good - I guess one might be Cherry MX Brown, but I don't personally like anything else than buckling spring...
The main message is that in my experience, laptops in your lap is the worst, and exercise helps.
I want to see the data of where they go and determine from that.
Data point - in my 40s (doing DevOps atm). Truth is in my company (one of the big ones) I do not see a lot of older folks doing technical work (I might be the oldest in a team of about 40 people). So I'm wondering - where is everyone (and why am I not there too)?
A lot of them also ended up in management. Some because it was the only path available for advancement. Many orgs just don't have (or make) space for distinguished engineers and the career path for SE ends at the senior level to which most can attend in less then 5-10 years. After that there is nowhere to go for them but management. Another issue is the demand for distinguished engineers is lower since you need less of them then junior and senior devs so it's a limited pool of jobs.
My dad retired as a professional programmer a few years ago. He started in the 1970s, and had been doing a lot of Java before his retirement. He's occasionally doing some work on an open source project now.
I think most of these articles are focused on startup culture and marque companies. (ie. 1% of the market)
I've tried to search for this, but I think my google-fu's not up to snuff.
They go to the elephant graveyards of IT, banks.
Too much to do to worry about this nonsense. This constant rumination about age discrimination in the industry is the only thing getting old from my perspective.
>> lots of developers in their forties and some in their fifties at our company. We would be happy to hire more.
Actually that's a demotion as far as I can tell.