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Cover image for Can you become a web developer if you are 40?

Can you become a web developer if you are 40?

accolades_dev profile image Luc_C Originally published at dribbble.com ・4 min read

After receiving this question plenty of times, I decided to write an article about it.
I would like you to know that this is just my story and hopefully you’ll find it of help or at least you can grasp the good things out of it.

Background

I was born in a ex-communist country, one of the poorest in Europe. Living in a communist country you’d imagine the mentality and lack of resources to outside informations.

My parents couldn’t offer me a good education as they were just simple workers, so around 11 years when the communist party fell down, I saw an opportunity to make small winnings. I went to a Fruits Store so that I will offer my services and work for them, the packages were so big that I couldn’t even move them an inch. I was so skinny due to lack of food that I used to get a stone around 5 kilos and place it in the elevator so that I would used it when I wanted to get inside my flat as I lived to the 8th floor. I was a shy guy and later became an introvert but like most of boys I didn’t want it to show it, so I was faking the brave.
Nobody wanted to give me any job, as they were probably afraid so that I wouldn’t die. All the jobs were heavy jobs, in constructions or brewery where physical efforts was needed and I couldn’t do it.

From poverty to robbery is just one step!

Close to my 14’s I met a bigger guy, he was around 17 and he proposed me to "work" with him. He was a pick pocket. I started to “work” with him and we eventually became friends. I barely used to go home as my parents draw an addiction to alcohol. I was living on the streets with this fella and used to go to his house from time to time. Starting with this episode, my life had a bad turn until it reached the peak when I was 19. In Romania at the beginning of 19 they used to incorporate young men into military, that was required by the Law. It used to be for 12 months. So the year I was doing military clerks, my mind was clear and I started to ask myself where I wanted to go. I had no education, no basics into any profession whatsoever, so I didn’t know where to start.

Hope arises!

After finishing the military I saw an opportunity into my cousin’s furniture company. I started to work with him but after a year he went back to US as he wasn’t able to be in two places at once, so the furniture company was closed. By the end of 2000 I started a military career and to continue my education. It ended on the end of 2005 when I've met my wife in Spain.

My life begins in Spain

Since then I worked for a year into construction, and then I took an opportunity on an olive oil manufacture, packaging and bottling. I also went to study for three months a milling course of the olives... Been a small factory I used to be the “guy that is good at all things” and I was also repairing the machines and do the logistics when needed. Between 2007 and 2019 I worked for this company and be able to provide for my four kids and my wife.

Beginning To Shape the dream

In 2019 I decided to start working on my dream.
I still live the feeling when I touched for the first time a PC keyboard. It was in 1999 when I went to a one month introductory MS-DOS course. That feeling and memory had never left me. So, I decided to go into tech industry.
As I am writing this article I am filled with emotions. There are a mixture of emotions, I can see fear, excitement, and so many of them, positive and negative. But I know something for sure, I will never quit to accomplish my dream, that is to become a software engineer!

The Sky is not the limit!

It has been a long journey, with up and downs. I faced my worst enemy: fear!
I learnt to not listen the voices that come against what I’ve built in my life. I value people, I celebrate life, but I don’t drink my coffee with toxic people as I have a dream to pursue and I need to focus on it.
I choose to listen The Voice that encourages me!
I aim high for a guy that used to be insecure, self doubted and introvert.
But one thing I know: if I shoot at nothing I will hit every time, but if I shoot at the Moon it’s impossible not to hit at least one star!

This is part of my story!
Be encouraged and be brave!

you can find me on Twitter here

Discussion

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madza profile image
Madza

I fully believe the recruiters doesn't care about the age. What they ultimately care is your efficiency to tackle problems thrown at you, how fast you can pick up the new tech if the need arises and your ability to work within a team.

In freelancing you can even avoid all of 3, if you can find clients with no deadline priorities.

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jacobbogers profile image
Jacob Bogers

"I fully believe the recruiters doesn't care about the age"
LOL, You havent met many of them, but it also depends on culture/country, if you are in a country that only focuses on money yes ofc, you are right, in rich social democracies like Western Europe, things are a bit different. HR are social justice warriors.
But in countries Switzerland, USA, they only give a shit about how good you are.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

In the last 10 years I've never seen a resume with an age on it. We remove them if they are listed to ensure that no one would reject at that stage. Of course, it doesn't stop unconscious bias at the interview stage - for that our HR interview the interviewer to assess how clear they are about one candidates advantages over another to try to reduce it.

Anyone interviewing for our company knows to not ask questions like "Do you have kids?" or any related home circumstance questions so that we don't accidentally use that information to differentiate one recruit from another.

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jacobbogers profile image
Jacob Bogers

Makes no sense at all, and its a bit virtue signalling. you can always deduce someones age by looking at graduation dates and oldest entries in their resume quite easily.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

Given the age strata of our workforce it seems to work for us. Perhaps the "virtue signalling" of doing it sends a message to the interviewers.

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jacobbogers profile image
Jacob Bogers

Hints dont work in my experience , incentives do..btw..Initial conditions are just as important as operating procedure, (was the company diverse to begin with?) also incentives to HR are important (bonus system for finding successfull candidate) the latter works marvels for our company.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

It's a fair point, I guess it's happened in two businesses that I've built from the ground up and then one that I've joined that was already established. It is reasonably normal to remove ages/ethnicity and even names from applications to avoid bias in our market, not something we thought of, but a common practice.

I reflected on your point about working out ages, it's certainly something I've reasoned on my fingers before. Usually before an interview though, rather than at the candidate resume review phase.

Our HR team run a series of training programmes on unconscious bias and interview technique, you might be right that it's pointless, I don't have good other references to compare it to or a "before state" either, but it doesn't seem to be hurting.

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giangvincent profile image
giang vincent

Well Clearly HR is the first step to pass first. If HR see u too old for the job then that is a big no.

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jacobbogers profile image
Jacob Bogers

Giangvincent, like i said, age is not that of an issue if it is a highly competative environment, try to get this point. Mitigated capitalist systems (rich Western Europe social democracies) the can indulge in weird selection criteria. The are not as much under Darwinistic pressures, ( NB: i dint say zero)

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frontenddude profile image
Frontend Dude 👨‍💻

Amazing story. Not every one has it easy in life and you managed to turn it round for the better. Well done!

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

That's been a journey! Thanks for sharing it. Passion is one of the key drivers of success. That and not being afraid of looking like an idiot - looking like an idiot is fine, then one day you wake up and find you are ready to look like a hero :)

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redcaptom profile image
Red Cap Tom

No, you are too old to become a developer.
You are also too old to learn how to play music.
Or learn how to write books.
Or learn how to swim.

But, ya know, I can tell you a little bit about swimming. Heck, I might even take you to the lake and show you how to do it. It's not really that complicated, after all. I think that after a few rounds you'll be able to do it yourself.

And afterwards, maybe you can write a short paragraph about that experience, since you probably already know how to write words in English, right? Yeah, that would probably be nice.

And if you write another paragraph after that, that shouldn't really be that much more work, I think. Make it a page, just to be sure.

Tomorrow, just for giggles, maybe write about writing that page today. And the day after that, maybe write about the amazing feeling of writing two whole pages!

Wait, what? After a week or so, you now have 10 pages of writing already? Damn, dude! That's dope. Can you write 10 more?

Well, why not make it interesting? Write 20 more, but talk about what it's like to write these initial 10 pages after never writing so much before. Then send it over to me, and I'll share with you my opinion.

And after that, maybe write up what it's like to pick up a guitar from the second-hand store and just strumming for a bit. Write about the horrible sounds you produce. Write about how it feels like to be a horrible musician.

And you know how to read, right? If you can write, you can probably read. Go back to that store, and buy a guitar book. Do just the first page today. Maybe even tomorrow.

But don't forget to write all about it! You've probably got like 100 pages or something now, right? That's not that far from a book. Can you make it 200?

Anyways, back to the music. You've been reading the book? I guess so, you seem like a really persistent guy, what with all the swimming and writing you've been doing. You probably even can play a verse of some song now. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley is really nice, can you play it using the chords you know?

Probably, right? I guess so. But, wait, you kinda need a website to show off all of those new music and swimming skills, and maybe sell that book you just wrote. Feels like it. Guess what's next?

And the process repeats ad inifitum. Good for you, @Luc_C. Keep on kicking.

And to leave you guys off with a quote by one of the greats, Carmack (developer of Doom & Quake & Oculus & All things game graphics basically):

"In the information age, the barriers to entry into programming just aren't there. The barriers are self-imposed. If you want to set off and go develop some grand new thing, you don't need millions of dollars of capitalization. You need enough pizza and Diet Coke to stick in your refrigerator, a cheap PC to work on, and the dedication to go through with it. We slept on floors. We waded across rivers."

It's really that simple.

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kamfucharlie profile image
kamfu-charlie

Thanks for the sharing, it is encouraging life stories. I was graceful if not because there is education sponsor from my aunt, i would still work in some rural construction industrial.

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chrisdixon161 profile image
Chris Dixon

Thanks for telling your story Luc, lot's of struggles, and how you have turned them around. Will definitely inspire others. Good things are on their way I am sure!

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antrenament profile image
Radu

wow man this is inspiring!

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rquattrogtl profile image
Stefano Ferrari

Thanks to share this, my friend. This is inspiring. You deserve this new life.

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mmaitoza profile image
Michael Maitoza

Great bio and great story how you came to start coding. Good for you!

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Leandro Augusto

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing! 👏🇧🇷