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Mid-Life Coding Newbie

ravhawk profile image Will ・2 min read

My name is Will and I do NOT consider myself a coder, but a future hopeful. However, even at the age of 45 with 3 kids, a full time career (not anywhere near coding) and a pretty busy life, I've decided that something I've been toying around with for literal decades is something that MAYBE, just maybe, I might be able to consider as a future.

Even now as I start to write my first blog, I realize how much of a newbie I must be to anyone who might consider reading this. This will probably not be the typical tech blog, full of the usual items from those well versed in programming. However, I'm doing this for my own personal journey into coding and anyone who might be crazy enough to travel along with me on this journey and possibly be inspired to do the same.

A bit of background, I started with computers in the 80s and you probably know what that means, archaic and interesting to say the least. I started messing around at the age of 8 or so either playing with my Atari 2600, using tape drives on Radio Shack computers and learning with basic coding on IBM computers to create simple programs to make moving shapes and such dance on the screen. However, that was short lived and I quickly moved away from programming, while still continuing to be active in computers all throughout my life.

I had many stops and starts over the next few decades toying with the idea, however, it wasn't as easy to do online learning as it is now, especially if you weren't a CS major in college and paying the bills immediately took a front seat. I did not go into CS, but another, unrelated major. Over the last several years, I took a more serious approach to this and have been looking to really get into it, but felt completely lost and "too old" to NOW learn to code and translate that into a career.

Starting in 2017, I found FreeCodeCamp.org and it seemed like a great place to start to dive into this and see if it was something I really wanted to do. I went through the beginning content for a while and again stopped and started over the last few years, mostly trying to overcome the thoughts I was too old and trying to convince myself that this was something I could really do, even in some sort of freelance/side gig method, instead of trying to transition to a full time career.

Over the next few posts, I'll explain a bit more of these past experiences I've had and to go into more detail of what I've done specifically over the last few years and what my plan is going forward. As I go through my personal experiences trying to learn coding through a self paced, self learning process, I'll take you along with me.

Discussion (28)

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Age is nothing but a number!

I hope I speak on behalf of the community by saying “welcome, can’t wait to see you progress and to see more posts from you!”

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chadgotis profile image
Chadric Gotis

Very well said. Age is just but a number.
Dev community is rooting for you my man @ravhawk

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Exactly. This year I'll turn 30 ... in hexadecimal.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

That took me way longer than I care to admit to actually process your age 🤣. Looks like I need to go work on my hexadecimal, it could be useful 😋....

Clip from The Martian - hexadecimal

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

Thank you, I know it's a long process and not easy to do, but this group seems like a good one to be apart of.

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

Thank you for the encouragement. I will say that I was a little hesitant to start a blog and put myself out there at such a new point in this process. However, with all I've read about how good it is to start blogging at the beginning of the process and the good group of people who are on this site, it made sense to do so.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

You have a perspective that many people on the site could benefit from so do keep writing!

What is harder as someone in their 40s getting into development? What life skills make learning development easier? How do you Handle work life balance with three kids, a job and learning to code! Do you see opportunities (or threats) in current processes that only a more rounded background can bring?

Above all else, you sharing your thoughts, progress etc. is invaluable to other people who might not be sure if development is the industry for them "due to their age" (as there is a stigma that needs to disappear!).

As for writing - I have only been at it 3 months, all I can say is I am enjoying it and although a lot of my writing has be "for the memes" and silly, it is practice for some more important pieces. It has helped me order my thoughts and work on my communication skills, something I thought I was good at already but highlighting how far I still have to go!

So write, don't worry what people think, write for you as it is a great learning aid for both yourself and others!

p.s. for clarity - there was no way to write this comment without it being an "you're old" looking post - I am not much younger than you so believe me it is more from the "it is a young persons game" perspective I am meaning! 😋🤣

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author • Edited

Lol, I definitely don't take offense to "you're old" comments when I'm the oldest in my house by 6 years at the closest and 35 years at the largest!

The hardest aspect is the work-life-self improvement balance? I usually end up getting maybe 5 1/2 hrs sleep trying to fit a 30 hr day into 24. Fortunately for me, my stubbornness and past experiences have helped me along the way.

The other largest challenge I see is more 2 fold, broken into 3 parts. On one side I see my personal passion and dedication to learn and succeed. The 2nd side is my self doubt as to if I'd ever be good enough to succeed, especially later in life with "less time" and more of that "imposter syndrome" always creeping in.

The 3rd part is just the sheer volume of information you get from such a wide variety of sources these days. There are so many people in any topic that say something opposite from the previous person. One podcast or review or blog can say "You got this!", while the next one says "Look Out!".

At the end of the day, you need to decide if this is truly something for you and if it is, then go for it with full passion and don't worry about what might be.

As for those in the industry now, especially compared to being an older learner? The great thing about society today is that the younger generations are far more tolerant, accepting, and not willing to allow bias and insensitivity like others before them. That has helped places like dev.to and this industry in general grow faster and be more accepting as a result.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

What I meant was that you have several topics you can write articles on with those questions I posed, expanding on the ideas in this comment into full articles would be invaluable to others.

This is particularly important as it might help you and others with the 2nd point (self doubt) - trust me just search “imposter syndrome” on here...you are not alone in that, but you are probably better equipped to deal with it as you will surely have experienced it before!

As for sheer volume of information - yeah there isn’t much I can say other than absorb loads and then “pick a path”, see if your passion lands on front end, back end, AI etc. That way at least you can focus in on an overwhelm of information in one space! 😂

I look forward to seeing you progress, write and seeing you interact with us all here! Good luck in it all and if you get stuck just throw a question out using the #help tag, loads of people watch that tag so use it heavily!

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

Thank you for the thoughts and encouragement. I did think about the topic ideas of all the conversation points I've had afterwards. I will definitely be hitting people up for questions along the way!

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keskyle17 profile image
Chris Briggs

I'm 51, I designed data networks for many of those, and now I teach English as a second language; not your typical career path haha. Last year I got into programming, for the pleasure and interest of it. That comes above all. I've started learning Rust, simply because I find it intriguing, for the same reason I also learned Neo4j. I have also got into discrete maths because it's interesting, and links my world of data networks with programming and language.

I built my own simple website, codioma.com from scratch, and using that as a project to build upon and improve. In my opinion, there is too much attention on programming as a career choice, and 'failure' if you don't find a job with these skills.

Richard Feynman said it best: the pleasure of finding things out. Claude Shannon embodied it with his inventions. It's no coincidence they are two of the 20th Century's greatest minds; knowledge comes from tinkering.

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sentinel1909 profile image
Jeff Mitchell

Looking forward to following your journey. I'm sympatico to your story so far, it's very similar to mine (I'm in my 50th year...still 49 another few months though!). I have no intention of changing my day job anytime soon, but am looking to build skills for post retirement, which I hope to be in the right position for about 10 years from now.

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

That is nearly EXACTLY what I'm thinking. While I'd love to be able to do this now full time, pre-retirement, I've not convinced myself or found enough evidence I could jump into a programming career that is enough to equal what I'm doing now to fully support my family.

However, in thinking about later in life. Once the kids are out of the house and I can possibly downsize, also what to do at or beyond retirement? I hope to be able to do side gigs and freelance work now to be able to set myself up later.

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coderslang profile image
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rusredmi profile image
Rusredmi

Thanks Will! Hope you write more ✌️☺️✌️

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

Thank you. I def hope/plan too as I go along.

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rusredmi profile image
Rusredmi

Nice Will! I'm excited ✌️☺️✌️

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xenochem profile image
xenochem

You got this!

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egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

Welcome! There's no wrong age to learn to code! What tech are you interested in learning?

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

In a perfect world, I would love to get into game development. Not so much mobile applications, but more on the side of computer or console. However, in order to do that, programs like C#, C++, etc. are needed. That is definitely not a beginner friendly path. Plus, I want to ideally work remotely overseas or with a European company. So that is an additional challenge/hurdle in itself.

I believe the easiest method is usually best to start. So I'm starting with Front End and the Back End development, to get an understanding of programming. Then I can branch off from there.

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egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

Don't limit yourself on what's for beginners! C# was one of my first languages (javascript came first) and once I understood OOP, it became my favorite language! I've found that the 'easy' stuff is what gets you excited to learn.

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

That's good to hear! I think I actually have a beginner book to C# but was nervous about going down that path so early, so I opted to wait. I'll need to go back and take a deeper look at that.

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circlemsolutions profile image
James Madison

I’m sitting here reading this wondering who was narrating my current situation in life. All that was missing was “…a 42 yo firefighter with 2 years until retirement trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up”. 🤣 Best of luck as we both go through this journey.

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

First, I like the name, I used to live very close to the university of the same name.

I find it very interesting and slightly funny as to the close correlation. Thank you for the words of encouragement and good luck to you as well.

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sramzoli profile image
Haddock

I’m rookie too and 40! Your welcome !

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

Thank you!

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tfantina profile image
Travis Fantina

I'd be interested in hearing more about what you have already learned, probably played with a bit of JavaScript if you were using freeCodeCamp, what you are looking to learn and what your goals are.

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ravhawk profile image
Will Author

I am still firmly on the front end path. I could probably move at a faster pace than I am, but am wanting to really soak it all in before getting ahead of myself. I think doing web development is a good path towards freelance work, but in a perfect world, I'd love to do computer game development.

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