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I have done a lot of research on this (reading other answers asked by others), and just want to follow up on some points.

I went to university in my early 20s and the took a different path. I have a disability so back then I felt shy, awkward, and I felt crippled. So, since I was getting disability benefits (and they said they would not stop regardless of the job) I thought I'd take my time to build myself into someone I am comfortable with.

In hindsight and back then, I knew and know, if I went straight to work I wouldn't have had the strength to do what it took to take care of myself. It truly was a full-time job.

That's to say I knew what I was doing and even now I can't imagine spending these ten years in any other way.

Now though I am scared/insecure as to whether it is too late to get into programming at this age. Not the ability to learn and keep up but to actually be given a job. These are the questions that I have based on the answers I have read:

  • People change careers and start from the bottom all the time ("I was a barman/stacking-shelves and started learning programming"). But aren't all those other jobs/careers valid? How about my case that had no other job before?

  • Go to university and get a degree (not too late at any time). But how about a 10-year-old CS degree (and skills I have kept up), is that still valid?

  • "entry-level jobs do not require experience". This is mentioned on every answer which I've found where the person is almost in a similar situation as me. Some even said "employers looking for programmers want a good programmer, hence whether you were a bartender or did nothing both, it can't possibly contribute to your programming skills"

Nothing is easy in life. Lord knows most of us have learned that the hard way. It might take me lots of rejections to get the foot at the door, but are these answers just being kind, is it really as "easy" as writing a skills-based CV and leaving graduation dates out?

  • @JoeStrazzere I haven't yet applied for jobs. Since graduation programming (from PHP to node and "new" ecosystem) has been a hobby. Not my primary hobby but without being cocky, or being conservative about it I'm sure I'm good enough for entry-level. Lacking commercial experience and never having worked on shared (opensource) codebase, that might be a learning curve. – Mark kurti Jul 4 at 18:51
  • How did you keep up the skills? – Matthew Gaiser Jul 4 at 18:52
  • @MatthewGaiser creating stuff, blogs, basic ecommerce, few projects to help my work from and the like. I would need to organize them and display them on github (at the moment I seem to have 164 private repos on gitlab, and so most likely there are 3-5 bulky projects there (though, this has been a hobby and training has been the primary focus) – Mark kurti Jul 4 at 19:02
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    Why do you need job? – Justozauras Jul 4 at 22:12
  • @Justas now that I'm out of the woods, a career would be nice. grow my expectation and so on – Mark kurti Jul 4 at 22:49
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I agree with the prior answer, but have an important addition.

An employer is going to have to believe two things to hire you. One is that you have the technical skills they need. The other is that you are able and willing to hold a job, including working a full week. After COVID, you may be expected to show up at an office at a fixed time. You will have to work with other people and take direction from them.

I disagree with the quote in your third bullet: "employers looking for programmers want a good programmer, hence whether you were a bartender or did nothing both, it can't possibly contribute to your programming skills". A bartender has to work their shifts reliably and deal smoothly with managers, fellow employees, and customers. Given two otherwise similar resumes, I would be much more interested in interviewing the bartender than someone who has no work experience.

One way to correct this is to look for volunteer work. Your objective would be to get a reference for your work ethic and reliability. You can do that in parallel with sending out job applications. It will do no harm if you can get a job without the reference, but you may find a programming portfolio plus a non-programming reference is better than just the programming portfolio.

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    Yes, these points are important. All jobs I ever applied (and then was hired for) valued overall workforce experience over experience in the specific field. Degree was usually least important, except for determining paygrade. I've been working since middle school and only switched to a job in IT at the end of my bachelor's. In my master's I then checked out more companies and found a better fit. Bottomline, experience out of your field is extremely valuable. – Koenigsberg Jul 4 at 20:51
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Now though I am scared/insecure as to whether it is too late to get into programming at this age.

I had an apprentice start in their thirties, he's a very good programmer and I'd be happy to be on a team with him any day. There is no age limit to start.

I also had recruiters working for us trying to gently tell me that we might get older candidates for our requirements. Uh... when I say 20 years experience would be best, I don't expect to hire a 25 year-old who started in kindergarden. But I guess others do, otherwise said recruiter would not have brought up that subject.

What is critically important at least where I live is a solid education. No matter how you look at it, a programming job is looking for people with 3-5 years of formal education, whether that's an apprenticeship, a Bachelor or even Master. I have seen many people saying "but I have read those books on the weekends for almost half a year, doesn't that make me a programmer?". No, it does not. It makes you about as good a programmer as reading about accounting in my spare time for half a year on the weekends makes me a good accountant. It doesn't. If I'd try accounting with that little knowledge, I'd end up in prison. There is reasons why it takes those years of formal education to become a professional in any profession and just because programming is something people do as a hobby (unlike accounting I guess) that does not mean that their hobbyist knowledge is enough to get a job.

A CS degree does not really get old. Because it does not teach the latest hype to begin with. It teaches concepts. You did 3 programming languages in college? Well, you can learn a fourth and fifth. We all have. During my education, switching from the old 16bit to the latest and greatest 32bit was the thing. Today 32bit exists as a compatibility layer that fakes it so you can run those apps on the normal 64bit machines. Doesn't mean that my education is useless. If you want something where your education is always up to it, I guess there is only Latin-Teacher left for you. Everything else, the world constantly changes.

So my summary is, it is never too late to get an education or if you already have it, no matter how old, start in the workforce. You may want to apply to smaller companies, that actually look at every application and just tell the truth on your CV. Don't fake it, don't hide something. Just make sure you pick companies where real people with common sense still read CVs, you don't want to get filtered out by a machine because you didn't have the latest buzzword of the 5000 applicants they had.

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  • Thank you. This is solid. From a learner perspective, the college years (the few languages we learned and lectures) have definitely helped in teaching how to see patterns in different languages and projects. When you say don't hide anything would you recommend (as many do) to leave dates out, and on the interview be honest? – Mark kurti Jul 5 at 7:18
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    It depends. If you do it in my country, your CV would look so weirdly out of shape it would be a red flag. It would be better to leave them in. Other countries where other forms of CV are required might do better with hiding something. As an example, our are chronological. If I see a gap, I will assume you were in prison or a mental institution unless told otherwise. In other countries, it's good advice to leave everything of your CV that does not connect to the job you apply for. There it might be fine. You will need that advice tailored to the actual form of CV in the country you apply in. – nvoigt Jul 5 at 8:10
  • Note that even as Latin teacher, you should adapt: interpretation and discussion is also a part latin teaching, and many of the "god rapes woman"-stories could be discussed in "#metoo"ways nowadays.. – guest Jul 5 at 8:16
  • I agree with this answer, but where I live even the formal education is optional. I have a colleague who started programming in his mid-thirties as well and he's a fine addition to the team. – Erik Jul 5 at 8:18
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  • Exclude all dates which could help to identify your age
  • Even if person took traditional path, will be rejected many times so don't take it personally. It's not easy to find first job overall, there are many people who have basic programming skills. Corona adds extra competition because lots of people are laid off.
  • It doesn't matter when you went to university, you need to prove your skills for every job so concentrate what you can bring to the table and how could progress over time.
  • 164 private repos could help to stand out that you are naturally interested in programming without being formally employed - you are not doing it just for paycheck
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    Excluding those dates might not be possible in many countries. – nvoigt Jul 5 at 6:56
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    Is your answer about a certain country? Excluding ates wouls not be possible in mine. – guest Jul 5 at 8:13
  • Not country specific. In his case, just graduation year and date of birth to ommit. – Justozauras Jul 5 at 9:52
  • zipjob.com/blog/include-graduation-year-resume-zipjob, formally looking you can't be discriminated by your age. – Justozauras Jul 5 at 10:32
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Why do you want a job?

You need to come up with a credible, easily understandable answer to communicate that you are keen to find and keep employment.

Talking about your unwillingness to work in the past is not a sufficient explanation. You should be prepared to mention this and accept it as a flaw in your resume but try to keep any discussion brief (I'm not saying hide it, just don't ramble about it).

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  • Answer: I am disabled, my disability was worse than it is now and I have given it my all to improve it. Now that that's done, I want to put all my energies into my career, if I tried to do so back then, I would have not been able to be a useful member of any team. Many say not to accept it as a flaw, as if I was simply lazy, and not to come across as begging. – Mark kurti Jul 5 at 16:18
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    Not a good answer. You mentioned your history almost four times as much as you talked about the new job.... you need to turn that ratio on its head and talk about the future as an employee. – P. Hopkinson Jul 5 at 21:25
  • OK, I'll need to work on that. But that's the truth, I like programming and building a career around it I see as my next chapter/challenge. – Mark kurti Jul 5 at 23:19

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