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Half Life of a Tech Worker: 15 Years 473

Posted by timothy
from the logan's-runtime dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Matt Heusser writes that when he went to work for Google all the people he met had a sort of early-twenties look to them. 'Like the characters in Microserfs, these were "firstees," young adults in the middle of the first things like life: First job out of college, first house, first child, first mini-van,' writes Heusser. 'This is what struck me: Where were the old dudes?' and then he realized something very important — you get fifteen years. 'That is to say, your half-life as a worker in corporate America is about age thirty-five. Around that time, interviews get tougher. Your obligations make you less open to relocation, the technologies on your resume seem less-current, and your ability find that next gig begins to decrease.' By thirty-five, half the folks who started in technology have gone on to something else — perhaps management, consulting, on to roles in 'the business' or in operations. 'Yet a few stick it out. Half of the half-life is fifty, and, sure, perhaps 25% of the folks who started as line technologists will still be doing that when they turn fifty,' adds Heusser. 'But by the time you turn thirty-five, you'd better have a plan.'"
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Half Life of a Tech Worker: 15 Years

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  • by A10Mechanic (1056868) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @12:37PM (#38250408)
    If you feel you've become less viable to the nameless corporation you drone for, make the brave choice and work for yourself. Would that I had the courage or inspiration to have made that choice, but I didn't. I regret that every day.
  • by Surt (22457) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:00PM (#38250566) Homepage Journal

    Misogyny isn't the same thing as gender bias. And I see nothing in this to suggest this is anything other than gender bias.

  • I don't know. I'm entering the second half of my thirties; I just changed jobs. From the time I went "on the market" I applied for four places, got four interviews, and received three offers. Over a period of about one month. I took an offer with a startup and didn't need to relocate - and I'm not the oldest hire they've made. So much for that half-life, reduced options, or inability to get hired because of being "too old" for development. (Yes, it's a development position and not management).

    Most companies really do value experience and proven ability over youth. Most of them appreciate that the experience and (sorry to use an HR-approved word) diversity of background and knowledge that experience brings.

    Keep your skills up to date. Keep networking. Like any other skilled profession, you'll find work if you're demonstrably good at what you do -- and I think in an economy like this one, us old dogs have an advantage with our experience. Companies are looking for folks to hit the ground running after they're hired, and 15-20 years of experience makes it a lot easier to do that.

    Personally, I never even considered applying to a company like google, because I know that they want you to dedicate a significant portion of your life to their company -- something that typically only younger folks [with fewer commitments] are willing or able to do. I'm not going to decide I have an absurd "half-life" -- I just won't apply to places that I know aren't a cultural match for me.

  • Misogyny isn't the same thing as gender bias. And I see nothing in this to suggest this is anything other than gender bias.

    Misogyny - it doesn't mean what you think it means.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny [wikipedia.org]

    "Misogyny .... is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel toward their own bodies

    How is being cut out of the job market based on gender not both "a sexist prejudice" and "an oppression of females"?

    Here - I'll quote the article linked from TFS again [computerworld.com]:

    Nanci Schimizzi, president of the mentoring and advocacy group Women in Technology, said jobless women 50 or older generally "remain unemployed for years, to the point where many have more or less given up" or changed careers.

    Men in the same age cohort aren't facing the same situation to such an extent that it's possible to make such a generalization for them.

    Gender bias (to use your term) isn't just limited to women over 50 - it's all-pervasive in the developer world. I guess you've never been confronted with an employer saying "I'll never hire a woman because I can't scream at them." Sure, no woman is going to want to work in such an environment - but to be denied equal access to employment based on gender is the reality in IT, and to those on the receiving end, white-washing it by calling it "gender bias" doesn't change the fact, or the damage, any more than it would if it were "racial bias."

  • by efalk (935211) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:49PM (#38250982)
    Never stop learning. You never know what skill you learn today might be the hottest new thing tomorrow. This week I learned Autodesk Inventor. Will it ever help me get a job? Probably not, but you never knew. Three years before that, I learned to program Android, and now I can't get the recruiters to leave me alone. You just never know.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:24PM (#38251236) Homepage Journal
    go to elance.com. upload your portfolio. do $5-10/hr bids and rack up enough reputation until you have 5-6 very good feedback in there. then start bidding for $15. you will be able to get enough projects to keep going. the majority of projects awarded will be by clueless people to $5/hr bids, but, there will be a minority who knows what to do and who to choose. these are generally people who regularly award projects. eventually you will be working regularly with one of them. after a period of time you will be able to do $30/hr. but, at that point, you will probably be working with at most 2 or 3 same clients regularly.
  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:35PM (#38252666) Journal

    Yes, but in the real world the PHBs get hired, and you dont.

    The truth is, people generally wont hire anyone older than they are, because theyfeel bad about telling older people what to do. Nothing else is relevant, certainly not skills and abilities.

    If you are over 40, you had better be the boss, or life sucks.

    What world are you living in. I know plenty of bosses in my workplace that are younger than me. I fill in for my boss when he's on leave sometimes. I don't mind doing it occasionally but his job is safe from me wanting to take over that's for sure.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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