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Question

Where's the best place/way to find highly talented front-end web developers?

Tags: developer front-end
Date:
Status:Unresolved
Question Id:66
Answer
Date:
Correct:No

A software developer I know recently got a call from a recruiter at Google, asking what it would take for him to come to work for them.

This developer had actually already worked for Google, but he left about five years ago to pursue other projects, and he didn’t want to live in one of the cities that have a Google office. Even though he didn’t have a degree in computer science and never took a college course in OOP, he must have impressed them enough to keep him on the recruitment list these years later. The recruiter suggested maybe he could be interested in interviewing with the Project Loon team in Singapore.

He gave a little chuckle to the recruiter over the phone, and his first question was: You know how old I am, right? The recruiter confirmed that yes, his date of birth was on file, and that Google didn’t factor age into its recruitment policies. The developer agreed to think about the prospect and they agreed to touch base again in a week.

That 66-year-old developer is my father. He is collecting social security while being courted by Google. He had a fulfilling career running his own company, consulting, and being an employee. He made contributions during the early stages of numerous technologies such as TCP networking, USB protocols, 802.11b implementation, and military GPS. Then he was hired by Google in 2008, when he was 58.

While at Google, he wrote software in Java, a language that wasn’t even invented until he was 45. And he was an individual contributor, without having any other engineer report to him.

One of the great things about software development is it’s all about your passion to learn and ability to perform, which is demonstrated by my dad’s career and the careers of thousands others. If you don’t have those required ingredients, then sure, software development is a dead-end job at any age. But if you have the passion and skill, then it is not a dead-end job after 40, 50, or even 60.

Answer
Date:
Correct:No

I am a 65-year-old software engineer who has worked for Apple, Adobe, eBay, Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, FileMaker, XO Communications, 2Wire, Egnyte, Nexsan, and two other start-ups. I have been laid off five times in my career. I always find another job within 3 to 4 weeks — even during a recession. I have had my job outsourced to India or China four times: especially in the last eight years. Nonetheless, there is always another employment opportunity waiting afterwards.

I love what I do. I’m still doing it; and, I have no immediate plans to stop doing it. Moreover, I am good at it. That’s not so much because I am a genius but rather because I have been doing software development for a really long time and I learned from my mistakes. In fact, there is no wide-spread computer language I can’t program in. Nor is there any OS platform I am not comfortable working on. And, besides the U.S., I have also worked overseas in Apple’s factories in China and Ireland. Besides English, I’ve learned to speak (poorly) Spanish and Italian, and I can manage about a ten phrases in Mandarin.

I have managed to do all this while successfully being married for 40 years, raised two adult children (one who is a Netflix software engineer), and I now have five grandchildren. According to the last Social Security report I receive annually from the government, my total lifetime income to date is: $3,042,040; and, I’m not done yet.

Having said all this, it is very much true that age discrimination and outsourcing is rampant in the Silicon Valley. Before age 45, I had a better than average chance of getting a job after a single interview. Now, at age 64, it takes me about ten interviews before I get the next job. Even then I sometimes have to work as a contractor without benefits. And, I have even learned to tolerate being interviewed by arrogant and entitled young preppies, most whom think they are somehow better than me even though they haven’t accomplished one tenth of what I have, nor have my superb academic credentials. (I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a M.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M University — the latter at the top of my class.)

So, the answer to your question is: NO, software development is most certainly not a dead end job! It is a great job. Does it get tougher to get your next job as you get older? Oh hell yes. But, so what! If you love it as I do nothing but death or poor health can stop you. All it takes is a determination.

Never give up!

Follow up edit: Wow! Thanks for all of the great comments and positive feedback! After much thought and consideration, I have decided to move into part-time consulting and full-time retirement on September 1, 2019. However, I will still be programming and possibly teaching at the nearby Texas State University - San Marcos. I’m not giving up. I’m just moving on to a new phase.

Steve Ussery

Answer
Date:
Correct:No

Any job becomes a dead-end sooner or later, that’s why people retire. I am a 55 y.o. programmer and when I was 40 it seemed that I will enjoy programming forever, it was just a well-paid hobby. The problem is that this job requires not just brain but also well functioning fingers, wrists, eyes, spinal cord, neck etc. and all these things are not getting better with age. Add to this gradual reduction in energy, possible insomnia etc. and one day you realize that you could live better just by gardening, watching kids, walking a lot, perhaps swimming in a warm ocean.

I agree that working on something creative and unique (or extremely well paid) could keep interest longer but most of us are not so lucky. As for me, I worked as a well-paid contractor for 20 years with all these “cutting edge” things that become obsolete in 3 years, then switched to stable permanent job to support and develop very complex logic written in FoxPro for MS-DOS. I resisted going back to one of my first skills but they offered good compensation. Ten years later the system I supported initially with 2 colleagues and then alone was completely replaced by system from IBM that does a bit more than old soft and employs the entire floor of hard working analysts, they basically prepare requirements for IBM but don’t write any code :) I didn’t want to join this team and switched back to web-apps, writing code still wakes me up… the problem is that now writing code became like 10% of work, the rest is never-ending communications with people who are responsible for deployment, security, testing etc. What was done within 10 minutes 10 years ago now takes 2 weeks… so much bureaucracy… this is not a well-paid hobby anymore, I would retire tomorrow if I could…

Answer
Date:
Correct:No

It’s usually a dead end job after age 27–32 assuming you graduate at 22.

Optimizing for cash flow, the average engineer will have reached their terminal level with maximum possible compensation just over $300,000 barely making it into the top earning 1% of Americans.

Those with more interest and aptitude in leadership usually peak one level beyond that with a $500,000 potential just crossing into the top 1% of households most of which have two working adults.

Migrating to management is a lateral move which doesn’t change that. The skills for success converge between management and technical tracks, limiting people to the same level in either.

Few progress farther although you can enjoy working into your 70s building companies, teams, and products; learning new things; and refining your skills.

Note

  1. This dictates working in one of about a half dozen US markets.
  2. Optimizing your career requires living in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are more startups to find the right one. While companies pay similarly in remote US offices, the Bay Area has more large growing company headquarters and each main office has more opportunities for advancement.

    Many people compromise to improve other areas of their life.

    Either choice is fine, but you should consciously decide.
  3. While a dead end job, it lets you save enough to retire at 45 so that’s not an issue.
  4. All jobs have a limit.
Answer
Date:
Correct:No

My husband is 47 or something like that. I keep forgetting how old he is or I don't want to remember:) Anyway, I asked him to write a program for me. He learnt web development, Angular, React, Bootstrap, etc. and all that web cr..p, pardon me, frameworks in a month. Before that for over 15 years he was hard core C++, programming database engines. I must mention though he is a genius. What I want to say that if the person's brain is wired for programming and they know the core/foundations of how everything works, they can pick up new stuff very fast. He can't make a nice looking app though. To him if an app looks like a Unix command prompt, it's good enough :)

Answer
Date:
Correct:No

It’s not a dead-end. But yes you would face lots of problem once you are 40 and trying to search for a job.

Most of the companies try to hire younger developers as they don’t have any commitments or responsibilities towards family as they do not have wife or kids. A person of 40 will have lots of responsibilities on his shoulders like wife, children, parents, etc. Moreover, the experienced developers need to take leaves very often to compensate their social responsibility. They might be having medical issues like B.P., Diabetes, Depression, etc. as seen in the IT sector employees due to lots of pressure of deadline.

Second thing, the productivity of younger developers could be higher than the older developers because the younger generation has more energy However, the experienced person can be more productive because of his experience and he could do the work with less code and in less time.

So, yes. At the age of 40, it is tough to find a job as a software developer. But, if you agreed upon lesser salary compared to your skills and experienced you can get job. In short, you need to compromise on any part to get a job after 40 in the Software development sector.

Answer
Date:
Correct:No

Mid-50s here. I no longer have any intentions of working for a startup or any trendy company of which I am not an owner.

There are 3 simple paths for an over-50 software engineer, all of which are fine:

(1) Find a job maintaining legacy code in the language you used when you were starting out. I cannot begin to tell you how high the demand is for programmers fluent in: COBOL, Perl, RPG, and I am sure there are more. It may not be “sexy” but man, will you be appreciated.

(2) Do consulting work. When you bid for a consulting job, especially a complex one, nobody cares about your age

(3) Create a solution for something at a price point nobody else can match and use economies of scale - web-based solutions are key here but it can also be canned software. I do this at one of the companies in which I am a partner. It is not yet my primary income source, but I expect it to be soon. The thing about technology startups that few people get is that if you have a good solution, salespeople are a dime a dozen and will work on (mostly) commission if they see how good your product is. Just make sure it is actually good.

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