I started coding later in life, and I’m 2+ years into my coding career now. It’s been worth it for me, but I won’t sugar-coat things. There is some ageism out there. One employer, a start-up, was quite interested in me - I’m a LAMP stack applications developer - but my interviewer who was thinking aloud all throughout my interview, said that she was worried that I might not fit well working under the “CTO” who was a guy in his early 20s. A part of me understands how this dynamic could be difficult, but on the other hand, it was narrow-minded on their part.
Being older has also at times played in my favor. My current boss was like me, he started in IT later in life, and I know that probably played into why he wanted to hire me. Keep in mind, it’s not a picnic for young developers out there either; they are often perceived as inexperienced, immature, and lazy. These are unfair stereotypes, but this is a reality of IT employment and hiring that it’s important for junior developers of all ages to learn about.
For the most part, developers use a system of junior, mid, and senior designations. Junior developers are in the first few years of development; they are seen as having (and do) have a lot to learn, they are perceived as more mistake prone, they are seen perhaps as more flexible and pliable, and at the bottom of the pile. Mids are in between. I see mids as often having to work the hardest as they are climbing the ladder. Senior developers are seen as more experienced, more knowledgeable, maybe a little less flexible, possibly not as up-to-date with new trends. Senior developers often wield the real power in a development group; managers may really consult them about everything, and in some development settings, it’s all about keeping those senior folks happy. Unfortunately, this system can make it hard for older newcomers who are juniors to fit in a very hierarchical setting. It can be done, it can be navigated, but it’s hard.
I wish someone had shared this kind of information with me before I started in IT. Of course, this is only my experience and not to be over-generalized to every setting. The world of IT is huge and getting bigger all the time with things constantly changing. What are your experiences with age/ageism and junior/senior dynamics?