Is it too late to pursue a career in computer science at 47?

In summary, if you are a good student and have good experience, you should be able to find a job in computer science.
  • #1
Listenupjunior97
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I'm 27 and I'm currently attending an online university for compsci. I did the math recently and I won't get my degree until I'm almost 30. Is it still possible for me to find jobs once I graduate?
 
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  • #2
Yes.
 
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  • #3
Listenupjunior97 said:
Ageism

I'm 27 and I'm currently attending an online university for compsci. I did the math recently and I won't get my degree until I'm almost 30. Is it still possible for me to find jobs once I graduate?
[Sigh] That isn't what ageism is. If you were 47 and asking this question, then there might be an issue.
 
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  • #4
Listenupjunior97 said:
Is it still possible for me to find jobs once I graduate?
That depends on how well you do in school and how well you do in the interviews. It will help if you can show prospective employers some projects that you have worked on, either in school or on the side on your own.

My son recently graduated from a Coding Academy here in NorCal (right at the start of the Pandemic, so job searching was extra challenging), but he did several projects and some volunteering at coding seminars for young people to help build up what he could show during his interviews. He's mid-20's and found a great job that he's currently very happy with. I doubt that an extra 5 years would have made any difference in his hiring process.
 
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  • #5
russ_watters said:
[Sigh] That isn't what ageism is. If you were 47 and asking this question, then there might be an issue.
That's odd. I heard a different story on Reddit
 
  • #6
Listenupjunior97 said:
That's odd. I heard a different story on Reddit
Maybe try to ask the same question but use something other than "ageism". Instead of using this word, remove it and use exactly as best you can, what you mean. I believe I understand what you meant, even without any changes.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint said:
Maybe try to ask the same question but use something other than "ageism". Instead of using this word, remove it and use exactly as best you can, what you mean. I believe I understand what you meant, even without any changes.
That's not the point. What I'm concerned is that am I going to be able to get a job in computer science and make the kind of money I want to make?
 
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  • #8
Listenupjunior97 said:
That's not the point. What I'm concerned is that am I going to be able to get a job in computer science and make the kind of money I want to make?
Then the answer is with much confidence although not absolutely complete confidence, "yes". Worrying about your age being 30 when you graduate would not be expected to be a problem, unless you have not been a superior student, or unless you lack employable experience.
 
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  • #9
Listenupjunior97 said:
I'm 27 and I'm currently attending an online university for compsci. I did the math recently and I won't get my degree until I'm almost 30. Is it still possible for me to find jobs once I graduate?
On the other hand, I see one possible problem and it is not related to your age. "online university". What are the conditions which constitute your online university instruction and course work activities?
 
  • #10
Listenupjunior97 said:
That's not the point. What I'm concerned is that am I going to be able to get a job in computer science and make the kind of money I want to make?
What is the type of job you expect in computer science, and how much money do you want to make?
 
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  • #11
I don't think anyone can argue that there will be absolutely no bias in favor of younger graduates when hiring for entry-level positions. Is that bias strong enough that it would prevent a 30 year old graduate from being competitive in the field in a general sense? I doubt it. I don't think it would even be a major obstacle.

In many cases having a little more life experience under your belt can be seen as an asset, rather than a liability. It gives you a few more years of maturity. You might be seen as more likely to make a long term commitment to your employer and more ready to build career rather than use the position as a stepping stone to something else.

The ageism factor that becomes more of a challenge to deal with is for cases were people rare nearing retirement age. Employers worry that candidates in their mid fifties and upward are looking for a position to coast into retirement. And particularly in technical fields, there's a concern that one's skill set is obsolete. Again a lot of that can be countered with how you sell yourself. Demonstrate that your skills are up to date and you have some recent projects of value under your belt. An employer is looking to hire you and not your demographic.
 
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  • #12
Choppy said:
I don't think anyone can argue that there will be absolutely no bias in favor of younger graduates when hiring for entry-level positions.
Why would there be such a bias? What would it look like/how would it manifest? You/the OP are suggesting a 23 year old would have an advantage over a 30 year old...but why?

Age bias is typically about money or [obsolete] experience, and an entry-level 30 year old neither has experience nor commands a high salary that would trigger the typical bias*.

What a little bit of age can provide is maturity/life experience, which employers should like because it may be an indicator of a more reliable employee they don't have to pay extra for.

I was a month short of 27 when I got my first job due to a stint in the navy and I was told the service was viewed favorably. It is very common to see people at 28-30 coming out of the military, getting degrees and entering into the workforce, competing favorably with other fresh grads.

*Note that there are legal protections against age bias, but they start at age 40 in the US. The idea that an entry-level 30 year old could see age bias is not something at least legally recognized.
 
  • #13
russ_watters said:
I was a month short of 27 when I got my first job due to a stint in the navy and I was told the service was viewed favorably. It is very common to see people at 28-30 coming out of the military, getting degrees and entering into the workforce, competing favorably with other fresh grads.
Doesn't military service translate to job experience (though not necessarily in the same field as the college degree)?
 
  • #14
CrysPhys said:
Doesn't military service translate to job experience (though not necessarily in the same field as the college degree)?
In most cases no.
 
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  • #15
Russ, what was your designator?
 
  • #16
Listenupjunior97 said:
am I going to be able to get a job in computer science and make the kind of money I want to make?
A job is not a reward for a degree.

A few points.

(1) If the job is coding in Swift, someone who has seen Swift before, perhaps in school, will have an advantage over someone who hasn't. That sample is probably skewed young. On the other hand, if the job is maintaining a zillion lines of legacy COBOL, someone who has seen COBOL before, perhaps in school, will have an advantage over someone who hasn't. That sample is probably skewed older.

(2) There are "computer science" programs that don't teach you a whit of computer science. They may teach you how to cobble together something in Python, but leave the graduates unaware of the difference between an array and a deque. Sometimes their graduates get jobs, but they are at a disadvantege compared to people who actually learned something.

(3) A shocking number of people who graduate from such programs cannot code. You don't want to be one, if you want to be a coder.
 
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  • #17
Vanadium 50 said:
A job is not a reward for a degree.

A few points.

(1) If the job is coding in Swift, someone who has seen Swift before, perhaps in school, will have an advantage over someone who hasn't. That sample is probably skewed young. On the other hand, if the job is maintaining a zillion lines of legacy COBOL, someone who has seen COBOL before, perhaps in school, will have an advantage over someone who hasn't. That sample is probably skewed older.

(2) There are "computer science" programs that don't teach you a whit of computer science. They may teach you how to cobble together something in Python, but leave the graduates unaware of the difference between an array and a deque. Sometimes their graduates get jobs, but they are at a disadvantege compared to people who actually learned something.

(3) A shocking number of people who graduate from such programs cannot code. You don't want to be one, if you want to be a coder.
Well my main goal is to be a quant developer, but as I mentioned I go to an online university. Yes it's accredited and it's non profit, but it's no Stanford or Harvard. If not that then a network engineer/administrator
 
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  • #18
Vanadium 50 said:
Russ, what was your designator?
Quartermaster; navigation assistant (In the Army I guess they are supply/logistics?). Nothing about it was directly applicable to a civilian job as an HVAC engineer. But "Sailor of the Quarter" did look decent on a resume.
 
  • #19
Listenupjunior97 said:
quant developer...network engineer/administrator

Totally different skill sets.

And there are accredited programs that are still lousy.
 
  • #20
russ_watters said:
Why would there be such a bias? What would it look like/how would it manifest? You/the OP are suggesting a 23 year old would have an advantage over a 30 year old...but why?
No. I'm not arguing that there is such a bias. Just that one can't prove the absence of such a bias.

I suppose there are reasons one could exist. One example might be https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html
 
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  • #21
Choppy said:
No. I'm not arguing that there is such a bias. Just that one can't prove the absence of such a bias.
This is the opposite of the way scientific/logical burden of proof works. It's almost never possible to prove a negative, and the one who suggests the possible existence of the thing should be proving its existence. I'm struggling now to see what the point was in that first paragraph in your prior post. I feel like I'm chasing a ghost/gremlin in this thread.
 
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  • #22
Suppose the level of bias is 0.0001%. Do we care?

I am sure the bias is not identically zero. In the zillions of jobs, that would require not a single hiring manager has any non-zero bias at all - implicit or explicit - no matter how small. So what? People are people.

The question is is this an important effect? I see no evidence that this isn't dwarfed by other effects.
 
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  • #23
Vanadium 50 said:
Suppose the level of bias is 0.0001%. Do we care?

I am sure the bias is not identically zero. In the zillions of jobs, that would require not a single hiring manager has any non-zero bias at all - implicit or explicit - no matter how small. So what? People are people.

The question is is this an important effect? I see no evidence that this sin't dwarfed by other effects.
Thanks, yes, this is the subtext of what I was complaining about; if it can't even be defined/described, much less measured or proven then it is probably not significant.
 
  • #24
Vanadium 50 said:
Totally different skill sets.

And there are accredited programs that are still lousy.
Different skills such as what? Most quant dev jobs require a computer science degree last I check.
 
  • #25
Listenupjunior97 said:
Different skills such as what? Most quant dev jobs require a computer science degree last I check.
But you wrote above:

Listenupjunior97 said:
Well my main goal is to be a quant developer, but as I mentioned I go to an online university. Yes it's accredited and it's non profit, but it's no Stanford or Harvard. If not that then a network engineer/administrator
<<Emphasis Added>> Depending on the particular university, particular program, and particular responsibilities under the blanket of "network engineer/administrator", a degree in information technology, e.g., not computer science, would give you better preparation for these jobs.
 
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  • #26
CrysPhys said:
But you wrote above:<<Emphasis Added>> Depending on the particular university, particular program, and particular responsibilities under the blanket of "network engineer/administrator", a degree in information technology, e.g., not computer science, would give you better preparation for these jobs.
When it comes to quant development that's more geared towards CS and Software Engineering?
 
  • #27
I dunno. I have no degree and I'm in my late 60s, but I always seem to find a good job as a software architect, CTO or VP. Then again, I specialize in early-stage start-ups, not big, established corporations with HR departments to filter out all the real talent. :cool:
 
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  • #28
Listenupjunior97 said:
When it comes to quant development that's more geared towards CS and Software Engineering?
My degrees are in physics, but somewhere along the way in my career I worked as a network engineer, so I addressed that part of your response. I have no experience in quantitative analysis, but there are others here who do. Perhaps they will respond. I also recall there were several previous threads on careers in quantitative analysis, so you should do a search. I would think you would have resolved the proper choice of major before enrolling in your online program.
 
  • #29
Choppy said:
I don't think anyone can argue that there will be absolutely no bias in favor of younger graduates when hiring for entry-level positions. Is that bias strong enough that it would prevent a 30 year old graduate from being competitive in the field in a general sense? I doubt it. I don't think it would even be a major obstacle.

In many cases having a little more life experience under your belt can be seen as an asset, rather than a liability. It gives you a few more years of maturity. You might be seen as more likely to make a long term commitment to your employer and more ready to build career rather than use the position as a stepping stone to something else.

The ageism factor that becomes more of a challenge to deal with is for cases were people rare nearing retirement age. Employers worry that candidates in their mid fifties and upward are looking for a position to coast into retirement. And particularly in technical fields, there's a concern that one's skill set is obsolete. Again a lot of that can be countered with how you sell yourself. Demonstrate that your skills are up to date and you have some recent projects of value under your belt. An employer is looking to hire you and not your demographic.
so basically what you're saying is employer would pick a younger person over a 30 year old? Did I miss something from this post?
 
  • #30
russ_watters said:
[Sigh] That isn't what ageism is. If you were 47 and asking this question, then there might be an issue.
Well All I know is when I asked a similar question of reddit I was told otherwise. Unless reddit is the wrong forum to ask this type of question.
 
  • #31
Listenupjunior97 said:
so basically what you're saying is employer would pick a younger person over a 30 year old? Did I miss something from this post?
Not so likely with that example. Age 30 not much different than Age 27; more important is what the candidate knows how to do and what the candidate understands. Bosses start to feel insecure when a candidate is at higher risk of dementia, physical limitations, or other health & medical risks.
 
  • #32
Listenupjunior97 said:
so basically what you're saying is employer would pick a younger person over a 30 year old? Did I miss something from this post?
That's not what I'm saying.

Argh. I need to be more careful. Apologies to all if my meaning was misconstrued.

First, we need to establish whether there is any objective evidence of age-related bias in hiring between candidates in their early twenties being favoured over candidates over thirty for entry level positions in entry-level STEM positions. The only evidence I can find is anecdotal, for example this (dated?) blogpost. And generally speaking, ageism is illegal, which means there's a pressure acting against it in any overt sense.

So at best, it's uncertain whether "under 30 favouritism" exists in today's (or in your case future) hiring environment. And then, even if it does exist, to V50's point, there's the question of how much weight it carries in determining the outcome of a job competition?

In most cases I highly doubt it would carry much weight at all, when compared to other factors such as your skill set, experience, education, etc.

Also, you're going to turn 30 anyway.
 
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  • #33
Listenupjunior97 said:
reddit
You can find someone one reddit with any position on any topic whatsoever.
 
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  • #34
So first let me say I think the demand for CS is so ridiculously high that ageism isn't a thing until you're 65. And maybe not then. That's just my opinion, and is based on second hand experience. I wouldn't mention it except I want to tell a story.

The story isn't even CS, but I do think it fits the topic. Humor me?

I recently interviewed at Shopify. I'm not exactly looking to move, but I do believe in the philosophy of Always Be Interviewing, and where I am isn't perfect. So why not.

Shopify has what they call a "Life Story Interview", which is billed as "A one hour, conversation-style interview with a recruiter." Should be easy!

It went roughly (I'm leaving out chunks) like this:

Interviewer: Tell me about the very first job you ever had.
Me: [Describes an early high school job I had 30 years ago]
Interviewer: So that is what piqued your interest in data science?
Me: [Thinking to myself that data science didn't exist 30 years ago] No. . . though I guess it's why I like computers?
Interviewer: Yes let's talk about that, was CS or Stats your major entering college?
Me: Entering college? No that was engineering.
Interviewer: So tell me about your engineering degree.
Me: No, my degree initially was engineering, but the degree I earned was in physics.
Interviewer: So tell me about your work in physics.
Me: [Describes what I did for a paycheck in physics]
Interviewer: That's great. Tell me how that led to Data Science.
Me: Well, that led to actuarial work, which led to DS.
Interviewer: Tell me about your first actuarial job.
Me: Well, my first actuarial-
Interviewer: TIMES UP

When someone asks me "How did you get where you are", I have a short, succinct answer to give. But above I answered the questions honestly. Which was clearly a mistake, right? But aside from directly lying, it's kinda hard to answer the questions I was directly asked.

After thinking about it a bit, my take is that I'm just too darn old for the Shopify Life Story interview. The same questions that work great for a 25 year old simply do not work for me. It's not quite ageism, but I did feel penalized due to the amount of experience I had.

And so I'm not a fan.
 
  • #35
Locrian said:
When someone asks me "How did you get where you are", I have a short, succinct answer to give. But above I answered the questions honestly. Which was clearly a mistake, right?
No! You did well. You are trying to illustrate how the interview went by trying to make a possible representing transcript of it, and that can be difficult. As you give the process, the interviewer broke the parts of the topic into too many. If the "Times Up" point was truly the whole interview, then the interviewer did nearly nothing to learn about your skills and formed concepts.
 
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