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Is age a factor for hiring entry level computer engineers?

I am in my mid thirties with a Bachelor's degree in computer engineering but no professional experience. After graduation I worked in other fields just to gain a living. I am looking for a job as programmer, but my age and lack of hands on experience seem to block me. I had couple of internships, I have worked on some projects in my free time just to keep up with market demands, but it doesn't seem to satisfy employers. How can I break through? #computer-science #programming #computer-engineering #java


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Tejas’s Answer

I dont think age is a criteria at all. Experience -- maybe. It depends on the role you seek: you could apply for an entry level developer. Usually sharing your code samples and projects on github is the first step; creating and maintaining a good LinkedIn profile is another.
To get a good hands on experience, study about how to crack coding interviews and code daily. There are a bunch of coding problems you can solve right away and they are more often than not, most of what you need. You need to have a sound base of principles of Computer science as well.. and there are a bunch of reference books available for it.
In short, code and learn as much as you can.. there is no age to start / stop learning :)


All the best!


While I agree with the answer, I do want to emphasize that at the entry level, you will be judged by eagerness and energy, so be sure you convey that, not just in what you can show you know and have done, but attitude and excitement you convey. Lionel Silberman

thanxx tejas m manjula M.

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Brian’s Answer

Best of the Village

This is a great question.


For many companies, there maybe "hiring guidelines" in place, but ultimately this will be somewhat subjective to the hiring manager and in relation to the team. While ideally for every position and for each candidate an objective assessment is done against the skills of the candidate, there are other factors that come into play in various ways.


For example, given a candidate, the question will come up to as to if they are a fit for the team. Team dynamics are something that must be taken under consideration and should be for the benefit of both the company as well as the candidate. It makes no sense to hire someone for a role on a team where there is a misfit.


That being said, diversity is an important aspect to building a team that is sometimes misunderstood. While considering team dynamics and trying to assess if a candidate can "fit in" to the existing team, you certainly don't want to hire clones of existing team members with the thought that they will get along. It is critical when assembling a team to have diversity in many different areas like sex, age, experience level, past roles/career path in order to have different opinions that might not always agree.


My transition from there is what I focus on more. While a particular position may dictate the level of experience required, I am particular to understand the aptitude of a candidate and their soft skills. Provided I can afford some flexibility as to the candidates existing skill level, I am more interested in where they have been in the past. If this role is a bit of a career change for them, why did the change. I want to find candidates that are eager to be in the role, open to learning, embrace the concept of "I know what I know, and I know what I don't know". For that last part, I like to understand from a candidate that they do embrace their current knowledge and I then focus on understanding if they possess the ability to grow.


Like with other aspects of ones career and past, I consider what they have done in the past, but I really want to know if they possess the capability to do it again understand different circumstances and with different problems. That idea is more in line with if they possess the capability to execute. Most candidates will put past work on the resume but you really cannot tell for us what involvement they had with it. Maybe they were just a small participant that didn't provide most of the effort to go from the problem space to the solution, but given their involvement they can speak to that path from hindsight. That can be a problem if they are hired and you expect/need them to work a problem but can't get it off the ground.


That was a lot I just shared, so let me try to reel that in to focus more on your question. When considering to apply for a job, make sure you understand what the position entails and assess if you feel comfortable being in that role. I find too often some candidates are simply looking to "get a job" and don't consider that part. Just think if you did get the job, or a job, that was too far of a stretch, but you were able to interview well. I consider more favorably a candidate who is careful with their questions and really seeks to understand what the role is and what would be asked of them.

The second important idea is to prepare yourself for a question in line with why would you be a fit for the role. Some interviewers ask this, but not all, but as a candidate I would answer it anyway. That allows you to express why, even though your years of experience in the particular field is less than others, you are the right choice for the job.
In your case, you have a degree in computer engineer, but out of college had other priorities and/or obligations, and now you are looking to get back to your degree discipline. I would suggest you be as open with your past in as much as you are comfortable with. Someones personal past is not something that should be ever asked by an interviewer and in no way taken under consideration for hiring, but may help the interviewer better understand why your career path took the route it did and help them feel more understanding as to what your convictions are and your intentions and purpose for pursuing the position you are considering.


I hope this helps.


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Lance’s Answer

When I was in my late thirties, with a bachelors' degree and a PhD in a fairly unrelated field (linguistics) and no professional experience, I changed careers out of academia and into, well, "linguistics developer" according to my job title, but "programmer" according to what I do all day. Which is to say: it's at least possible to break through!


I think other commenters have covered most of the active, practical advice I could give. Having projects that you've worked on in your free time are a good way to show, not only your abilities, but your interest and enthusiasm in programming. And there's no question that networking is helpful.


I can also say that my company, while it hasn't particularly had a search for a developer in a while (we're still in the "small-ish startup" stage, and past the "growing from small to small-ish" stage), definitely didn't take age into account when interviewing people. Experience only mattered the few times we've looked for a "senior developer"; when we were hiring junior developers, we definitely were more interested in talent and enthusiasm than youth and experience. (Again, I managed to get a job here, after all!)


So I'm not necessarily full of advice, but I can at least offer encouragement. If it's what you want, stick with it! Someone out there should be able to see your talent.


thank you! m manjula M.

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Thomas’s Answer

Well straight up I'm going to tell you it's rough. There is definitely ageism in the field. Usually the first year or two is writing support code and defect fixing. The next few years is writing software at a Junior level and then 5-10 year people are writing at a Senior level. After that individuals usually go two paths. Management or Architecture (sometimes called a principal).


Your problem is that your older and the businesses are going to think you want a larger salary than what they can pay someone who is 22-23 and fresh out of college (although they make more than they should quite often). If you had the experience then they would pull you in at the Senior level but you don't have it so they tend to shy away from you. Plus you're being stereotyped where they think you won't dedicate a ton or hours to the job.


How to break in? Wish I had an easy answer for you. Bigger corporations are really going to be hard to get hired. They want you to know your stuff inside and out. Smaller corporations have smaller staff but they'll probably X you out without much thought. Your best bet is to get experience at a place you're probably not expecting to work at. Like a newspaper or a TV station. These places don't usually hire the best and brightest, mainly because they don't want to pay for it, but they do need software developers. And that's not saying you're not good but you're having a hard time proving it. You need to get about 3-5 years under your belt somewhere and then you can expand into better positions.


Good luck!


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