Programmer career after 30

It all went wrong initially.

After leaving school, there was a desire to become a programmer, but there was no exodus of free full-time education in the city, and education had to be received exactly free of charge and precisely higher. The first point was due to economic reasons – the end of the nineties, the parents have no money, the second point – the desire of parents to give their child an education “because without education they will not take a good job.” At that time, I did not understand anything in life, there was not the slightest idea what I liked and what I didn’t. School subjects did not evoke any special feelings, I just wanted to quickly break free from parental care in order to finally become independent.

Looking back, I believe that this was the most important miscalculation of parents – to believe that the very existence of a higher education solves all problems with work and organization in life. In fact, this “crust”, on which I spent 5 years of my life, never came in handy – I always presented it at the very last moment, when I signed the employment contract. It was just like a reminder that “you could.” But with the same success, I could have spent 5 years on something else – studying computer programs and manuals. It would be enough for me to have an experienced mentor. But there was no mentor, just as there was no opportunity to study at the desired university in the desired profession.

On the other hand, it was a different time: it was almost always “nerds” who became computer scientists, and “nerds” in the yard at that moment were “zapadlo”. The payment for the system administrators was like that of a service character – small, in contrast to the managers at the local city-forming enterprise. It was hard to imagine that yesterday’s sysadmins in stretched sweaters and buns of beer behind the closet would become hipsters, heroes of our time, about whom they would make films. Russia in the nineties demanded lawyers and economists to have someone to patch the holes left by the plundered postsovka.

I could be here
I could be here

In short, now I can only regret that I did not start my career as a programmer back then. This was the point of no return to which I would like to return and try to change something. Therefore, if you now have a question, succumb to circumstances or go your own way – go your own way, it will rather lead you to self-realization. And if you fail, then you will be calm, because you did what you could.

And we will go back to my youth, at the moment where I stand in front of the university doors to make a choice that will not please me later.

At that time, programming experience was almost zero, there was no computer at home, but there were several completed Turbo Pascal classes – a programming course for schoolchildren at a local computer center, which I managed to get to, but which was successfully abandoned – to draw circles with the code and squares had no desire.

YAP Pascal
YAP Pascal

At school, there was computer science, but it also did not cause much enthusiasm – I managed to touch “Agat” – our class had several times to attend introductory lectures, where we even played chess with a computer, but, of course, I would like to stay there after lessons, yes more often, but alas, there was no such option.

Computer Agat
Computer Agat

A little later, through an acquaintance, I ended up in the computer class of a kindergarten – and there, lo and behold, Russian “Electronics” were installed, which, in fact, began my more or less close acquaintance with computers and computer games.

Computer keyboard Electronics
Computer keyboard Electronics

As an acquaintance, I was able to check out the ZX Spectrum a couple of times, which made an indelible impression on me with the cassettes on which (just think!) The data was recorded! This is magic! You press Play on the cassette player, watch the blinking pictures and wait for the magic to happen and the game appears on the screen.

Cassette for ZX Spectrum
Cassette for ZX Spectrum

After some time, the computer class at the school was modernized and real IBM-compatible, the first Pentium and Celeron were installed there. Along with this, a rather boring study of computer theory and PL Basic begins, all with the same circles and squares.

YP Basic
YP Basic

School teachers did their best not to get interested in programming.

Then I went to paid training courses for the exam, and the first thing I noticed is that the teachers are good – they are full of energy, humor and a desire to teach. In three months, my top three in physics turned into a top five. Mathematics hasn’t improved so much – the physics and math class in which I studied was at a fairly high level – my lazy four, which I reached with almost no effort, did not bother me much.

At the university, the computer class was already better – there it was possible to play cooperative Half-Life and the first StarCraft there by close acquaintance.

In the second year of university, my parents bought me my first computer – it was a Celeron (the first or the second – I don’t remember exactly) with a discrete 8Mb video card and Windows 98 on board. Around then, I almost learned the same serial code of the Windows Installer, because the thirst for research pushed me to research from the series “without which files the axis can continue to live”, and I also collected and often used utilities that “will-improve-your-windows- and-fix-all-bugs ”because I wanted the computer to run faster. Later, I tried different 3D modeling tools, but I still didn’t get excited about programming.

Pirate disks
Pirate disks

In the remaining three university years, despite access to a computer, programming has not advanced a single step.

Well, then life began. I got into a managerial job, honestly tried to fulfill my tasks, and at the same time continued to look askance towards the development world. I decided to make my own website, downloaded an HTML manual via a creaking dial-up connection and made up the website using table tags, which I then placed on the hosting… At the same moment I found friends on ICQ, with whom I chatted indecently.

Two years later, I quit my managerial career, and rush into the pool with my head. Satisfied with my knowledge of HTML, I get a job as a web designer. It was a gamble! I have experienced all the memes about the hellish customers of the site design on myself.

Over the next years, I did site layout and designs, but I was still not a programmer. There were projects that I did on MODx and Joomla, but it was rather a small blotch of programming in a large CMS monolith. In general, I still liked visual art, I planned to stay in the mainstream of my chosen profession, until one day I realized that something had changed imperceptibly. Designers have replaced Orthodox Photoshop and beer for foreign Sketch and smoothies. I began to feel like an endangered dinosaur, which, instead of becoming the king of the mountain for so many years, never reached the top of the art style that would satisfy me – all my sites were not aesthetically pleasing enough, not stylish enough, and I started to hate foreign Sketch in absentia »Based on the fact that it is not a cross-platform product.

The last turn in my career came when I first decided to start writing in JavaScript on my own in order to introduce functionality on the site that was not “googled” by jQuery plugins. A year later, I realized that I had returned to the past, only I was no longer 17, but 33, and again I was standing at a fork where I had already stood. It was again the point of no return. Only this time I had a choice – to level my entire previous career and start from scratch, or buy a MacBook with a sketch.

I chose the first one. And it was excruciating. Painful and interesting. As a superhero during the day I was a web designer, in the evening I was a novice programmer lurking in the darkness of ignorance, diligently googling articles, lessons, everything that could teach me something. I’ve googled hundreds of courses, made a plan, and even took a few of them. But at the same time, he continued to feel unfinished, incomplete. A little later, I found out about the impostor syndrome, and I really was. Now I believe that if you feel like an impostor, then you are. So you need to do and learn something that will make you feel more confident!

I continued to study almost every evening, all weekend long I was coding, trying to code, starting a million pet projects, some of which have been in the trash for a long time. I still code a lot in the evening after work, but not as frantically as in the first two years.

Then I learned about algorithms. First there was the stage of rejection, then awareness, then acceptance. Then immersion in Computer Science – the one that is so unsuccessfully taught at school in its basic version. Only now this is my favorite lesson, which I want to go to.

Podcasts, conferences, IT bloggers – the world of programming poured out on me like God’s grace. I ran across the grass, where every blade of grass is someone’s project, an npm package with its own maintainers and a changelog. I breathed in the smell of freshness of perception, where bearded kulkhatskers, like titans, create PRODUCTS in the underground halls and sometimes go out to bless the new cameras and tell about new releases. Tell about new keyboards that click with such a sound and are pressed in such a way that you have a finger orgasm.

I seemed to be asleep, but I woke up. I realized that my lazy brain had been lazy all my life, not because I was like that, but because it was not interested. Now it’s fun to learn C ++ in 21 days.

But the energy is not the same. After thirty, closer to, it’s scary to think, 40, you have to start saving energy. Close unnecessary windows and tabs. Try to be outdoors more often so as not to turn into a humpbacked Gollum with a ring of Internet omnipotence. Pay more to the family, because the greatest value in our lives is our loved ones. You no longer want to unreasonably waste energy on everything. I would like to concentrate only on the important.

In programming, I like the fact that there is some tangible summit to which you can strive. If you are a web designer, you yourself find it difficult to understand whether you are good or bad, there are no metrics other than the sense of taste of the people around you. All these statistics, heat maps and so on are coffee grounds, but in fact the taste and color of the markers are different! In short, design is VERY subjective. There is only a certain set of gentleman designer rules, well articulated by Alan Cooper, whom I personally consider to be the father of interface design.

In programming, like in kung fu, there is a set of techniques that you can master. It can take years, but if you train, you will get into the big leagues so that you have a chance to influence the world with a code, because you will be making a hugely popular product.

There are “bati” at every step, there are many of them – people who became great during their lifetime. They write interesting books, give lectures.

In short, what I wanted to say is that after 30, discovering programming is cool.


And, despite all this text, I do not want to recommend programming to everyone, everyone, everyone. All people, like markers, are different. Don’t be fooled by job promises from course makers and sweet-talk HR articlescompanies. Success can only be achieved in a business that you really enjoy.

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