Thoughts of a 48 Year Old Software Apprentice

Why become a mid-life software developer?

I imagine that if you are reading this then there’s already at least one thing that attracts you to programming/software development. My first career was in Project Management for Financial Services change programmes (remember the Millennium bug, anyone?). In my mid thirties I fancied a change, so I re-trained and started a new career building, fixing and driving Superyachts.

All good fun (how many people can say they have water skied around an iceberg?), but it took another decade to realise that the thing I really enjoyed was problem solving. Getting my head stuck into a good problem, one that pushes the limits of what I already know, but is still within reach given a bit of research or asking the right people the right questions.

That realisation has led me to programming, and a third career. I’ve tried to list some of the reasons I like it, and it would be interesting to know - how do they compare to yours?

  • You get to solve puzzles. Every day. All day. Sort of. There are meetings and admin and boring bits, but for the most part it’s essentially what I do, especially at this early stage in my journey. If you don’t like solving puzzles (and the subsequent mini endorphin hit) then you should probably do something else…
  • Great opportunities. Nowadays everything has software, and there are more exciting projects going on out there than you can imagine.
  • Pay and benefits. Flexible hours, location (work from the beach) etc.
  • You get to work with smart, interesting people (hopefully the guys I work with don't read this 😉).

I’m on a two year Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship. Which means that 4 days a week I work with experienced developers on real world projects and one day a week I go to Truro & Penwith College to learn the nuts and bolts of development. It’s a great mix which not only pays me a wage but will leave me with no debt.

Things I have I learnt so far;

  • The great thing about the apprenticeship model is that I am exposed to the real world, with all its chaos and compromise, whilst also learning, from scratch, the way it should be done according to the text books.
  • This way I learn far more than I can appreciate - through osmosis, being in the office and surrounded by ‘it’. Overhearing something you almost understand and asking “sorry, can you just go back a bit…”
  • If you really want a tech stack then it looks something like this:
    • HTML/CSS/Javascript
    • C++
    • Cypress
    • Vue
    • Typescript
    • Google Cloud Platform
    • Firebase
    • MYSQL
  • But really, the first thing that you learn in this industry is that the tools are just that…tools. Attitude is all - love solving problems, don’t give up, learn to learn.
  • Age is not a barrier! More on this to come…

If you are in a similar position and found this interesting I’d love to connect, you can find me here.

Last updated: 2022-12-14

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