And how old are you guys? How many have broken that 35 year old barrier. Well, I’m 50 and I’ve been doing this back when the Apple II represented the latest and greatest in hardware technology. I remember standing in awe at a brand new Compaq 386 super machine running a 32 megahertz processor and 4 megabytes of memory. That machine was all decked out and cost our company almost $30k. Which represented almost my entire paycheck back then.
Here’s my big issue: This career moves too damn fast. I’ve learned Cobol, ZModem protocol, Kermit, C, various proprietary languages, 8085A assembly, Pascal, CP/M, CP/M 86, MS-DOS, Awk, Perl, SCCS, RCS, and many other technologies that most have never heard of. Every few years, I am learning something brand new. Every few years, my competition gets younger and younger. They come out of college knowing the stuff I am trying to learn this year. I simply can’t keep up.
I am tired. I am old. If this was nature, I would be one of those lumbering dinosaurs watching those furry little mammals zip around under my feet waiting for that asteroid to take me away.
Yet, I am still here. Why? Because nothing pays as well. I could probably earn my paycheck at thousands of other occupations. I’m bright, talented, hard working, and imaginative. Yet, almost everything else would mean a 40% to 50% salary cut. Plus, with my job, I also get to run around sans tie and probably could get away without pants if I really wanted. I work from home when I don’t want to get up in the morning. I can leave my job in the middle of the day to go holiday shopping and no one complains.
We are the elite of the elite. We have more say and power in our jobs than anyone else in the entire history of mankind. I get to spec out the latest and greatest hardware. If I want to spend a week learning a new programming language, I can. We wear what we want, and pretty much set our own hours. We gaggle in the hallways like jacked up geese and talk about the latest video game. It is not only allowed, but expected. Maybe with all that talking, we’ll come up with the next killer idea.
Of course, I do work about 60 or so hours per week at a minimum. I get up in the middle of the night to handle crises. And, I have rare skills that people are desperate to pay for. But, damnit, I simply can’t keep throwing out everything I learned every other year just to remain current in this industry. After so long a career, most people would end up being the storehouse of vital knowledge. The guru of all things relevant. Instead, I am just an attic filled with the worthless junk of the past. Anyone needs to setup a UUCP network? I’m your man!
No, not everyone who wonders whether or not they should be in this job should quit. It is a tough, tough field, and more and more people are coming in. My 17 year old son is working on the next new web idea. It is actually quite good, and really has a good chance of taking off. He has already hired and overseen several development teams, and it is very likely he’ll be your next boss.
And, there are thousands of other highly technically savvy 17 year olds right behind him willing to take your jobs and boss you around. The last generation of computer geniuses dropped out of college to become billionaires. This generation isn’t even waiting to get into college before they redefine the field right from under you.
Welcome to the future. You are now free to panic.