In the Fall of 2002, I started taking my first computer science class at 29 and then three years later landed my first tech job at 32. It took me a bit to grasp programming since I was traveling when possible and working a full time job in an unrelated field while taking computer science courses at a community college. A year later at 33 I became a freelance web developer, circa 2006. In 2011 at the age of 38 I accepted a job offer with the Walt Disney Company as a Web Developer working in a large team of engineers and QA. Some of my coworkers were younger and some were older. It was not really an issue and I learned a lot in that environment. Our team leader which is the person that is one step higher in the hierarchy of developers was probably in his late 50’s maybe early 60’s and had been a tech manager at Yahoo prior to being at Disney. He had been a Java developer all his career. We never saw him as old. We respected him for his leadership and mastery of his skillset.
I since went into a different field and bought a hotel with the money I made as software developer. However, I still write code and have built software to better run my business operations. At 47, I’m currently evolving my business’s apps (POS reservation management system used by my team) and have recently been updating my skillsets in Java Spring Boot. Technology has become a fundamental part of our daily lives such that you can end up using it for your personal use or for your business. I have even been contemplating placing my business under a management team and go work in the industry to better refine my tech skill. It’s never too late. What really matters is your contribution. I believe most software developers would rather work with a 50-something year-old competent developer than a 25 year-old incompetent developer.
Before quitting because you loathe working for your boss or working for anyone period, changing your perspective of working for someone can be beneficial for the business you plan to start. Have a game plan of what can help you succeed in your business endeavors. Choose to work in an industry you would like to do business in. If it requires academic talent such as technical skills, marketing, accounting, etc., take courses to bring you up to speed. Nowadays there are many options with online courses and certifications. You no longer need a 4-year degree to get your foot in the door. Work for someone or a company you admire and want to emulate. Learn how they do things, learn how managers operate, study their management styles, their leadership. Learn what they do to get business walking through the door. How do they formulate marketing campaigns. What do they do when revenue and cashflow dries up. How do managers and team leaders motivate their team to go above and beyond. As a business person, you will encounter all these obstacles and more. Turn your job into a college education of hard knocks. Working for other people may be a bad experience only when you don’t realize the potential it can give you in return. You will have good leaders and bad ones. Learn from the bad ones as well. Learn what not to do and why while being on the other side of the aisle.
I now have my own business and I regret not working more frequently for other talented people. The bosses I did work for, which at the time I dreaded, have been the most influential in how I execute in my business. I did not realize at the time that I was going to be using their tactics and leadership skills to execute in my business. I only realized once I was in their shoes. With the right frame of mind, it is precious information. Your end game is to be in business for yourself and so this way your killing two birds with one stone – making money you can put towards your future business and learning the ropes in a real world scenario. If you can, work for free if it allows you to get closer to the person that makes the decisions. You can study how they operate. Studying and picking the mind of the decision-maker in a successful company would be an invaluable education experience. You can’t get this type of education at a university and by the time you start your own business it’ll be too late.