I recently read an article about a research physicist in her 50s, Gillian Reynolds-Titko, who, after a successful 20-year career with an international chemical company, was downsized. A layoff for any middle-aged employee is always tough to handle. There are lots of questions about making ends meet, how to afford medical insurance and — perhaps most frightening, “How do I land another job at my age?”
Instead of panicking, Reynolds-Titko took a deep breath, spent some time examining her options and decided on an entirely different career path. She decided to become a programmer. "It was much more important to find something I wanted to do next than to jump into the first something that came along," she told Business Insider. Reynolds-Titko had previously played around with coding by watching online videos and taking a class or two, but never anything like coding a website or developing an app.
The tech industry has long had an image problem of discriminating against older-workers and Reynolds-Titko knew she would be taking a risk of not being hired, but figured it was “a risk worth taking.” After spending some time watching videos, perusing books and taking a few free online courses, she enrolled in a local coding boot camp, where she was the oldest participant. Immersing herself and working hard for 12 weeks, Reynolds-Titko learned Java. Upon graduation in May, she accepted a job offer as an IT business analyst with JPMorgan Chase, where her primary duties have to do with project management and overseeing other programmers.
Reynolds-Titko is a great example of someone starting over. Of course, her new position is entry-level and she did have to accept a significant cut in pay from her previous job. The fact is, however, that she turned a bad event into something good and landed a job that she enjoys doing.
IT has traditionally been an industry for the young. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median age of American workers is 42.3 years old. Compare that to a PayScale study that shows just six of the 32 technology companies it looked at had a median age greater than 35 years old. Eight of the companies had median employee age of 30 or younger.
Fortunately, the IT landscape is changing as more seasoned individuals are re-entering the job market and companies are seeing the benefits of bringing them aboard. Older employees bring some excellent advantages to a company:
- Loyalty and a desire to stay involved with work
- Confidence in their abilities to do a job, even when it “ain’t any fun.”
- Most of their life-challenges are behind us
- Literally decades of experience in business and life
If you’re a seasoned worker looking to re-enter the workforce, or just looking for a change in careers, the field of IT is a target-rich environment. One of the best ways to prepare for the move is with TestOut’s LabSim learning platform. LabSim delivers excellent certifications and courses, including their best-in-breed IT simulations. The LabSim courses are easy to follow, will keep you engaged and give all students a flexible and cost-effective solution for their IT education.
You don’t have to be a genius to get started in IT, just put forth a serious effort and don’t let anything stop you. As Reynolds-Titko said in her interview, “It’s more about, do you have the grit to stick to something and figure it out?"
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin hopes that the next "boot camp" craze will establish centers of learning for aspiring circus acrobats.