Some People Learn to Code in Their 60s, 70s or 80s

Some, like Ms. McKerrow, are taking free lessons or video instructions online. (About a million of Codecademy’s 45 million users globally are 55 or older.) Others subscribe to web-based courses or take classes at community colleges, universities or boot camps.

“To say there are ‘many’ might be a stretch,” said Jake Schwartz, a founder and chief executive of General Assembly, which offers technology and design training online and in 20 locations worldwide to corporations and individuals. “But they have been a welcome addition to class dynamics.”

Many older coders want to develop new skills to keep their jobs or to start second careers. Some are looking for volunteer opportunities or hobbies in their retirement. Nearly all who have gone through the rigors of trying to understand correct syntax, algorithms and other technical foundations also gain a sense of confidence and accomplishment, while maintaining and improving their mental acuity.

Liz Beigle-Bryant, 60, of Seattle, credits the online classes she took in HTML and CSS code, the building blocks of the web, for helping her land a “dream job” recently as a document control coordinator at the public transit agency Sound Transit. She expects to use these tools often in her new position.

“One of the big obstacles in a job interview when you’re older is that people think you’re inflexible and you can’t learn new things,” said Ms. Beigle-Bryant, who was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant at Microsoft in 2011.

The code lessons she took a few years ago, also through Codecademy, “gave me an edge,” she said. “I developed a confidence that I didn’t have before.”

The operators of many of the nation’s nearly 100 coding boot camps say the vast majority of students enrolled in immersive training programs, which usually last 12 to 15 weeks and cost about $12,000 to $15,000, find employment upon completion. (The most popular program? According to Course Report, a website that monitors this industry, it’s a JavaScript-focused “full stack,” which teaches all stages of software development.)

Older people have been part of these success stories, too, yet they are often hesitant even to get started.

“I think so many people are discouraged because they think they’re too old,” said Letta M. Raven, a tech support specialist for a payroll software company and a frequent speaker at women’s tech conferences. She has…

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