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When am I too old to learn programming?

This comes in from a reader, and I thought it might make an interesting blog post.

After reading your "general life lessons" blog

I consider this a programming blog as opposed to general life lesson blog. But, then again, I'm writing this post, so...

I wanted to ask if you have known anyone who has came into the field of programming at a later age with no prior experience and if so how did they learn?

I know tons of people who came to the field or programming later in life w/ no prior experience. Of course, the bulk of them entered the field in the 80s and 90s. It might be harder to do that today. I'll get to the 'how did they learn' later.

and can the field of programming be for everyone?

I'd like to think so.

Im turning 30 next year with 12 years of blur behind me.

I just want to point out that, from my perspective, you are not entering the field 'later in life'. Unless you plan to spend the next 20 or so years studying before trying to enter the workforce. 30 isn't old nor later in life.

I just finished my AA and intro classes into programming(basically C++ Syntax and excercises). what brings me down is the guidance from other people. when I ask for advice from people in the field most answers are "get an internship", "things will come together when you graduate", and "work on real-world applications".

It sounds like you're too beginner to be considered for an internship, but maybe in a year or two. If you can get an internship or Co-op or similar work-study program I highly recommend it. It gives you work experience and programming experience with no expectations of preexisting knowledge. I cannot say enough good things about my own co-op experience--back in the mid 90s.

As an entry-level CS student with a plethora of information its difficult for me to understand what should i be learning not necessarily in order but things i need to know to break into the field one day. I think i pretty much hit a HUGE learning curve after learning how to print to screen, receive input, ifs and switches, loops, arrays, pointers, and classes.

Earlier you asked how people learn. People learn in a lot of different ways. I, personally, learn by experimenting with stuff and writing about it which is why my blog is full of programming posts, some stuff about obscure bugs, some about weird trivia, and some are just super basic stuff.

C, or C++, is pretty low-level. Not bad for basics, but it is unlikely you will graduate to work in that language. The thing I recommend concentrating on is learning concepts. It sounds like you have very basics. But, learn about how to use classes to create your own data types. Learn about encapsulation principles and separation of logic and data, and how loosely coupled pieces can fit together to build something more. That sort of stuff will, hopefully, come in some more advanced classes. Also experiment with other languages; especially other language types. SQL is a different type of language than C, and LISP is completely different than either of those, as some random examples.

All those things will make you a better programmer, and while in school for programming that should be your primary goal.

That said, I fully believe that being a good programmer will not help you get a job. For that you'll need to learn some marketing and networking. An internship can give you a jump start on that.

Unfortunately, interviewing has changed in the past 3-5 years. It becomes more about programming trivia than about how to get things done. I've been on some brutal client interviews where even when I do awesome I have no desire to move forward.

There are some random thoughts. What do you think?

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