How to Break into Tech as an “Older” Career Changer
It’s no secret that there are a lot of 20 and 30-somethings working in the tech industry. So the concern about being “too old” to start a career in tech is valid—but only so far as it helps you explore and understand:
- How the challenges you face might be different from colleagues in their 20s or 30s
- How your years of experience in other fields can set your applications apart from the rest of the pile
- How to actively demonstrate to potential employers the tremendous value you would bring to any given role
Why are we so convinced that it’s never too late to start a career in tech? Because we have seen career changers who were worried about being “too old” not only successfully start a career in tech, but to succeed and thrive over the long term.
Take Jeff as an example—a pastor turned UX designer. In his own words:
“Being middle-aged, it was a little intimidating taking on such a drastic career change, especially in a field that has the reputation of being oriented towards a younger demographic. However, I’ve found that relevance, creativity, and ability are a mindset and often we can be our own worst enemies. In many cases, our limitations are not based on age but attitude. I’ve found the key for me is to embrace my stage of life while keeping a youthful attitude that embraces change, innovation, and evolving creativity. That’s the secret to success at any age!”
The reality is that your being “older” simply means that you’re “wiser”—which means that:
- You have more (and probably more varied!) work experiences than younger applicants and colleagues.
- You’ve navigated more challenges and conflicts.
- You have a clearer idea of what you want and how you need to grow.
- You’ve had more time to master soft skills like communication, organization, and empathy—arguably the most important skills to have in any position.
So, regardless of how many candles will be on your next birthday cake, don’t let a number hold you back from pursuing a career you love. Instead, learn to adapt and tackle challenges as they come—and know that the right employers (there are lots of them) will see and appreciate the value you bring to the team!
Sami Gardner is an experienced educator who has spent the last five years researching, teaching, and speaking on career development, branding, and LinkedIn. Every day professionals and Silicon Valley startups have utilized her diverse skills and insights into the job market, LinkedIn marketing, and professional branding. With a Master’s in Library and Information Science, she combines a research and instruction skillset with practical experience gained through organizing events like the TRANS*FORM Employment Expo, hosting the Career Kickstart podcast, and writing the Job Prep curriculum for Europe’s #1 tech boot camp. She has trained job seekers, freelancers, and companies on how to use LinkedIn at international conferences and speaking engagements in Lisbon, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Medellin.