by Clark Newell
February 23rd 2018
TLDR: I do want to be that "Xennial" who is successful in tech and can inspire and mentor others as they too dare to leave unsatisfying or dead-end careers behind.
Hello World! Clark here, and when it comes to the tech industry and web development, I am pretty much a “noob.” I’m officially middle-aged and technically over the proverbial hill but I don’t feel it at all. I also identify as a gay, cisgender man. Just ten very short weeks ago, I started a six-month web development immersive or “bootcamp” program at Galvanize in Denver, CO.
I’ll fully admit that the decision to join a full-time bootcamp feels “risky” and is a significant financial sacrifice that you end up having to justify to yourself, your friends, and your family. The tuition is steep, and factor in that if you want to excel, you probably won’t try to work at the same time, then the total price tag starts to inflate quickly.
“Friends and family who have found huge success through a more conventional educational paradigm come across as very skeptical of this new non-traditional model.”
Factor in my age, my sexual-orientation, and my relative lack of former technical experience and the risk seems to increase with every input. Friends and family who have found huge success through a more conventional educational paradigm come across as very skeptical of this new non-traditional model that seems to be popping up everywhere.
I still have 14 weeks left at Galvanize, and at the moment, my biggest concern is not my sexual orientation, nor is my race. Instead, I am concerned that my age could get in my way of getting hired. I am very curious to find out how things turn out six months or one year from now. Will I have experienced any discrimination due to my age or sexual orientation at all? Stay tuned to this program already in progress. I hope <div>ersity will invite me to report back. Meanwhile, I remain optimistic….
I remain optimistic that I can learn and can gain the skills necessary to be not just employed but eventually hugely successful in technology over time. Ten weeks in, I am glad to report that I still feel very confident I have absolutely made the right decision.
One thing that I want to chronicle is how I learned these skills as a middle-aged person, and eventually blog on what it took to master them, and what it took to get a tech job at my age. Furthermore, I would like to document this journey as encouragement (and hopefully not a warning) for others in the same position, because I know there are many others like me.
“A “xennial” is someone who had an analog childhood but fully embraces a digital adulthood with the optimism of a “millenial.”
Do I fear Imposter syndrome? Yes. Does it feel like I may have to work twice as hard to prove I’m just as cool and capable? Yes, it does feel that way and given my lack of experience the truth is I will have to work hard to get going in the industry. I think a lot of it’s in my hands at this point. At the end of the day I believe it all depends on my skills, my portfolio and my network.
I do want to become that “over the hill” xennial who is successful in tech and can inspire and mentor others as they too dare to leave unsatisfying or dead-end careers behind.
Writer’s note: as of January 18, 2020, I have since graduated from Galvanize-Denver and returned back to Utah where I completed an 11-month internship for a local software company. In retrospect my fears were not justified, and my intuition about hard-work were correct. At the end of the day I do not believe that age or sexual orientation are standing in the way of my success whether here in Utah (where let’s face it, has a reputation for ultra conservatism) or beyond. My challenges are definitely with level of experience and amount of time on the job.
Because the “full-stack” internship was constantly throwing new languages and concepts at me, I have not yet been able to master any one facet of software development. The upside is that I definitely have become a “jack of all trades” and did get exposure to many aspects of software development as well as general problem solving.