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maccat
02-07-2009, 07:17 PM
Hi, I'm a finance grad student and I'm not young (>30 yrs old). I've never learnt any programming before, but during the coursework I did I had to use some statistical software. I then found out that I was attracted so much to programming and so I bought a couple of C books to learn from them (K&R2, Beginning C, etc.). I visited quite many forums including this and I've read threads about programming and programmers. One thing I notice is that so many programmers who are helping newbies and intermediate-level programmers and others are very young and have learnt programming since they were like 12 years old or so.

So my question is, am I too late to learn programming so that I can in fact use programming skills effectively in my future jobs? I'd like to learn C++ as it's applied extensively to finance/business. I like programming a lot the instant I read an extremely simple code from a statistical software I used. I spent time everyday reading books and typing in examples and doing exercises. I just would like to become not a programmer (b/c it's too unrealistic for a person at this age like me), but a person who has a basic knowledge/working knowledge of C and C++.

Is that too late? Are there people with similar experience who can later on become a true programmer?

Thanks a lot for your time and patience.

Daved
02-07-2009, 07:34 PM
It is definitely not too late.

It is not too late to be a person who has a working knowledge of the two languages, and it is also not too late to learn to be a professional programmer. I'm not even sure why you'd think that.

You don't need a long history of programming in order to get it. Just start. If you're having trouble, that's normal, it's not because of your age.

I started programming in college and a couple years later was doing it as a career. Not everybody starts off in front of a computer at a young age. I don't think that experience matters much in the long run.

Yarin
02-07-2009, 07:46 PM
I guess I truly couldn't say as I started at 13. But the only hard part of learning to program is the inital comprehension, so one could look at it this way, if a 12-21 year old can figure it out, why not a 30+ year old? I really do think that so long as you don't have the mindset of "this is too overwhelming for me", age is very irrelevant.

happyclown
02-07-2009, 08:32 PM
I started learning C about 2.5 months ago, and I am > 30. :)

maccat
02-08-2009, 12:11 AM
Thank you all. I feel much more encouraged and gain more confidence...

vart
02-08-2009, 12:49 AM
I have a freind who has taaken a one year programming course when he was 28
Now he is already 8 years working in the same firm, programming in C and is advanced to the system architect of the project

Before it he was construction worker, so I doubt he had too much expirience with computers

(Of course I know samples that apply to other areas as well, when person leaves programming to start working as a nurse for example because this area has more appeal... but it is unrelevant for the question :) )

abachler
02-08-2009, 12:11 PM
Your age shouldn't be much of an issue. Just like athletics, its never too late to start. You probably won't be competing at the olympic level, but not many people do anyway. Not learning to program for that reason would be like not running for mayor because you could never be president.

That said, there are some things that your age will be an issue with. It's true that the best programmers tend to be people that learned to program before they were 12. Specifically before they entered puberty. The mind is much more pliable at that age so the highly abstract thought processes involved in programming are more easily learned. Not learning it at that age isn't really a disadvantage, more like a lack of an advantage that other people have. Just because the top programmers tend to have started at an early age doesn't necessarily mean its a requirement. It's mostly about experience. Programmers that are in their 30's that started when they were 12 have a couple decades of experience, that a full career before they are even 35. By time they retire they will have nearly 60 years of experience. Another factor is that programming, unlike other professions can be done just abotu anywhere. People that start when they are young generalyl tend to do it because its fun, so they program in their non-work time too, which just builds even more experience. Also unlike other jobs, programming is an entirely intellectual persuit. It doesn't require good looks, or a personality, or much in the way of physical abilities, other than being able to write code. Those can be assetts in acquiring a job, as always, but strictly speaking they arent necessary for the actual programming.

It's also one of the few professions that a 12 year old can start practicing and where beign self taught is considered an asset, rather than a liability. Just try to get a job as an MD being self taught, even if you can pass the medical board.

dotunix
02-08-2009, 03:58 PM
No it's not to late.
Pepole attend collages in theirs 40s and 50s....so...it's important how you approach the programming.
"I wanna learn programming so I can get a job and make a loads of money"
-OR-
"I wanna learn programming because I want to know how things really work and I want to improve software if possible"....so more scientific approach.

You can learn any language syntax very fast. It takes some times to figure how different languages relate to each other(pros&cons, differences...), same thing for the tools....APIs are always the things which you learn on the way from some book or documentation.

Good luck mate!

BobMcGee123
02-09-2009, 10:52 PM
I personally tire of the people that claim how they learned how to program before they hit puberty. We get it.

Realistically if you throw yourself into it, with a disciplined spirit, you'll learn faster than any other intimidating 12 year old (even if they are Japanese).

audinue
02-10-2009, 11:17 AM
I hope you have a lot of motivation here, since old people (that I know) has something called "safe-zone" or "safety" that slow down or prohibit yourself to learn.


I just would like to become not a programmer (b/c it's too unrealistic for a person at this age like me), but a person who has a basic knowledge/working knowledge of C and C++.That's impossible, once you swim into the sea, then you'll dive into the deep. Programming is addicting and complex, when you learn something new, even a small part of it, you'll need (or to be forced) to learn yet another things related to your current knowledge. As a matter of time and your learning speed, you'll be an expert just in time.

Elysia
02-10-2009, 02:24 PM
An export just in time? I doubt it.
Programming languages can take years to get familiar with.
Even more to become a professional.
And even more years if you want to become an expert, if ever. For complex languages such as C/C++, becoming an expert is very tough.

But as they say...

So my question is, am I too late to learn programming so that I can in fact use programming skills effectively in my future jobs?
Never! ;)

maxorator
02-10-2009, 02:32 PM
An export just in time? I doubt it.
Programming languages can take years to get familiar with.
Even more to become a professional.
And even more years if you want to become an expert, if ever. For complex languages such as C/C++, becoming an expert is very though.

But as they say...

Never! ;)
You cannot become an expert in a programming language. You can only become an expert at general programming logic. ;)

sean
02-10-2009, 02:35 PM
You cannot become an expert in a programming language

There's this guy at work that I swear has the API memorized. He knows these tiny details of the syntax that no one takes advantage of or even cares about. He's an expert at the language, regardless of his logical abilities.

maxorator
02-10-2009, 02:47 PM
Well, let's correct it - it's more important to be an expert at programming logic than at a programming language.

kermit
02-10-2009, 03:21 PM
Well, let's correct it - it's more important to be an expert at programming logic than at a programming language.

It seems to me that good programming practice is helpful too - perhaps of equal importance? From my own experience in the industry I work in, there is a large gap between experienced workers, and trainees. It takes a long time to learn 'best practices' - these often come by learning from mistakes - 'I won't do that again!' But much help is to be found in watching and learning from fully experienced workers.

Now being a relatively inexperienced programmer, and drawing from what I know in my profession about neophytes to the trade, when I am coding, I often wish that I could have an experienced coder to draw from, regarding best practices. What sorts of things are bound to lead to trouble? What sorts of things are most helpful? What helps make code easier to understand? Sure, we have probably all read the 'Traps and pitfalls' kind of stuff, and we know the elementary stuff, like, 'If you are writing it more than once, turn it into a function.' But what happens when you get conflicting ideas, or maybe not conflicting, but ones that clash? For example, consider the axiom, 'A function (ideally) should do one thing, and do it well.' This fits with the notion of letting the caller deal with errors, and not the called function. But what if the 'dealing with errors' gets really sticky? What then? I am not saying it is impossible, but I do think that being able to see what professionals do, and how they do it, and why, is extremely useful. Long story short, to me, good programming practice, as the professionals do it in their work seems to be invaluable; I can see from my own limited experience of 'making mistakes' that knowing best practice undoubtedly saves a lot of time and effort.

matsp
02-10-2009, 03:22 PM
Well, let's correct it - it's more important to be an expert at programming logic than at a programming language.

Yes, but the truly GOOD are good at both. But yes, logic to solve the problem is more important than knowing the order of precedence of & and =. Or knowing what happens if you use %i instead of %d on scanf.

--
Mats

MikeyIckey
02-11-2009, 01:10 AM
Hi, I'm a finance grad student and I'm not young (>30 yrs old).

I hope not, otherwise I'm screwed too!

...but during the coursework I did I had to use some statistical software. I then found out that I was attracted so much to programming and so I bought a couple of C books

Addictive, huh?!

One thing I notice is that so many programmers who are helping newbies and intermediate-level programmers and others are very young and have learnt programming since they were like 12 years old or so.

You build up knowledge quickly, it seems. And most people aren't just speaking from theoretical knowledge but from actual experience, I've found.


So my question is, am I too late to learn programming so that I can in fact use programming skills effectively in my future jobs? ...

Never!

Even if it's just for fun you can learn as much as you want. Any secondary skills are always beneficial in business.

Good luck and have fun.

DarkLord
02-17-2009, 08:49 AM
I don't believe the goal of working in the computing industry as a programmer is unrealistic at the age of 30+, if you enjoy programming you will learn quickly.

It's important to determine what part of the industry you want to be involved in - which you have done, due to the fact you want to stay within the finance sector it won't take you too long to become a proficient coder.

Try not to become overwhelmed with the notion of being 'too old' as your bound to fail with this mind set, so keep working through your books, reading and discussing within the forums and your be coding before you know it and your think to yourself, 'what was all the fuss about?'

btw, I'm 30, and do not consider myself to be 'old', chronologically I'm 30, but physically I feel 20 years 'young' :)

oh yes, I have also made the decision to learn Assembly and C :)