MSc Computer Science @ 35! Is it too late?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by lympero, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. lympero macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2008
    Arta, Greece
    I have a BSc in Music Technology two music diplomas (harmony,counterpoint) and I'm working for like 50 hours per week in 2 major recording studios here in Greece. However I always wanted to study CS. ITunesU gave me the opportunity to start some online courses (cs106A,B) and I really love reading java and c++ and coding!

    So I realized that this is my last chance to pursue my dream. I have been offered a place to study MSc Computer Science (online) at a UK university. My plan is to finish Master while working (2-3 years) and then seek a job in USA or Australia since in Greece there are not many jobs in that field.

    I'm 35, married and no children. My wife totally supports me. However I'm afraid that it's kinda too late already.

    What will be the chances for a 37/38 year old, with no working experience but really hard working and motivated to find a CS related job?

    Any input will be really welcome and helpful.

  2. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    Your actually pretty far from 'Last Chance' If you really like what you've learned so far, don't stop.

    As far as getting a job, it's really an issue of the current market. You can get on DICE, Monster or CL and keep an eye on what the job market wants so you can adjust your path as you go thru the process.
  3. gummycat macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2011
    Never too late

    First off, congratulations on following a dream!

    For starters, I have been programming for over 20 years professionally (C/C++, Java, C#, objective-c, etc.). I have spent 10+ years in the corporate world and another 10 as a partner in two start-up companies. I am also a musician (I play keyboards for my church's worship team), but not professional in any way there... lol. Oh, and I am in the US.

    Here's my take...

    If you truly love the field and are truly committed to following an ever-changing landscape of platforms, languages and paradigms... then go for it. It is NEVER too late. If this is something you are looking to do professionally, then I'll assume you have already proven to yourself that you have the aptitude. If not, then make sure of that first.

    University education is great for the theory, but you MUST have practical hands on experience to draw from. My best advice to getting experience without yet having a job in the field is to build a side project in your language of choice. Not some little sample project, but something you actually WANT to use that requires a decent amount of work. If the project is right-sized, it can fill that gap nicely until you get a chance to do something professionally full-time. I am sure you could think of something useful for your current field as an idea. Something web-based possibly, with a middle-tier and a database back-end would be a great experience builder. Pay for hosting (it's super cheap), build the app little by little over time. Blog the experience to detail the challenges and how you overcame them. Refactor something to make it better as you learn more - blog about that. This becomes a bit of a living resume. I also think you will learn more from this than from most university courses. You will be forced to learn more - and if you care about using the platform you are building, then you will learn even more because you will care about the end result. This would all be HUGE in an interview.

    You already have a degree, if you are a motivated and disciplined self-learner, then I would seriously consider this as an alternative to the university study. It could also compliment it, but it may not be practical to do it all AND still work full-time at your current job. Your poor wife would never see you (never neglect your role as spouse!!!!).

    I hire based on aptitude more than experience. I do not care where someone did what they did or if they got paid for it... I want to know they understood it, that they overcame challenges, that they knew the framework they used very well. You will NOT get this from university course work. A lot of people in the field are surface level programmers. They know how to use a framework (barely) to piece something functional together but they do not know how the framework works. They let too many aspects remain black box to them which reduces their value. You have to be the type of person who will dive "under the covers" when necessary. Too many that I interview are lazy in this regard. Don't be! Your ability to do that will make you stand apart from the rest.

    I'm 42 and I am constantly picking up new languages and platforms because I enjoy it. As an architect, I do not get as much hands-on coding time on the job as I feel you need to get to stay "in touch" so I always have something going on the side to give me that. I just picked up iOS development in the past year, built one side project and am working on another that I actually have someone interested in putting serious funding into. So, it is never too late. One of the great things about this field is that there is so much flexibility in the various opportunities you could get involved with.

    All the best to you. It is a great field and I can tell you first hand that it is difficult to find talented developers, so there is more than enough opportunity.

  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I laugh! I teach digital electronics courses in the evening to students with an average age in the mid 30's and have done so for over 20 years. They have no trouble getting jobs. CS students here have no trouble either. And this is for Bachelors degrees.

    The extra maturity of 30-somethings gives you an advantage over 20-somethings. Having job experience of any kind is a plus.
  5. whooleytoo macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    If you enjoy it, you'll find it easy to learn.

    The biggest problem with a mid-career change like this is that it often means leaving a mid-level position in one career for an entry-level career in another field, so you'd have to be willing to take a pay-cut for the immediate future.

    However, in IT the wages are generally pretty good, and the IT industry is booming. Even here in Ireland where the economy is struggling (you know that feeling), the IT industry is still very healthy and can't find sufficient staff. In the US & Australia it's likely even better so you should have no problems.

    As talmy said, your maturity should be a plus. In my experience, people who change career (by choice) are often much more focused and driven, as having been down a path they didn't care for, they push themselves harder to succeed in their new career path, and one that they enjoy.
  6. osxabsd macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2009
    Never stop learning! If you stop you die! :eek:

    There are lot's people who pursue PhDs after they retire, for example.

    An MSc in CS does not imply that your career will get better. You don't even need an MSc in CS to be successful. I am aware of alot of people with high school only (or even less) who are quite successful. I know of persons with degrees in other fields (microbiology) who are successful. What's the common factor? They learn all the time.
  7. softwareguy256 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2010
    Online degree has very little credibility, most people in a hiring position like me know that it is very easy to get in, the schools just want your money. I would strongly advise against this. It's a trap. I'll tell you the truth, at your age it is too late. That's life you either adapt or try to fight fundamental forces and lose. Just remember though when 1 door closes another one opens elsewhere. I suggest you keep looking.

  8. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604


    Nov 26, 2007
    I'm of the opinion that formal education is worthless in a position worth having. I've had ~12 interviews for a variety of programming and tech jobs over the last 2 or 3 months now. The only places that asked me about my formal education were banks - ie, the person giving the interview didn't actually know anything about programming themselves. Every other place I had interviews at, it was just a passing comment near the end like, "Oh, you go to that school... my wife went there too..." or something like that. At those places, the hiring managers asked questions about the challenges I had while working on my personal programming projects, not about what I had learned in school.

    So why am I getting a degree still? Eh, I don't want to deny myself any job opportunities that I might be able to get with the degree. The job I have right now is entry level, $12/hour. I've been told banks pay much higher wages, so if I ever need a higher paying job, I can get one if I get the degree.
  9. PhoenixMac macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2010
    While most people who go to college just to check a box to get a job, I've found that those who go to actually learn and master the material are the ones who succeed, even in down economies.
  10. nishioka macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    That's been my experience too. When I did finally decide to go to college at the ripe old age of 28, I went in for something other than computers. I figured, I already have the computer thing figured out, why not do something else instead.

    And now, pushing 32, with a diploma framed and hung up - I feel like it was a really rewarding (if not expensive) way to spend a few years.
  11. lympero thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2008
    Arta, Greece
    thanks all! especially gummycat. great feedback. i have to do a lot of thinking/planning. But for sure, ill keep studying and learning and maybe ill get rewarded someday.
  12. larswik macrumors 68000

    Sep 8, 2006
    Took my first CS courses in Pascal to start learning in a structured environment and I was 40. In a way I think it is better to be a little older. Some of the kids in the class struggled with the concepts but being a little older you are more dedicated to learning where kids are focused on party's, dating and school.
  13. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Just reviewed this thread (which I posted on earlier) and noticed that the degree is an online program. You didn't say what the university was. I do know that some programs are fine but there is a possibility the program is, well, bogus, and the degree worthless. Check out the university carefully.
  14. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010

    Make sure you do a bunch of research to make sure your degree will actually be valuable.
  15. lympero thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2008
    Arta, Greece
  16. joemod macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    Just do it. Also some additional notes:
    1) No one knows how the job market will be in 2-3 years time.
    2) Try getting involved in open source projects in order to get some experience to add in your cv. I know thoug that it is time consuming and difficult as I haven't managed it myself.

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