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Does Age Really Matter? 542

Posted by Cliff
from the it's-all-about-the-experience dept.
ageless asks: "At my current job, age seems to be a major factor when it comes to listening to what I have to say and believing that what I say is true. I've done so many different things, like filling bosses' requests to build an online app that does something complex in a short time, building and maintaining servers and security, and act as a consultant for authentication code and security on various platforms. Yet, none of them respect me because I'm still in school and because I'm young. It's very frustrating. Does anyone else see this as a problem? Does anyone else have this problem?" I think it all should boil down to experience, however many people mistakenly believe that experience is proportional to age. This belief is faulty, however, when you consider that tomorrow's computer professionals start gaining experience in their teens, not in their twenties or thirties.
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Does Age Really Matter?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    As an industrial psychologist (translation: HR guy; translation: Catbert), I've got a few observations you folks might find helpful:

    1) According to federal law, it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of age against people over 40. If your company fires its older workers because they're older, your company is asking for a lawsuit. (Many states have similar laws, and some states probably prohibit age discrimination below 40 as well, but I'd have to look them up). As far as federal law goes, if you're under 40, you're fair game - You can legally not be hired because you're too young (I know of VERY FEW companies that follow such a practice).

    2) However, discriminating against potential or current employees on any basis other than job qualifications is STUPID and IRRESPONSIBLE, ESPECIALLY TO YOUR SHAREHOLDERS. Your company SHOULD concentrate on getting and keeping the best possible people for each particular job, period. Your company SHOULD NOT make employment-related decisions based on age, race, religion, curly hair, shoe size, or any other non-job-related criterion, even if you can legally discriminate on that basis (e.g., sexual orientation is not yet a federally protected class).

    3) On average, older workers and younger workers are good at different things, but they rarely differ in intelligence per se, at least according to the scholarly literature in psychology. Older workers typically have more experience, and will do much better than younger workers at tasks related to their experience (e.g., an older C++ programmer will write better C++ code faster than his younger counterpart). Younger workers typically are much better at acquiring new skills quickly (e.g., a younger C++ programmer will pick up Java much faster than his older counterpart). Generally, it balances out in terms of job performance.

    4) As far as these comments go, take it under advisement that A) I'm not a lawyer, and B) Especially with advice, you get what you pay for. Don't blame me if you do something moronic!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I started developing software professional when I was 14 and didn't start getting the respect that I deserved until I was 19 or so and started acting like a huge prick. Mind you, you have to throw you attitude around with the knowledge to back it up, but people start taking notice that you know what you're talking about a lot more quickly when you're loud and obnoxious. Then, once you've made your point and the respect is there, you can lay off a little. I'm 28 now, I own a company, and I'm worth about 47 million. Go figure.

    thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have traditionally worked in environments where I was the youngest (ok that was 5 years ago). I find it's not really the age, but that young people with less business experience are not on the same page as their older counterparts, or managers. I used to think that I could show how technically able I am and that would earn me respect. However, it never did anything to help me gain a voice. Once I learned how to relate and effectively voice how my work would relate to the individual I was talking to, or the dept., or to the entire business I was viewed in a different light. Just my $0.02 Abdul
  • What, like the janitor?
  • There's another aspect to the "they think computer skills are all that matters" issue which is just as important as the other things you describe. The young writer "ageless" claims:

    I've done so many different things, like filling bosses' requests to build an online app that does something complex in a short time

    This is both wonderful and also sad: here's a person that knows how to do things but almost certainly doesn't know when not to do them. Caution, cynicism, wisdom and downright bloody-mindedness come with long-term experience, and a youngster with long-term experience is a rarity. Furthermore, young employees rarely have the guts and/or self-confidence to say 'NO' to requests from their employers, and that's the true test of being of value to society rather than being just a skilled techie.

    I know that's not the answer that "ageless" was seeking (everyone thinks that they're experienced enough to be respected), but here's one way of possibly understanding the problem. Look at someone even younger than yourself and ask yourself the question, "Why is he less wise than me?"
  • Second oldest, kid. I'm 39. :o) There are probably some folks in their sixties and even beyond who've been turned on to this site, I bet.
  • What they actually wanted was someone with 10 or more years of Java experience who was 22 years old and not a big drain on the company in terms of insurance, paid vacation, et cetera, but as dependent on their job as a 45 year old with 3 sick kids, willing to work 80 hours a week for less than a 16 year old gets for 20 hours a week at a burger joint. They want them smart enough to do the job and stupid enough to stay there at the same pay until such time as the company wants to kick 'em to the curb and pretend that they never existed or made any sort of contribution to the company.
  • "...(for professional reasons, I have my own girlfriend...)"

    I guess things *aren't* the same as when I was that age.

  • "...during a random moment they'd ask how old I was."

    Just tell them "old enough to have the knowledge, experience, and patience to solve your problem, and young enough to have the necessary stamina and enthusiasm".

  • But, when I was younger, my age was an issue of constant contest. It seemed everywhere I went I was restricted in what I could do. Opening a checking account? Sorry, under 18. Trying to sell an item on ebay? Sorry, ebay users must be over 18. Trying to buy something online? Sorry, we only take credit cards and you can't get one. I couldn't even manage my own stocks! And when I did get my driver's license, I had to have a paren't signature.

    The main reason for this is that minors are not able to enter into binding contracts. That is, they are not considered competent to understand that which they are agreeing to. So, if a store has a "No Returns" policy, and you buy something from them when you are under 18, they still have to take it back, because the law doesn't consider you able to make the purchase.

    For this reason, many businesses won't do business with minors, for liability reasons. The law protects minors from their own ignorance.

    This is not something that is easily solvable. "Oh, but I am compentent, so I should be allowed to make contracts." There is just no way to evaluate that in such a way that it can be encoded into law.

    BTW, IANAL. :)

    Jordan

  • Everyone regardless of age has to prove themselves. There is always someone who doesn't accept that you've put in your time.

    --locust

  • It's not about not being girly - it's about not reminding them that you are a girl. There is a definite distinction.

    I can wear a dress and have flowers in my office if I want to - but if I repeatedly say "you just don't trust me because i'm a girl" or "I can't do that because I'm on my period" then you are making them think about you as being a woman.

    Equality is all about de-emphasizing gender, not the opposite.

    -Alison
  • The idea of refactoring is that you change the implementation while the behaviour remains invariant. Refactoring works best when it is embraced as a philosophy from the word go -- refactorings are only supposed to impact small parts of the system. The invariance of that which is changed is easily verified by tests.

    A "refactoring" that requires what Fowler would call "shotgun surgery" lies outside the scope of "normal" refactoring, and should be approached cautiously (and the benefits should be weighed carefully against the consequences.)

  • I couldn't agree more. I worked as a consultant in Miami for a .com (yes, it's still in business). I was 19 years old at the time. At my interview, I was asked, "If you don't mind, how old are you?"... to which I replied "old enough". No more questions.

    There were a few akward moments. Like when some of the developers decided to go to a nearby comedy club one friday. Entry age was 21... I just opted out.

    I feel that I got respect from my fellow employees because they knew that I was good at what I did. I composed myself like an adult and acted accordingly. Fortunately, I look a little older than I am.

    A job should be based on your skills. Both technical and social. You might be the best programmer in the world at age 15, but if acti like a toddler, you won't get respect.

    -Andy
  • At my last job (aged 19-21), I was handy because I knew a lot and I knew how to track information down. I was also very vocal, and took for granted to consideration that I was a peer to my 30-50 year old coworkers.

    I was in a fairly small IT group at a University, about 80 employees. I worked six different assignments over two and a half years, for 6-7 dollars an hour, which was not bad considering the local economy.

    The problem was, the respect of my peers was not reciprocated. My brashness, my no-nonsense, apolitical, vocal approach to things brought serious concerns about my maturity level from my peers and supervisors. It didn't matter worth a lick that I did the job, and I did it well. I wasn't playing the "game".

    I learned a hard lesson when I checked my job references and found five of my six assignment supervisors gave me bad references, basically saying I was a smart-ass know-it-all who didn't know his place. I applied for three salaried jobs, and all turned me down, despite my resume qualifications. On a small campus, the references were easy to check. The problem was, they were right-- I was a smart-ass, and I really hadn't earned my place as their peer. It wasn't as easy as I had thought.

    I salvaged my sixth supervisor as a good reference, got a few letters of rec. from co-workers, and moved out of state to my hometown. I put on a suit, practiced calming myself down a little bit, and did some interviews. I took a job that I've now had for three years, with a large corporation, for a very good salary considering my lack of a college degree. I work on a project of about 20 people, and am by far the youngest of the group. I enjoy what I do still, but not because of the technology; because of my rapport with my teammates and manager.

    And I can honestly say that I think any one of them would give me a good reference if asked. They treat me (overtly and covertly, I find) with respect and with admiration-- again, not just because I do what I do and do it well, but because I present myself to them with a higher level of maturity than many "younger" employees.

    What did it take to get that respect? Two years of making big mistakes; then having the humilty to accept the fact that I did *NOT* know everything, shut up, listen more, and be patient. Make "playing the game" of understanding office politics, and where you stand in other peoples' minds, a foreground process. The change I made in my presentation is what has given me a successful career thus far.

    Maybe it will work for others too. YMMV. :)
  • At 29, I think I am the oldest slashdot reader.

    -josh
  • At 16, supervised tech support and did a part time programming job. Was told, "Shuttup and go play with your GI Joes" by one of my techs when I reprimanded him.

    At 17, I worked for NASA. Had to put up with it there but it was the best place for it.

    At 18, I worked for a genetics company. Only my boss had the knowledge of how old I was and I looked older. First time I was treated as equal.

    Now, I am 20 and when I speak I am heard because I proved myself. All you have to do is this:
    Prove yourself before letting those who don't need to know for you to get hired how old you are. After they know how good you are, your age becomes an assett instead of a liability.

  • I am 25 years old also, with 3 years of comp sci college and about 7 years of unix experience. close to 5 years of unix security. I am pulling down 80k a year as a sr unix admin. I am finding that companies are looking for people with real experience and some college background. I have turned down an IT management positon at 90k a year simply because I felt I didnt have enough life experience to be managing people 10-15 years old that I. Plus I like the tech stuff =) I have been treated like crap before, mostly because people were intimidated by what I knew. These people had been working with UNIX for 10-15 years but knew nothing about computer security, Apache, HTML, SMTP, TCP/IP, Perl,C etc.. They were dumb. The smart ones recognized my youth and understanding of newer technologies and wanted to learn from me. I learned from them more refined Solaris skills and they learned from me how to secure a server, setup a web server and start writing in HTML. I think it depends on what type of people you work with.
  • Kind of a no-brainer. Of course age doesn't necessarily indicate experience, but in the absense of other information, it's a reasonable heuristic for making a wild guess: the old stranger has seen more than the young stranger.

    If this guy has built stuff for his boss, though, then presumably they've interacted enough that the boss should know better. Of course, maybe the boss does know better, and maybe the boss is right too. ;-)


    ---
  • Dude,

    Enjoy your time. Seriously. But make sure that you do not spend too much effort glorifying the fact that you are so young and so capable as it can come back in life and get you. Also make sure that you keep your skills up and spend some time enjoying life because at some point you will be in your 30's or 40's and most prople around you will be equally capable regardless of how old you are.

    Lots of child prodigies experience some pretty profound depression when they hit their 20's or 30's with their first or second doctorate, and suddenly they are no longer unique because of their age. They are surrounded by folks at least as capable as they are and they now have to interact as equals with the "specialness" of youth no longer a factor.

    I can remember in 1981, after grade school (I was 11) I would go over to the medical school where my parents worked and my function was to be the go-to guy for all of the computer problems encompassing mostly the Apple IIs and TRS-80s, but I also got some pretty cool play time on a couple of high end Wang's and HP's where I often could figure out problems the "owners" of the machines could not. It was awesome as all of these MDs and PhDs would go looking for me all over the place, but mostly either in the medical student lounge (they had PacMan and a couple of pool tables) or my folks lab and ask for my help. My Help! That was pretty cool. I enrolled in all sorts of advanced programs for kids that were available in schools, took programming languages in the fifth grade, went through high-school, and college, and then got out into the work force. It was not that rewarding and kinda uncomfortable being the youngest around so I decided to teach, and boy did that suck. I was teaching people not that much younger than myself (which was weird in its own right) and the pay was awful. Perhaps if I could have made as much money as the guy managing the burger and fry joint (literally) it would have been better.

    So, I went back to school to get the doctorate and now I am surrounded by folks who are both younger and older than me and age simply does not matter. What matters is how good you are at solving problems, helping heal others and getting grants. Your ideas and how hard you work are the great equalizer and age simply does not factor in.

    To sum it up, revel in your time, work hard, play hard, love your friends and family, and respect others. It all evens out in the end.
  • We've all probably seen some level of age discrimination, or at least, known people didn't take us seriously because of our age. And I'd bet most of us will do the same to someone else sometime later in life, even if we don't realize it. When I'm working with 4 other admins, all late-20's, early 30's, and there's the 18 year old intern as well... I'm sorry, he might be brilliant, but we will probably instinctively take his ideas with a grain of salt. I'm not advocating that.. I'm just saying that's what invariably ends up happening at some point. And through my own growth in this field, I've realized that although I used to THINK I knew everything, I sure didn't... don't think that people spend a decade in this business and get stupider as they go...
  • In my experience, it has been younger employees who think they know it all, and older ones who have the wisdow to know that they don't.

    I may be a little jaded because I've just gone through the process of hiring some people, and I had to wade through a pile of resumes of kids who were just graduating from high-school asking for $100,000 salaries, 4 day work weeks, room in our rack to host their personal Linux machines, etc.

  • I was going to say it.

    Age does matter, I believe the saying goes "15 get's you 20.."

  • Maybe it's not your age. I thought I was pretty mature at 17. I look back now, 10 years later, and realize I had a lot of growing up left to do. Being respected at work (or anywhere) isn't _just_ about technical expertise, it's also about your personality, maturity, people-skills, and tons of other hard-to-measure qualities.

    BTW, when you get to college, take an English class. Keep your posting, reread it when you understand grammar a little better, and ask again why you were being treated differently.

    [Sorry, that was harsh.]
  • The reason for a lot of things having a limit of 18 has more to do with the law than anything - a minor (anyone under 18) cannot legally be bound by a contract.
  • We need qualified C++ programmers at our work. We couldn't give a stuff if they're black, pink, green, male, asexual, raving queens, chinese, swedish, whatever - we just need people who can program. No we don't have any female C++ programmers (except the one), but only because they're so damn hard to come by. Believe me if we knew of one we would hire her. We have one female programmer working for us but not doing C++ yet because shes still studying, so shes still learning. I know some female coders working for other companies, and they are no better or no worse than their male colleagues. Same with the female Comp Sci students I studied with. Not once in my 4 years at university did I see any of the female students being treated disrespectfully; most of them were fairly hard workers and did quite well. Naturally, there will be a few places where there is discrimination, but I'm prepared to bet that its a small minority of places, certainly not "alive and well", which implies that it is widespread. Of course, I don't live in Boston, I live in South Africa, maybe it is really widespread in america, but something tells me that its more likely you're exaggerating and/or your perception is distorted.

    And it was pretty clear to me that Annie's view of comp. sci men is (and was already) very low, and appears to be based on some cliched movie stereotypes. The majority of tech workers I know are not "dirty" and "ugly" and "dateless" and "unbathed" and all those other stereotypes Annie threw around - they're just regular people, most of them with quite a wide variety of hobbies and other activities that have nothing to do with computers. Sounds to me like Annie had made up her mind even before she started working where she is that male tech workers were like that. Her view does not correlate at all with my experience of the "real world", sorry, and I know a *lot* of comp scientists and engineers. Less than 10% of the male programmers working at my work are "dateless", none of them are "sociopathic" or "unfortunate looking", NONE of them treat women badly, and I think I'm the only one who might be "occasionally unbathed" (if that means skipping a shower on average one day every two months.) I don't think Annie's problem is with the people around her, I think its a perception problem.

  • I suspect it might be because when women are younger (say in school), IN GENERAL they're more interested in having fun and not in serious commitment, so they'll go out with guys who are "cool". Then when they hit their early twenties they start looking to settle down, so then it makes more sense to go for the more "boring" predictable guy who brings home a fat paycheck for financial stability. I could be talking a load of crap though. Its probably more something like: the "cool" school chicks who dated the cool guys at school end up married with children in their early twenties with one of the "cool" guys who turns out to be a real asshole who beats her and drinks away his anyway-pathetic paycheck (but they'll never leave him), while the girls who start dating later who are looking for stable guys are the girls that never dated at school, they're they nerdy chicks who did their homework every day and stayed home on friday nights. Just a couple of theories. Either way it'll still suck to be a clever male in school.


  • Despite this story's spiel to the contrary, experience is definitely proportional to age (well, given a linear offset).

    It's just that the constant of proportionality varies from person to person - you could call it "how fast you learn" which would be fairly accurate; the problems arise from applying the same constant to multiple people.

    Sure, there are 20-yo sysadmins out & about, I don't doubt it. I'm not that much older, myself. But I do look back to the days when I first read O'Reilly `Essential Unix System Administration' and had some admiration for the old beardies, not arrogance, nor a rebellious feeling that the world owed me one, but rather an "I want to do something like that" with mucho respect.

    First you have to experience what it's like to be unsubscribe@, webmaster@, root@, postmaster@, and to receive multitudinous "you wanker! you're going in ORBS, the DUL, the RBL, you asshole!" complaints, then you have the beginnings of experience. Then you get on with something constructive like building a VLAN between 4 sites, rolling firewalls, kernel and software updates across dozens of servers, and you're beginning to be in the right playground.
    ~Tim
    --
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • There's no body language, baby-faced teens or grizzled old veterans, no culture or fashion clashes - just code and design that works or doesn't.

    Having done projects both for a company in the real world and collaboratively online, I can safely say I far prefer the latter. No-one really gives a toss about how you look or smell or sound - just as long as you can contribute.

    If you can get that attitude to spill over into the office, you'll be much better off. Unfortunately we all still make the same old mistakes and judge books by their covers.

  • As a 25-year-old with no college education pulling down 62K/yr., I can tell you that age certainly DOES matter. I've been in the industry for 7 years, and am just NOW going to (community) college. Age counts for a LOT. I've been passed up for management positions, promotions, and raises all due to lack of experience. Never mind that I was clearly a better technician than my peers, as was evidenced by the "stats" they judged us on.

    It's a sad fact that Age=Experience in a lot of people's eyes. All I can say to try to help is keep studying/going to school, and work HARD. Eventually, you'll become old enough where they'll start to see your skills and not your DOB.

    Please, don't use this as an excuse to slack off though. That just gives others iny your age bracket a bad name as well. Just work hard, harder than the rest if you must, and eventually, you'll be respected.

    I should note that I've NEVER had a problem getting interviews or jobs. But once I'm IN a job, and my age comes out, it is hard to advance. Most of my pay increases have come from changing jobs until the last year or two.

  • It's not necessarily how young you are, but how young you seem.

    Get a good haircut, wear dockers and a good shirt, lose your sense of humor, never talk about cool music, and people will stop treating you like you're young.

    Is it worth it? Not really.

    Just focus on being professional and have confidence in your abilities (make sure you do have abilities though). Eventually, (around 23 to 25 in our industry), people will start respecting you.
  • Don't forget - when you're young it's easy to fool yourself into thinking you know more than you do and to overestimate your abilities.

    You're learning more things, faster than when you were in school, and you're all full of energy. So you may think you know it all, and you may indeed know lots of things, but when things get tough, your age may betray you. An older person, who may not have the same up-to-date information that you do, may bring some perspective to a situation, through related experience. In other words, it's hard to have breadth of knowledge when you're young.

  • I am the Network & Systems Manager at a moderately sized University. Even with that lengthy title I still get absolutely no respect from my supervisor or boss and little from a number of my peers. I'm also 21. I have more applicable experience under my belt than a number of people there, including the woman directly under the boss (who's one of the people I butt heads with the most often). I have more networking experience (especially designing, building, and maintaining) than my supervisor, boss, and most of my co-workers and yet every time I answer a networking question, my answer instantly gets questioned. It is the most unnerving thing I've ever had to deal with. They also love to set me up too. Someone will ask a question, curious about how some obscure thing works. If I can't answer it exactly perfectly, reciting from a textbook, that person (or an accomplish) will instantly shot me down as being wrong and not knowing anything and then they regurgitate something they memorized earlier. Granted that this University, and especially my department, have more politically screwed up issues than imaginable but still I get no respect. That president of the University even called for an investigation a for years back, and from what I've heard from people here during the investigation, nothing has really changed. They hired me based on my knowledge and extensive experience and yet they question everything I do or say (I don't have my Computer Engineering degree yet but I am not a student either). Obviously they don't think I know what I'm doing. If so than they should be questioning their own unanimous decision to hire me. That would require them to admit that they actually made a mistake. I admit that I am very bullheaded, but that's also something that all my past employers have praised. They praised that bullheadedness and stubbornness because that's what always made sure the job got done and was done right. I'm a perfectionist and if I do something, it will be done right and documented.

    During my 6 months there I've noticed that most of the people working there are sitting on their cans, drawing a paycheck. If someone asks them to do something, they'll do it but they won't suggest things themselves because they know it will come back to haunt them. People that haven't been there much longer than myself are still learning this and has been very useful for their insight. I don't like sitting on my duff though. That's not me.

    My age gets brought up very often as a reason for me not knowing what I'm doing and the person I'm talking knowing everything about what I'm doing. It feels very degrading. I can honestly say that I now know what minorities or women in the work force have to go through thanks to racism and sexism (not that I can compare to what some have gone through). This is ageism. Instead of being told I'm too old to learn something new or remember things from day to day I'm told I'm too young to understand how things work in the "real world" or "at this university". I can't even get keys to the wiring closets and cabinets to administer the devices I'm supposed to manage. I have to check out keys on an advance notice basis. I'm sure glad network outages can be predicted days in advance. I might as well be filling out carbon copy forms in triplicate (that will probably start next week). I'm really been tempted to respond to the next age-related remark in a meeting with a threat. A threat that simply states "if you make another age-based remark towards me, I'll haul your ass into court with a age discrimination suit". A threat, pure and simple. I have been _really_ tempted to do take that step. They may say something like "that's showing your age", which it may very well be, but it is a tempting step nonetheless. If anyone has any advice on this, I would personally love to hear it. E-mail me please. I've already had better job offers elsewhere. That bullheadedness steps in again and keeps me from quitting.

    A co-worker of mine reads /. (so he's not that bad of a guy obviously...). I wonder if this post will get back to the powers-that-make-my-working-life-hell... If it does, oh well. I'm ready for a good fight.

    --

  • Yes, people skills are usually built upon by years in the workforce. However that doesn't directly correlate to age. Say for example that I'm 21, a child prodigy, and have been doing computer tech support for years. Some middle-aged (40's) woman looking for a new job read "MCSE in 21 Days" or "MCSE For Idiots" and managed to get that cert. Before she did something totally unrelated, like exotic dancing or house painting. She's older than I am obviously. Does that mean she's a better people person than I am, especially in the tech support arena? No. Well, maybe her exotic dancing gave her a leg or two up in certain areas but that doesn't mean she has good people skills.

    Q: I'm having problems with my new computer.

    A: Tell me what you're wearing...

    Here's another thought for you. What if the job you're trying to gain respect in has no direct or immediate reflection on the business side of company you work for? What if you don't actually have to deal with the users?--someone else's phone rings when something breaks and they e-mail you. What then? For example, a netadmin in a institution large enough to have a dedicated tech support team that fields the calls. Sure he has to keep the network alive and secure and all that, but he doesn't have to have great people skills. CowboyNeal could do that. These two simple scenarios demonstrate that age is not directly correlated with skills or the respect you deserve.

    --

  • Belittled. I couldn't think of that word earlier. Everytime they hit me with another age-based remark I feel degraded and belittled.

    PS==> Don't look at my grammar. I was in a hurry over lunch. :)

    --

  • Just to reference what has been said a number of times already... age and experience does matter in multiple ways, in terms of overall knowledge, social skills, and cockiness. Age does not equal experience, but generally age does determine where you are on the pecking order anyway.

    That said: I think a lot of people are going the "young people aren't mature" route in answering the question, and that sucks a lot. (which should reveal my age right there... I'm 21)

    It's true that younger people are more likely to make mistakes in the business world that can be resolved by maturity. But I see two problems with dismissing younger people like that. First of all, younger people are doing just as much work as older people in the same jobs, and if anything, they need more attention, training, and understanding. The idea of older people saying "Hah, you don't know better, you're young, wait another 15 years to get respect" is immaturity on the part of older people. Second, if you hire or work with younger people, and you're going to make them feel disrespected, unappreciated, and powerless, then why the hell do you even bother? Just go about your prejudiced ways and work with or hire only older people, if you can help it; they're the only ones you'll ultimately get along with.

    Young people have the same problems with dealing with the older crowd, too. This is the reverse situation of something I've seen complained about a LOT on Slashdot before... that is, older people get no respect because younger people are more knowledgeable about newer technology, and the workplace strives to put them out to pasture. It's more of a problem that way, though, because younger people could actually use the maturity and experience of the older people in some situations, but at least as an example of how to act and develop in the workplace. If you have sufficently intelligent older, more experienced people around, then chances are you won't miss the young people.

    Age discrimination is terrible no matter what side it comes from. Respect and understanding go a long way in the workplace. EVERYONE could learn that lesson.
  • Close your tags...
  • Xerithane ,

    You may be 20, but you have 4 years of experience. Experience *does* matter.

    Even two years ago (I'm 32) I lacked the experience to be effective in the business world.

    Life is (too the extent that any metaphor is accurate) much like a calm sea. It looks simple, and as long as you only perceive the surface it is. As you experience more you realize that there is a lot of complexity hidden beneath the surface. There are currents and critters down there that can drastically alter any equation.

    With four years experience you now know that the "best" solution is often not the best for this situation. There are other forces at work.

    While I know that an OpenBSD is a better SMTP relay than Exchange I might recommend Exchange into a 100% NT shop. Sure Exchange sucks, but their admins know how to deal with it. Suggesting a *nix solution would make me look like an idiot to people who see the bigger picture.

    Young people tend to lack experience and therefore say things that label them, in the eyes of their superiors, as fools. From their limited viewpoint they may be correct, but they miss (or dismiss) facets that we have to take into effect.

    Of course there is always discrimination. A mediocre person will cling to whatever they attributes they posses to try to raise themselves above their superiors, both in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. Age, gender, race... All are factors that the mediocre can cling to in the face of brutal reality.

    But people in the 'victim class' are wrong to blame everything on prejudice. Often people are judged on who they are, not what they are.

    This is a complex topic and I seem to be rambling. I should get back to work. I just wanted to add the experience of a senior (in the business sense) techie who is constantly having to undo the work of people who are more skilled than I am but don't get basic business concepts.

    Dan
  • In many companies, if you don't already have a lot of experience, it takes seniority to really get management to respect you (or even consider you important at all). Remember that management usually has no clue about who does what (exactly) or who is more experienced or skilled that someone else. They cannot measure the skill level needed or used in a particular project, and usually rely on peer review and/or if your project works, and if it was on time. All that takes time to gain a reputation.

    So while your peers may know you're good, management won't. After all, do you know any (real) technical people who want to be in management?
  • Not with my employer; I've been lucky enough to have had employers that respected my abilities (and compensated me accordingly).

    But, when I was younger, my age was an issue of constant contest. It seemed everywhere I went I was restricted in what I could do. Opening a checking account? Sorry, under 18. Trying to sell an item on ebay? Sorry, ebay users must be over 18. Trying to buy something online? Sorry, we only take credit cards and you can't get one. I couldn't even manage my own stocks! And when I did get my driver's license, I had to have a paren't signature.

    I was fortunate to have had a parent who would assist me in these endeavours; My dad would let me use his card and I would reimburse him. But the feeling of having to check with someone else for simple purchases really felt like being a second-class citizen.

    I realize that the purpose behind these restrictions is the idea that the older one gets, the more mature one gets. But the assumption is flawed; It may be that as one gets older one gets more mature, but as a 14-year-old, I knew of many people in their 30s or 40s where were much more childish and less responsible than I.

    Age discrimination is illegal, but only if the discriminee is over 40. It's actually legal to descriminate between a 20-year-old and a 30-year-old, and in some cases it's required.

    Many people say that the reason we use age as a measure of maturity and responsibility (e.g. for finances, drinking, driving, fishing, etc.) is that there is no more readily availible tool. And although I feel the sentiment is correct it's not clear to me why no one seems to be making any effort to try.
  • by at0m (56249)
    This is why I find the Internet so wonderful. The anonymity means that you are judged by skill (which I hold more important than even experience), not by age, race, gender, etc. True, most jobs aren't conducted over the Internet so it's not a good solution to the problem in the workplace, but when a brilliant young person hides behind the Internet and is later exposed as a competent teen (or any minority), it should help to dispel stereotypes. In answer to your question, yes. I've experienced the same problem, though I haven't had much of the normal workplace environment. It's a problem, but it is getting better, at least in the world of technology.
  • Maybe it's cuz I'm in a particularly cynical mood today, but that whole ass thing just made me smile. Thanks. :-)


    "I'm not a bitch, I just play one on /."
  • I may be young, but I know how to post and not look like a jackass.

    momo.

    //Phizzy
  • Janitors also get keys to the building and to all the offices. That is not a sign of respect.

    From my experience working as an assistant janitor while in college, I can say that janitors have an amazing amount of power and they should be given the upmost respect. The same can be said for security gaurds and anyone else with keys to every door in the building. They may not be the ones who sign your paychecks or get you your next promotion, but there is a lot to be said for being friends with the right people when you need help.
    _____________

  • Well I can attest to being overlooked even though I'm almost twenty-four, but the people I have to convince are all around forty. I easily have more years of IT background then all of them combined. It all boils down to the "old boys club" that has been around for a long time. If you aren't an older guy with business experience you'll have trouble getting in and being listened to.
  • The people I work for have never been in the IT business before (except the sales manager) so I actually do have more technical experience then they all do.

    I do defer to them on most business matters though as I also know that is where I lack the experience. The problem is that both business and technical experience are necessary to make smart decisions and in too many cases they don't listen to me for the technical reasoning because I also don't have the business experience. It ends up with promises being made which make sense in a business case, but are technically unreasonable, or outright impossible with the resources I am given.
  • Is it age that matters?

    Having been exactly where the poser of the question stands, I sympathize with the frustration of not being listened to due to being too "young".

    From the perspective of where I sit now, I don't see it quite the same way. I think it is more a matter of a perceived difference in values and perspective which can be described as "age". If you want your boss to listen to you, listen to your boss. If your boss dresses nicely, dress nicely too. It really boils down to "marketing" yourself to your coworkers and employer. Let them know that what is important to them is important to you as well. Let them know that what is of value to them is of value to you as well.

    Also, facial hair does not hurt for the XY's out there.

    By doing the above, you are showing them that you are the "same" as they are, instead of being "different". When you are the "same", you give them an excuse to listen to you, instead of having your being "different" being an excuse for them to not listen.

    Just my two cents worth ;-)
  • And to look at this from another point of view, my brother just got his MCSE certifications, and was interviewing for a couple of jobs. In one tech support position, his supervisor would have been an older, more experienced, but snarly and un-user-friendly tech whose MCSE wasn't up to date.

    The HR people doing the hiring, pretty much told my brother that because his boss had essentially the same qualifications but was older and had more work experience, there'd be little room for advancement, even though my brother had a better "bed-side manner" for giving tech support. Plus, the HR people hinted that his boss would probably resent him for being younger and having similar credentials (other than the experience).

    I don't know if the HR people had some ulterior motive for presenting the situation this way, but perhaps they are trying to combat age-centric problems before they arise.
  • Given that the average Slashdot reader is about 16-25 and firmly convinced that they are God's Gift to Computing (tm), the vast majority of replies to this topic will be along the lines of, "Yeah, man. Like I'm all 1337 and stuff and they still don't listen to me! Bunch of stinkin' geezers. Life sucks!"

    I always give age at least a tiny benefit of the doubt, because I am just beginning to be old enough (mid 30's) to realize how stupid I was in my teens and 20's. Now, that benefit may fall rapidly once the individual in question speaks, but that is another issue. And anyone who has any decent amount of life experience knows that some things can only be learned over very long periods of time. Patience, judgement, wisdom, character are all functions of time. Admittedly, the time component varies among individuals, but it is still there.

    Oh and everything is relative. Given roughly equivalent technical skills, I will always listen to the more experienced (usually older) person when asking for things like judgement calls, especially in long-view matters like maintainability or supportability. Note all the assumptions in the previous sentence and you get what I mean...

  • I have noticed from my professional and personal experiences that there is no such thing as a meritocracy, or a situation where actual mental performance will be respected/promoted. All of my thoughtful friends have expressed the same experience.

    Sure, if you play basketball the best, you will be noticed. But I have never seen this in mental athletics. I've never had a boss who noticed that my code was bug-free and on-time. But I have had a boss who remembered my code was late when it wasn't! He also remembered his friend's code was on time when it wasn't. Hence, the beginning of a nespotism as it always was and always will be. (And this boss was my age.)

    I am now 33 years old and have also worked for people younger than me. I recieved the same treatment so it wasn't about being older. My conclusion is that older people "are respected more" because they tend to find ways to the top outside of merit, then reap the reward of being at the top. It's a shallow respect but get used to it. A younger person who gets there faster is no more inclinded to respect you because of his young age. It has nothing to do with age directly. Eventually you will gain promotions by changing companies or lucking out. Then you too can have false respect. (-:

  • As others have mentioned, age does matter. I'm still fairly young (32), but I understand that. It took me a long time to understand why.

    I started programming when I was 10, like many of you. I started working in the field when I was 19 and by the age of 20, I was even consulting.

    I'm a pretty good programmer and always have been. But business is something else altogether. I've had managers who are idiots and I've had managers who really knew their stuff. But one thing they all understood better than me was business.

    I've recently moved into management. I'm the director of development for a software company. I got there by watching my managers and learning what worked and what didn't. I learned the skills that made them good managers and stood by quietly as people who were older, and probably more mature than I, got promoted above me.

    While they were more mature and better at, say managing their time, and managing money, most didn't really understand how to manage people. That's was hard for me to understand when they were working for someone who did it so well. Surely they should have taken his/her as an example of how to manage.

    What it comes down to though, is that it takes time and it takes experience and it takes maturity before people start to respect you in the business world.

    I was lucky and took advantage of my skills early. I wrote articles in my field, I wrote a book in my field. I worked for some top notch people and I learned a lot. But in the end, it took maturity to get me where I am today.

    One person wrote: You'll understnad when you get older. It was moderated as funny, but it's actually pretty true. I look back on my early days as a programmer, and I WAS brash. I DID think I was smarter than my managers. I DID feel under-appreciated.

    That's life. Few people in school, or right out of school, really have the maturity to be respected when it comes to business. I don't mean that as an insult, it's simply a fact.

    I have one programmer right out of school working under me. She's really smart and she works her butt off. She has my respect for that, but when it comes to management and business decisions, I give more weight to the older people who have more experience. In fact, one guy working under me is a year or so older than me, and I have to admit, a good deal more mature than I am. I value his opinion on almost every aspect of what our company does. In fact, I will usually defer to his judgement rather than my initial decision because he has earned that respect.

    But that's just my opinion.

    Pete Davis

  • One of the things I've found in the course of my own life, and I can only speak for my own experiences, is that obtaining domain specific knowledge is only half the battle in gaining respect.

    Generally speaking, the most effective people I've encountered in any working environment are those who not only can tackle the technical aspects of the job at hand, but can also assess and deal with the human issues.

    For example, as a young lieutenant in the Army, I figured I was a pretty good leader. I was young, highly trained, and smart. But now that I've been out of the Army for a few years and working in the civilian world, I've come to realize that although I did know a lot and was highly skilled, my leadership abilities are still evolving and (hopefully) getting better.

    The same thing goes for my project management abilities and technical skills.

    I'm in my early 30s now, and I view experience differently than I used to. Sometimes what seems like thickheadedness is actually caution born of hard-won experience. I think it's human nature to become more cautious over the years, and that translates to a lack of willingness to trust less experienced folks with important projects.

    Mind you, that doesn't mean that younger people are necessarily less experienced. The human brain works by association, though, and youth is usually associated with lack of experience.

    Here's how I dealt with it when I was but a young lad. Whenever I was working with someone older and and potentially biased, I watched them for a bit to discern their communication habits and how they made decisions. Does this guy decide based on facts, or on emotion? Is she concerned primarily with cost, or with performance?

    Then I would buttress whatever arguments I was going to make with irrefutable facts. Find sources of information in the trade press, on Slashdot, wherever. Wherever possible, present three articles or bits of information to buttress your claims. Document everything!

    . Thoroughness is not ordinarily an attribute of youth (again, a generality, but one born of observation). When you're thorough, you are presenting yourself as a professional, not just a kid with an idea.

    As a matter of fact, that approach works well no matter how old you are.

  • Where I work we employ about 16 people, most of whom are under 21 years old. They are all computer techs of some kind. While we have no problem listening to what they have to say, and their work is fine, the one issue that we have observed is a distinct lack maturity, a sense of responsibility (to one's self as well as the business), and the wisdom that comes with real business experience. While the youthful energy is a great thing to have in our office, it gets frustrating at times having to deal with so many people who in so many ways haven't grown up yet (hell, they haven't even moved out of their parents' houses yet) and just don't know what the 'real world' is like, or how to operate in it effectively.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I think it sucks big time when the old folks don't listen to the young for no reason other than a prejudgement on the youth. But there may be good reasons sometimes to take what is said and analyze it without simply accepting it. I feel this should be done in a constructive way with constructive feedback given to the young individual, so growth and learning can be facilitated. I think that there are a lot of people though who would rather ignore or blow off the young opinions and thoughts instead of work with them and glean value from them. Unfortunate.

    I think the only way around it, for the young people, is to demonstrate that which is being said. Actions speak way louder than words, especially in business, where words are disposable and not trusted.

  • Homer: Let's see.... I'm a white male, aged 22 to 35 -- everyone listens to me.

    Or words similar. Somebody help me out please.
  • You know, when I was 27 or 28, I was a Squad Leader in the Army. I had some experience under my belt, and the "technical" knowledge to get in to that position in the first place...
    One of my subordinates was 38 years old, a little too old (physically) for the young man's game. BUT, he had a lot of military experience, and 10 more years than I of LIFE experience. I was fortunate (and wise) enough to understand that, and I sought his advice when I felt it necessary.
    I'm glad I treated him the way that I did...
    We both gained something from that.
  • It's not about age. It's about how many girls you've banged on your way up there.

    Which is why so many sysadmins get funny looks even from their parents.
  • This belief is faulty, however, when you consider that tomorrow's computer professionals start gaining experience in their teens, not in their twenties or thirties.

    Have you read fuckedcompany.com lately?

    Obviously not if you think tomorrow's computer "professionals" are in their teens. I suspect "teens" are the first ones laid off or the first ones to fuck their company. FC.com will attest to that.

    I mean, come on: a teenager is a teenager. And a whiny, snivelling 23 year old with 6 months of "professional" experience is still a whiny, snivelly 23 year old, experience or no.

    Don't fall into the "Hey, man, I'm 17 but I know whereof I speak." trap. You don't know whereof you speak if you're 17. It's just the facts. "Experience" is more than just on-the-job experience. It means maturity, awareness, and -- get this! -- wisdom.

    Wisdom don't come at age 18. Wisdom barely comes at age 28 or 38 or 48. Some are wiser than others. But just because you've compiled your kernel a few times and fielded tech support calls from a couple of disgruntled users doesn't make you "wise".

  • ... but you can't make him drink it.

    Those are wise words, which I didn't know when I was younger. In fact, when I'm trying to make a pitch for something or another (work related), and it's going nowhere, I often times say exactly that. In the long run, I think it helps build respect to have good intentions, but to back off when it's somebody else's (seemingly wrong) choice.

    The other thing I try to keep in mind (not always successfully), is the question: "is this decision something technical, where my input is an expert opinion?" Most decisions involve many factors, and the choice which is clearly superior in a technical sense often times has non-technical (sometimes political) drawbacks that are of overriding importance compared to the relative difference between the technical factors. It's easy to lose sight of non-technical factors in a decision, regardless of one's age. I do it all the time, though I think I'm getting a bit better as I'm getting older.

  • The consistent mistake that I see young people making is that refusal to let go of idealism.

    Idealism plays an important, but limited, role in a production computing environment, and the wisdom given by experience is knowing where to draw the lines. In this Internet age, uptime is king. Slowness is bearable for brief periods, but "Cannot find server or DNS Error" is not. Young people don't always understand that if uptime requires them to stand on a rickety ladder holding in a Cat5 whose plastic retainer clip popped off, then that's what they've got to do.

    Older people realize that they need to tie the young guys to the ladder to accomplish that.

    -Nev
  • One of my favorite stories a few years ago (about 4 years after Java enters the marketspace), classified ad reads, "Wanted: Software Engineer with 10 years Java experience." I may be over sensitive, but that wasn't really a request for experience it was a request for an applicant that was at least 30 years old.

    I've found, particularly on the East Coast, many ads are structured like this: X years of post-college work == applicant that is at least 22 + X years old. In the few interviews I've taken part in out here, there have been very little attempt to actually judge technical proficiency (through technical questions, quizes, or whatever where a younger person might actually prove their skills with only X - 2 years of experience). Age and the presence/absence of a degree seems to be the only determining factors out here.

    I'm getting past the age where this affects me personally, but I still remember how frustrating it was trying to just get a foot in the door.

  • I think Salon just ran a piece where they were saying that 30 year old CEO's were out, and VC's are looking for a CEO's with grey hair.

    Of course, that could just be spin coming from the 30 year old CEO's of the 90's, who now have grey hair.

  • I'd wager a guess that most of us who read Slashdot have experienced this at some point in our lives. I experienced it at my first few jobs. I distinctly remember one of the employees who had a major problem with suggestions I made for improving our tech support desk because a) I was young, and b) I was a summer intern. I think he also felt a bit threatened since I knew more about the systems we were supporting than he did, and he'd been there 5 years. I was lucky, though, since my boss had no such hang-ups and loved the work I did.

    I think it has alot to do with fear. They (ie older folks at work) see people 1/2 their age who know alot more about modern systems and programming than they do. Granted, some young folks have this ridiculous ego that can also get them into trouble.

    Of course some of them want to say: "Respect your elders." I say: HAH. Respect ability, respect experience, respect knowledge... but respect age?!? NEVER!

  • The peach-fuzz wet-behind-the-ears slashdot children start moaning about how old they are. ghods, let me just find my coffin.

    Ugh. I'm sorry. You must be in at least your late 30s.


  • This belief is faulty, however, when you consider that tomorrow's computer professionals start gaining experience in their teens, not in their twenties or thirties.

    You know, the posting discusses this like it's a new thing.

    I was born March 23, 1974. I got my first computer - a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A for my birthday, March 23, 1984.

    I was programming in assembly language by the time I got a used PEB and disk controller for the system on March 23, 1986.

    And, within a couple of months of when I got a modem with birthday money on March 23, 1988, I was on ARPANET through a local university's agreement with my computer user's group.

    Yup, I was on the 'Net 5 years before Yahoo.

    I remember looking, with scorn and derision, as CPU chips began to sport first heatsinks and then cooling fans, then a grudging admiration for what they could do despite being saddled down with DOS 5.0, while my aging TI basically served as a dumb terminal to Sun box on the other end of a 1200 baud modem, as the first versions of Mosaic came out and my e-mail address gained a new and bizarre form. Dot-eee-dee-yew? Dot-com? Dot-net?

    And I'm only 26.

    [grinning wanly] If only I'd been smart enough to see the economic potential of it back then.

    Heh. Not that it would have mattered. It would have been pretty tough to build any sort of presence with a TI-99/4A and an advertising budget derived from paper route.

    Almost 17 years. Heh. I still have that TI-99/4A. And, though it's been a couple of years since I last fired it up, I'm pretty sure that I could still play a good game of Parsec on it. Or dial up a BBS. Or log into a shell on my Linux box.

    Has it really been that long?

  • Quit fuckin' whinin'.... Life sucks, you can't become president until you're 35 and noone is going to take you serious because you're a whiny, snot-nosed kid that thinks the world owes him something. Fact is, you don't know anything about life so here's a tip..... there's gonna be a lot of things comin' down the pike in your, as-yet-short life, that are gonna suck worse... deal with it
  • Despite my own age, I agree with you on the matter of experience coming with age. However, the point at which I disagree is that the rate at which you gain experience with age is directly related to your intelligence. A 40 yrs. experienced programmer does not necessarily have a higher skill level or ability than a 16 year old. This also has its roots in actual human development: it's statistically sound to state that those in their teens and even pre-teens can learn faster, and apply that knowledge which they gain quicker and more efficiently than an experienced 40 year old. So, simply claiming that older people are more experienced than younger people is not true anymore, now that information is more readily accessible, those who learn faster, know more, and are more experienced. Intelligence is as important as age when determining experience.

    I guess the question is: what really IS experience? Perhaps we're not using the right terminology... "knowledge and ability" would be more accurate?

    Once you reach a certain point, intelligence can not be replaced by motivation, this is our plague. Some people will envy you, some with try to harm you, some will ignore you, and others...they'll honor, revere, and respect you as their true superior and god...those are the ones you want to stay away from. =P I'm 16, and have been programming (professionally, I suppose) for 4 years and learning for 9 years. In fact, I'm always learning. When someone tells me something I don't know, I don't start loathing them because they're "better" than me...I respect their ability. If only we could all just hold hands and live in peace.

    Oh well, life sucks and then ya' die. (EAT THAT, W.A.V.E!) hehehe

    Your Queer Qualinesti Elven Mage,
    treker

    PS: Sorry about the topic drift, if there was much of such activity.
  • the technical competence is not in question, what's being questioned is the maturity involved in a technical decision.

    "Let's switch to *BSD servers tomorrow!" might be a great decision technology-wise, but the guy who's been around the block more knows to ask other questions, like "OK, that being the case, if Mike gets hit by a truck tomorrow, how fast can we get another FreeBSD guy vs another Microsoft NT admin? How do we figure out whether a consultant claiming to know FreeBSD actually has a clue? There's no certification path, there's no paper to back this up, nothing. How much is it going to cost with respect to TCO rather than just the cost of buying the software?"

    I learned eventually that sometimes the value of a statement isn't made just on its TECHNICAL merits alone.
  • RE: The same way you find out if an NT consultant or Cisco consultant has a clue. INTERVIEW them.

    And if I don't know Cisco and/or NT? At least with NT I have Microsoft's assurance the person knows their stuff.

    RE: I think hordes of paper MCSE's have proven that having a certification is not the same as knowing what you're doing.

    Agreed. But it's better than a complete unknown, in terms of corporatethink.
  • Nice catch on the facial hair thing - I thought for a few seconds how to make the comment gender neutral, but with no success. My grandmother's facial hair makes her look a bit older, though...

    A big component is self marketing, but you have to listen to your market first. Look at those SuperBowl ads, where you can judge pretty quickly which companies spent too much on advertising and not enough on market research.

    In my experience, the younger crowd is too prone to believing in an idealist One Right Way. This is mainly from those that come from a strong community background (Linux users), or are just out of school (having been taught the One Right Way). They often don't understand or appreciate the compromises of business.

    Of course, as you get older, you stick with what worked in the past, and often believe in a conservative One Right Way. It is the interaction of new ideas with old, with mutual respect, that generates progress. Respect often follows from understanding, which follows from humility and learning.

  • Age doesn't matter at all, if no one you work with knows your age.

    It's inappropriate to even ask in a business situation, and if someone does, just smile and change the subject.

    If you're being treated as inferior because of your lack of experience, or immature behavior, that's something entirely different. But age, well, I know enough people who are 30 and look 18, or have grey hair at 21, to not even try to assume.

  • I've found that I rarely have this problem when I'm working in technical environments with other technically astute people. After a few weeks where they sort of feel you out and you prove that you're not a moron, they'll pretty much be willing to hear you out (although they'll still slag you down if there's room for disagreement--nerds can be harsh). And of course, the more technical accomplishments you show them, the higher you rise in their esteem over time.

    But in a non-technical environment, I think it's very much the case of people equating age with experience. For example, right now I'm in a contract-to-hire position for an MIS Manager slot at a mid-sized real estate development company. Originally, they were planning on just hiring the position perm and full-time, but apparently they were a little nervous about me. I've only been here a couple of weeks, but already I've cleaned a lot of things up, improved performance and stability, and generally made life easier for the staff. But I'm not at all sure that they'll offer me the perm position, because I get the impression that they're looking for someone a little older who wears a tie. The pay is awesome and the job is interesting enough, but I find myself uncomfortable with the lack of emphasis on performance as a measuring stick. I'm coming out of dot-coms where you're pretty much taken for whoever you are as long as you can get the job done and I don't have much patience for the extraneous BS of corporate life. My normal reaction would be to say, screw 'em, and move on--but it's not so easy when $$$$ start popping up.

    So I have some idea of where you're at. I guess that you (and I) have a couple of options. Here's what I'm planning on doing:

    --Emphasize past performance that has been to the benefit of the company. If you've done things that have improved their bottom line, point them out and speak up. They're more likely to value your opinion if you have provided measurable value to the company.

    --Point out that IT is not like accounting. This field evolves so rapidly that all any of us really have is a couple of years of experience. Sure, the rest is something to build on, and I wouldn't trade it in, but most of the technologies I work with day to day have only existed for a few years--remember the ads for Java programmers with 10 years of experience a year after the language was invented? Traditional yardsticks don't mean much in this environment.

    --Let them hang themselves. Put things in writing. If you have an opinion that you stand behind that runs counter to what they think, put it in a memo and spread it around. If they ignore you and six months later pay for it, you and they both know that they should have listened to you. You don't have to rub their noses in it; just propose your own solution again--they'll get the message.

    --Write it up. Don't just expect someone to listen to you because you talk. Give 'em a paper with citations, arguments, and examples. People in traditional businesses love that shit.

    Good luck. If you give it a few months and it still doesn't work for you, look elsewhere; there are still places where what you think is more important than how you look.
  • There may be some truth to the notion that wisdom seems to increase with age, but age does NOT cause the increase in wisdom. Experiences do. Now, you may say how do you get experiences without age? Easy, life can cram them in sometimes. Personally, I've been through more in my life then most of my friends, and I have met people my age who make my own feeble experience seem all the smaller. Meanwhile, I have known people three times my age to have lived only half the life I have thus far. So really, age is only related to wisdom for those who do not actively seek wisdom out, and are content to merely let it happen.

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • I can imagine cases where it might matter, but it certainly doesn't have to. We have a couple of students interning here at my $orkplace, and they're eminently as capable and competent as many of the so-called professionals alongside them. Moreso in a few notable cases.

    I think, ultimately (barring, of course, the pathological case of outright prejudice), it comes down to whether or not you know WTF you're doing. If you do, and can demonstrate it, age matters not one whit. If you don't, trying to pass it off as ageism is a weak-assed copout, at best.

  • Seriously? I used to read the sports section, just so I could converse on a common topic with co-workers. Attend the 'after-work' get-togethers. Keep a list of birthdays, and use it to say 'Happy Birthday'. Dress somewhere between your co-workers and your boss (assuming bosses tend to have better fashion sense than us programmers.)

    Of course, don't fake things. Nothing worse than fake interest/concern. Tough balance to achieve, but recognizing that other people have other concerns (What? You don't care that AMD is using non-standard caching? ;), and those are valid too, no matter how stupid ;)

    A rec sports league is useful ... keeps you in shape, and co-workers tend to be less into playing politics in the field/arena/court. All of these take some conscious thought, but, then again, the subconscious cues that most people have is what we geeks tend to miss.

  • It also depends on your boss's attitude, and also to some extent on how you act outside of direct work behavior.

    I started in the suited, corporate world ... put up with the tie, glad for the $$$, and went nuts in my own way after hours. Also got spectacular reviews, saved the company bundles ... blah blah blah ... which saved my ass not at all when they downsized, and the axe decision was made by one of the 'older' types.

    Some people consider your personal life to be a reflection on their business. I consider that to be way over the line. But the comment about acting 10 years older than you are has worked for me. My programming skills have improved greatly, but, perhaps the most important point, at 16, most people don't have the social and political skills to thrive in the workplace. Computer geeks are notorious for poor interpersonal skills (while not applicable for all, it holds for many). Career advancement sorta requires those skills.

    Jumping tracks, last place I was at had a real problem. Programmers were (almost) all sub-25, fresh from the local community college ... and generally worse programmers than I could believe. Management were all 45+. The total lack of respect both ways was stunning, even more scary because of the problems it was causing - management suits avoiding anything resembling 'coding' because, as one put it, "...That's what we hire you monkeys for." Programmers learned it wasn't getting your code working, it was getting the minimum possible assigned to you, and then getting it done before the deadline. Respect? Absent. Completely f$cked project? You bet. Programmer turnover was obscene (30-40%). Management kept hiring young people (lower salary). I fit right in the middle, age wise, and felt way out of place in such a polarized environment

    The other bit of info missing is knowledge of the biz. Programming is all well and good, but it's rarely the whole job. Trying to understand some MBA who failed high school math is a learned skill. Trying to translate a specification written by an actuary into code changes is a learned skill.

    I'm envious if your position doesn't require anything but computer skills, but such positions are rare. And hey, picking up new skills is vital - make office socialization/politics one of them!

  • Sure, you deserve respect for your technical skills. But the unfortunate truth is that other factors are also important in the business world.

    Some important attributes simply require experience and maturity to develop, no matter how brilliant or skilled you may be. Like it or not, "soft" criteria such as good judgment and people skills are important elements of business success. And the respect you get at work will be based on all of you -- not just the technical bits.

    I'll admit that I'm an old fart (43) but I spent a long time being the youngest of my work peers. And, looking back, most of my progression has come not because my technical skills got better but because my soft skills did.

  • Don't like being the office teaboy? Don't like being sneered at and ribbed by your colleagues because of your youth? Well, you won't get a job in my company then. Consider it a rite of passage. That old saw about it 'making a Man of you' holds true today just as it did yesterday. The simple fact is that you have to do these crappy jobs, and put up with these slights, because they will make you far more understanding of your fellow man and able to deal with pressure when you mature.

    I have to wonder though. The pasty looking kids that are being reared in air conditioned homes and eating their Big Macs don't impress me. There seems to be an atmosphere of weakness and selfishness around todays slacker kids.

    I am one of Thatchers children, and in my day we were keen, fit and angry. We were out to change the world, not to get a good pension scheme. We took the difficulties leveled at us with spirit and character.

    Todays generation must do the same. I never thought ten years would make such a difference.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

  • I started working as a programmer at 16; I knew I was young and inexperienced and I was psyched to actually be getting PAID to program! I never had any problems with people listening to/respecting me because of my age, which might have been partly due to the fact that it was a small company. However, I did have major problems getting paid enough as I got more knowledge -- at 20, I was working 80 hours a week as one of two programmers on a huge upgrade to the company's primary product but still being paid less than the secretary.

    My eventual solution was to leave that job and move to a company that respected my experience (and by that point I was about the age of a young-ish college grad and the company I worked for was full of young people at all levels). My point is that I got tons of experience as a young 'un and that, while you may have to put up with some crap because of your age, you're getting huge amounts of knowledge about techie stuff and "real world" stuff like human interactions that many people who chose to just go to college will lack. And that will pay off in respect given to you by your co-workers.

  • My brother (27, I'm 24) got me this book for my last birthday after listening to me whine about the same problems over and over. It's The 48 Laws of Power [penguinputnam.com] - beautifully written and a bit like an O'Reilly book for politics (hmm... there's an idea - "Politics in a Nutshell" :)

    It seems to come down to this. You're almost certainly more up to date with technology, but you have to kiss ass, like it or not. A good starting point for me is to always make it a multiple choice, where one answer was blatantly cheaper, quicker, and more fun for me.

    Also, same as /. forces us to preview these posts, repeat in your head the thing you are about to say, just in case ;)

    Good luck!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:21AM (#449226)
    When you become seen as "too expensive" or "raising the groups health plan costs" or are married with kids and can't work 80 hours/week anymore. Then you get fired. Discriminiation works both ways.
  • by Toast (3221) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:30AM (#449227) Homepage
    Here at my company (sillicon-valley "startup"), age doesn't matter so much. I just turned 24 (one of the youngest engineers) and manage a group of 6 people, and control 2 of the more important projects inside the company. A co-worker, a 20 year old student at Stanford, is in charge of the user-interface for all of our products, and one needs her approval before anything can be put into the product.

    This kind of respect doesn't come for free. We both had to claw our way up from the bottom of the heap, but it's certainly possible, when in the presence of intelligent and non-biased management to be evaluated based on your actual capabilities.

    However, there is value in experience. Being so young, I still tend to de-value age and longevity, but I have noticed it makes a difference sometimes. Even though age doesn't seem to have much of a bearing on one's programming abilities, the longer you've worked in the industry, the less naive you become, and the better you can predict the future, which is key in the business world.

    When you're fresh from school, you tend to think that you can do huge amounts of work in a short time. Just because you can code 1000 lines of code a day, doesn't mean that a 10,000 line project will take 2 weeks (or even 2 months!) It's a sad but true fact that working in a business environment, and shipping product requires all sorts of nasty things like QA, documentation, maintainence, etc.. I used to look at statistics of the average engineer writing 10-20 lines of code a day as a sign that the world was populated by idiots. Now that I manage a group of engineers, I see exactly why that number is (roughly) correct. Coding really is the very last step in a 100-step process.

    Now, that having been said, I've also been in an environment where my manager was so biased towards age that I never got any respect, even though I was contributing much more than my elders on the team. I left that company (Oracle) for this startup for that very reason.

    In general, it comes down to who your manager is. Some people are open-minded about age, some people aren't. If you are such a hot-shot, go get another job (preferably for a small company) and find a manager who will trust you.

  • by Shotgun (30919) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @01:27PM (#449228)
    fairly new at the job and all hot and ready to go.

    The HEIC (head engineer in charge) told me to run the test program with a specific command line format. I was 2nd shift, and a little later, when he was gone, I decided that it would be more efficient if I used a different syntax that could be entered more quickly.

    My output went up and I felt 'oh-so-proud' of my ingenuity.

    Until the HEIC asked me where his debug files had gone the next day. The program was setup to generate the files when the command was entered the way he had specified. The customer wanted those files, and now he had to explain that they were not created.

    Was the program set up stupidly? Yes. Should the HEIC have informed me of why I needed to run the program in such a specific way? Maybe. It doesn't matter, though. It was my fault. I was told to do a job in a certain way, but being young and brash, I KNEW more than the old futz.

    It's not until you get older that you realize how much you don't know. You spend a lot of time feeling regretful about all the 'smart' moves you made while younger.

  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:11AM (#449229) Homepage
    I find this to be somewhat true. I think the biggest thing is the maturity level and HOW you bring up ideas/changes. If you document everything clearly and lay it all out you'll get a good response. Being younger I think you have to do more work then somebody older but I think that's because they come accross as having more experience.
    --
  • by Starbreeze (209787) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:11AM (#449230) Homepage
    Yeah, I've got the same problem. What's worse is I'm a girl, so regardless of my age, it's still been difficult to gain respect from my colleagues. I've only recently graduated so it's hard to be taken seriously, but I am slowly gaining respect. If your acheivements haven't showed them anything, maybe it's time to find a new job? Good luck buddy... ~star
  • by litui (231192) <litui@@@litui...net> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @11:02AM (#449231) Homepage Journal
    Hehe. I'm 19 years old and am the head/only IT guy in the firm. I've been given a great amount of respect, in fact 3 weeks or so after I started work, I got a building keycard and keys to all the doors in our office. My boss respects my opinion and skill, and in fact enjoys the fact that someone around here knows more than he does so he can work on running the business instead of dealing with picky technical details.

    I think it comes down to just being confident and proving you know what your doing with every action. From the moment I came in here, I told him plainly what I did and didn't know how to do and told him I was more than willing to learn the stuff I didn't know. I've made myself useful to the point where my company couldn't easily rid themselves of me. I've become a valuable asset.
  • by khyron664 (311649) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:12AM (#449232)
    It's been this way for a long time, and probably will continue to be this way in the future. No one likes to have someone younger than you show they're more knowledgable than you. You've spent a time in the work place and should know more about solving problems than some young kid. It won't matter what the ages involved are. It's the way society is. Best you can hope for is someone who isn't so egocentric. Khyron
  • by goten (36521) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:11AM (#449233) Homepage
    It seems to me that this boils down to how old your boss is. If the people that are in charge are young (under 30), it seems that even teeneagers get the respect they deserve. I've work with ancient bosses and younger ones, and I've definatly gotten more respect from the younger ones.
  • by tcd004 (134130) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:14AM (#449234) Homepage
    I'm 25, and I have a staggering amount of responsibilty in my job--as many 25 year old's do these days. However, I'm rarely taken seriously, and often downright ignored. It's insanely frustrating, but I also know that when I'm 40, I'll probably treat 25 year-olds the same way. Experience is the best teacher.

    Anyone who has gone from collge onto a job knows that in your first year at a good job you learn 10x what you did in college. We have interns in our office who range from age 16 through 23. It's amazing to see the differnt levels in professional maturity, as well as know-how that come with age. Age discrimination sucks. I absolutely hate to be ignored, especially when I know I'm right, but it comes with the territory.

    If you want to escape it, find a company where the average age is as close to your own as possible.

    tcd004 The Pentium 4 Revealed! [lostbrain.com]

  • by q000921 (235076) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:51AM (#449235)
    There are different kinds of experience. There is the experience of building a big, complex software system. And there is the experience of seeing it evolve over years, finding new uses, having bugs fixed in it, having the vendor drop support for tools used for building it, having different development organizations take it over, etc.

    You can get the first kind of experience by working really hard. But to have first hand experience of how a software system you built evolves over ten years in the real world, you have to be there for ten years.

    There are other kinds of experience that are difficult to accomplish simply through effort alone. The long-term coming and going of corporate strategies, new languages, platforms, etc. is hard to understand even if you were to become a computer historian.

    Sometimes that kind of long-term experience doesn't help, sometimes it even gets in the way, and sometimes, it's vitally important. I suspect that when people don't listen to you, it's in areas where they consider that kind of experience important.

  • Well, hello from the other end of the age spectrum. I have been working in information technologies for over twenty years, most of that time as the sole female in groups of sociopathic, dateless, unfortunate-looking and occasionally un-bathed men. Yes, many of them were pigs (in the tradition of what we've been treated to here in response to your post) and if you forget about it for too long, they'll find a way to remind you. Fortunately, as in other fields of endeavor, there are also nice people around. Seek them out.

    If you want to be successful in your chosen field, you'll have to work twice as hard as all of these anonymous cowards and bitter old men, and be twice as intelligent. Fortunately this is not difficult, and you'll probably succeed admirably.

    Cheers,
    Annie

  • by rho (6063) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @11:10AM (#449237) Homepage Journal

    Remember, there's Age (a chronological measurement), there's Experience (a measure of time spent at at task), and there's Life (no proper metric exists).

    Experience is sometimes more than "I've set up sendmail a jillion times!" Sometimes, it's more like "Our CFO hates sendmail. Rather than argue with him over the nits, I'll just install qmail."

    Life is a great teacher, and life experience is very valuable. I've seen enough hot-shot teenagers who think they know everything turn into twenty-ish people who suddenly realize how little they know.

  • by Syberghost (10557) <syberghostNO@SPAMsyberghost.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:25AM (#449238) Homepage
    When you're older, you'll understand why.

    -
  • I agree completely that young engineers can hack code with the best of them. But do they often have the political skills to know when to talk and when to shut up? Just because a problem can be answered by the application of 300 hours of programming does NOT mean that I should listen to the person who offers this as a solution, or that he should pout when I tell him no. Know what I mean? Does the guy asking the question know how to take into consideration things like vacation time, customer impact, quality assurance, all that sort of stuff? Even simple questions often have far reaching results. Recently I was in a meeting to argue with 6 people whether to change the standard prefix for our html directory from "/t" to "/html" (names changed to protect the innocent). The /t was an artifact of a decision made 3 years ago that was no longer relevant, and confused the heck out of new people. But I was argued down, and /t stays, because "It would take 4 weeks of time to change all the existing content, and we don't have that much time." The option at this point is not to yell and scream and throw technology solutions at it ("I can dump all the content to the file system, run sed on it, then ftp it back into the repository!"), it's to learn to work with that sort of obstacle so that the next time you know how to present the problem.

    Some things to remember when you think that you're being unfairly shot down:

    • You do not get to decide what is an adequate use of your time. That's what your boss is for. Are you acutely aware of the fact that the client has already given the boss a budget, and that when you say it'll take you an extra week, that puts extra $$ into the budget that might not be there?
    • Rarely does your time NOT affect other people, so consider what dependencies you are creating. If it'll take you an extra week to do it "the right way", can the people who are waiting for your code before starting theirs wait that long?
    • Who needs to be trained in order for your solution to work? CAN those people be trained? I don't use JSP at work because I don't expect to train my HTML people in that syntax.
    • Not everybody needs to know everything. When you're showing a demo to the boss's boss, do NOT say stuff like "This came out lousy, we could do it better if we had more [time,money]."
    One of my favorite pieces of advice for headstrong young engineers who don't understand why sometimes the answer is "no". Imagine you have a brick, and you tie a piece of string to that brick. You want to get the brick moved a few feet to the left. If you yank on the string real hard, the brick won't move, and the string will break. But if you exert a smaller, but constant, force on the string, then the brick will move. Sure you won't get it there fast, but you'll get it there.
  • by Salamander (33735) <{jeff} {at} {pl.atyp.us}> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:45AM (#449240) Homepage Journal

    I'll bet that every one of the people who fails to take you or your opinions as seriously as you feel they should knows exactly how it feels because they went through exactly the same thing when they were your age. In fact, that's why some of them do it to you now; it's a rite of passage sort of thing, and they feel that if they had to go through it then you should too. Builds character, or something. I'm not saying that's right, but when you get right down to it that's what motivates a lot of their behavior.

    I can also think of a few other reasons you might get these sorts of reactions. One is that here may be some issue with how you present your opinions. Like it or not, it is your responsibility to understand your audience and convey your views in a way that is convincing to them. In this sense it's not so much an age thing as a culture thing; an older person from "outside the culture" who didn't present things "the right way" would get the same reaction. Consider what happens when a sales guy or an exec walks into a room full of engineers.

    Lastly, we come up against the fact that older people do have some advantages over younger ones. For example:

    • Older people have usually learned at some point (usually the hard way) the dangers of making brash assertions or over-optimistic predictions, so they can usually be counted on not to make those particular errors. They may often err in the opposite direction, in fact, but that's a whole different problem.
    • Older people, even the ones who seem pretty inept socially, will always always always have a finer appreciation for the human dimensions of problem-solving than any fresh-out ever did.
    • Older people don't just have ideas and knowledge, but can place them in context. A common failing among young techies - and the brightest are usually the most susceptible - is that they get caught up in an individual idea or technology's coolness but don't have the background to see how it will interact with other ideas or technologies. The older folks may not know as much about current technology, but what they do know they know in a deeper or broader sense, connecting it to a whole bunch of other little pieces of information that may (or may not) turn out to be critical.

    Despite all that, there's a lot to be said for fresh perspectives and youthful enthusiasm. Your ideas may seem flighty or unreasonable to some, but a wise man once said that because reasonable men don't try to change the world all progress depends on unreasonable men. My point here is that you can't expect them to subscribe to your idea of "merit" without some justification. Just as they have ways of doing technical things and won't change those without good reason, they have ways of doing social things and won't change those without good reason. Show them the reasons. Anticipate their objections, address their concerns, and show them in terms they will accept how things would work better if they were more accepting of ideas from "people like you".

    BTW, I'm 35. I get flak from both the youngsters and the oldsters. It's like "no man's land" in the battle between generations.

  • by cowboy junkie (35926) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:26AM (#449241) Homepage
    How exactly do you know it's because you are young? Garnering respect from your peers can be as much about how you conduct yourself as what you can do. Is it at all possible that you're just an arrogant jerk? Or on the flipside, that your demeanor doesn't show much self-confidence?

    Anyhow, regardless of age, who at one point or another doesn't feel they are getting enough respect from the boss/co-workers/guy at Starbucks, etc.?
  • by Prof_Dagoski (142697) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:37AM (#449242) Homepage

    I don't know so much if its age or the communication styles that older people--relative term here--use. Young people, especially teens, tend to be agressive and absolutist in communication style. When you communicate this way with your peers in age its just the way you talk, but at least on subconscious level, most older folks tend to think you're just being young and reckless. The communication stlyes used by older, read established professionals in say their late thirties, is quieter and more inclusive. Arrgh... I hate these vague terms, but its like I know it when I hear it. Anyway, before you even communicate, take a look at what you want to say and try to find a way to say that comes off as humble and less cocky. Demonstrate in your arguement that you've thought through all the points, and avoid stating that you know what's best or 'what's best period'. Instead show the merits of your idea and consequences of the rivals. And, avoid challenging a person. I used to do this alot at work and it gained me something of a bad rep. Instead, come at the position in a way that gives ther person credit while pointing out problems with their position. Its a tough skill to learn, but it can save your butt as a young professional, and will allow you to forge alliances within your organization.

    And that's another point: Young techies often have superb technical skills, superior skills at that, but seldom have little in they way of social skills. I cannot emphasize to everyone here that people skills are critical to your success as a professional. You may be right, or you have an inovative idea that will save the world, but it doesn't mean jack unless you can convince other people of that. And, having convinced other people of that, you still need allies who believe in you as a person to help move the idea along. A lot of geeks like to pretend that people skills don't matter and that its all technical prowess and experience. Hate to burst your bubble, but people have not changed all that much in the last fifty odd years that computers have been changing the world, and you still have to know how to deal with them.

  • by JWhitlock (201845) <.John-Whitlock. .at. .ieee.org.> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:33AM (#449243)
    I read over what this yound person had to say, and it says he's accomplished a number of tasks, yet is not respected because he is young and still in school.

    Yep, seems he needs a few more years...

    The bottom line is that age and experience do count. I could have been building Linux kernels from .1, but if it's my first day in a real job setting, then I should shut up and listen to what is going on around me. Business experience counts. Time on "real-world" projects counts. Overall years of experience in an industry count.

    When I started my job, I quickly realized that I had a better handle on C++ than the others around me. Most were veterans, with 30+ years of assembler and Fortran under their belts. When I had to start learning Fortran and assembler from 30 year old machines, I began to wonder what it would look like in my language of choice. I could see much room for improvement in data structures, in code maintance, in comment style.

    But I kept my mouth closed. I learned from my co-workers, I studied the code, I got to know machines that should be in a museum. When it got too much, I coded at home, using templates and exceptions to my heart's content.

    I've been at it for two years, and I'm starting to get the respect. I can be trusted with a major project. I know the language, and how it's used. When I argue technology, I'm arguing at their level, not at the "gee-whiz, this stuff is so out-of-date" level. I don't call security holes "obvious". In other words, I don't insult those with more experience than me.

    Go watch some Kung-Fu movies. They often have the young, brash fighter with natural talent, getting his ass kicked by an older man (or woman - go see Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon already!!!). Humility is a good lesson to learn, and if you can't be humble, at least fake it. If you are good, they will eventually accept you, and you will get respect.

    Once you get respect, you just need to keep on your toes, so some young thug doesn't come along and get you...

    Until then, growing facial hair makes you look a lot older.

  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:35AM (#449244)
    I have worked in places where I thought I was being dismissed merely because of my age. And some of those times I probably was. But looking back, I can see that some of those times I definitely wasn't.

    This is clearest now that I'm older (I'm 27). A coworker's teenager or just-out-of-school applicant will come out and say something so totally ridiculous that I almost can't help but laugh. From their expressions it's clear they think I'm dismissing them "just because they are young". But the reality is that they really don't understand and that real understanding will only come with time.

    It may be that you are a coding (or admin-ing, or whatever) god. That doesn't mean you understand The Issues: user psychology, social norms, political balances, etc. Here's a perfect example:

    From time to time, an email virus erupts on the Internet. Post after post says "if only everybody would turn off feature X". These people have an "immature understanding". It's just a simple fact that you can't get "everybody" to do ANYTHING. You can explain this to an immature (of whatever age, but often pre-20's) person but they will just stare at you blankly and then go on to explain why it would work "if only" everyone would...

    If literally no one will listen to you, you should at least consider the possibility that it's because what you are saying isn't worth listening to. If, upon sincere and mature reflection, you still think your idea has merit, ask someone why they are rejecting it. And don't dismiss their answer just because they are old.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • by omega_rob (246153) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:13AM (#449245)
    Snatch the pebble from my hand, grasshopper. You will know when you are ready, and all doors will open before you.

    In the meantime, pipe down junior and get me a frickin' coffee.

    omega_rob

  • by typical geek (261980) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:17AM (#449246) Homepage
    Even in the dotcom world, age does matter.

    I think Salon [salon.com] just ran a piece where they were saying that 30 year old CEO's were out, and VC's are looking for a CEO's with grey hair. Perhaps it was reading business2.com on the exercycle that I read this, whatever.

    Too many programmers and /.'ers are myopic, they think computer skills are all that matters, when in the real world, people skills, marketing skills, finance skills and networking (not LAN, people to people) skills are just as important, if not more. With just a little reflection, I can list tens of companies that have advanced, technically wonderful ideas that have failed or are failing, ie. Amiga, FreeBSD and even Apple, while companies that have less trendy technologies, but better marketing, are still beating the world, ie. Microsoft.

    So, even if your clueless, gray haired manager may not know Perl or PHP, they've been competing in the junglel of business for decades longer than you have, and no a few survival tricks that you don't. Learn from them, respect them and eventually replace them, but if you try to replace them too early, well, look up something called the Children's Crusade, or look up the history of NeXT.

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