The Older I get

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Uncle Al
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The Older I get

Post by Uncle Al »

The Older I get - - - -
The Older I get 2021-10-02.jpg
I feel this way, most of the time :D

Uncle Al
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Re: The Older I get

Post by crfriend »

I ran headlong into that reality with my last job interview which was held with a collection of 20-somethings.

Let's set the stage. I'm 60 now, and thanks to some unfortunate genetic accident or an early-life overtraining of my mind I seem to have what approaches total recall. This means I retain pristine memories of how my mind functioned then I was a 20-something. This is good because it allows me to plumb the past; it's bad because it exposes just how little I knew when I was a 20-something but stood taller than usual above my peers, and this had nothing to do with height. Four decades on, my thought processes are fundamentally different, and that baffles the 20-something mind that must know everything in order to stand out from the herd. In those decades, I have adopted Albert Einstein's mantra of, "Never commit something to memory that can be trivially looked up. This is not operative in the 20-something mind.

The net result is that folks of my age, although still highly competent practitioners cannot find employment because those doing the interviewing think they know more than those that they are interviewing. I heard this explicitly from the last attempt, "You couldn't answer enough questions off the top of your head." The answer to that, of course, is that they're asking the wrong questions. I'm as sharp as I ever was, and now I'm being put out to pasture (or sent to the glue factory) because I can't regurgitate specific operating system command syntax instead of being judged on my ability to successfully prosecute troubleshooting on highly complex systems.

I may be slightly slower now to fix something because of the time to look things up and get access to the required books. My fastest time-to-repair a failed DEC KI-10 (a machine made up of more than 1,000 individual boards) was on the order of seconds. The walk to the spares room to collect the replacement part took more time than it did to nail down what it was. Elapsed time was under two minutes and everybody else was still staring at the failed system. How was this done? I'd committed to memory pretty much everything about the KI-10 because I was enthralled with them, and when my eyes swept the many-boxes and many-thousands of lights, those lights told me a story. I can't do that now, because all of the memory is off-board in volumes of documentation which I can look up. But, I have the tactics that allow it to happen faster than anybody approaching it without those tactics can hope to achieve. The strategy than enables tactics only comes from long experience, and sometimes that experience is gained painfully -- something the 20-somethings don't have unless they've really been thrown to the wolves (I was, and it helped shape me).

So, do I look at things differently than when I was in my 20s? Absolutely yes; I look at it in more nuanced ways; sometimes I get ashamed of my youthful arrogance; and I always cherish the notion that I will continue to learn, evolve, and grow up until the day I depart this miserable little rock that orbits an entirely ordinary star in a boring part of a completely ordinary galaxy. I may be less than a mote of dust in the universe, but dammit, whilst I'm still here I have my voice, my technique. and my prowess. And a mind with sixty (and counting) circuits around that perfectly ordinary star.
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Re: The Older I get

Post by jamodu »

“You couldn't answer enough questions off the top of your head."

Recently, my 27 year-old Daughter applied for 2 Marketing Manager positions in 2 different sections of the same company. She failed to secure one of these roles because she “referenced too many marketing techniques during her interview” (!).

She successfully secured the position in the other department, because her marketing knowledge, abilities, and marketing experience - exhibited by the technical language she used - was just what they were looking for.

That is, sometimes a company exhibits different and conflicting cultures. It isn’t necessarily about a candidate’s age.
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Re: The Older I get

Post by Sinned »

Carl, I don't know what the job was that you applied for but it seems like the interviewer(s) thought that they were trying to fill a programmer position rather than an analyst/investigator role. In my bank role I was initially nominally an Analyst/Programmer but a smaller but vital part of the job was the ability and experience, upon partial or total failure of the mainframe, to investigate, fix the fault and have the system up and running again, quickly. This required entirely different skills. Anyone can look up syntax in a programming language manual - that's trivial - and there are too many languages out there now for anyone to know detailed syntax of more than say a half dozen. Looks like that was the situation you were in. In their arrogance they really didn't know the role they were trying to fill and not enough to differentiate between experience and skills and mere knowledge. Well, their loss although of little comfort to you.
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