I'm 32 and want to Start Programming. Can I ever Become good Enough to join Google, Microsoft, Amazon?
Someone recently asked me, on Quora: "I'm 32 and want to Start Programming. Can I ever Become good Enough to join Google, Microsoft, Amazon?" I thought it would be good to repost my response here, too.
Yes. You can.
Google, Microsoft, or Amazon can certainly employ you as a Software Development Engineer (SDE,) if this is what you really want and are prepared to make sacrifices to achieve it.
I wouldn’t worry about your age. Instead, I would focus on developing the engineering skills and proficiency these companies expect from an SDE I hire (CS degree or equivalent certification - required; 1–2 years of relevant experience - preferred.)
Four Functional Technical Interview Areas
As you learn your new craft, I would invest extra effort to practice the four functional areas these companies will test you on, during their technical interviews:
- coding; problem-solving = programming productivity. Render a verbally-described problem into well-structured code.
- coding; logical and maintainable = debug a large code base. Best practices in committing code, etc.
- coding; algorithms and data structures = CS academic foundation and your classic CS methods.
- system design; scalability and ops performance = design a production system, then change the requirements. Then adapt the design and evaluate the trade-offs, etc.
Services like Hacker Rank and Triplebyte can serve as a good measure of where you rank functionally. Once you become comfortable with such tests and develop a sense of confidence - you could consider yourself ready to interview.
Throughout, I would also volunteer to do free coding work for non-profits and startups (or better yet build your own projects that you’ve always wanted to build) to help you develop your portfolio and obtain pragmatic experience.
It will take Years of hard work
Recently, I have been impressed by everything I read and hear about Lambda School. They are a YC company (a qualification that makes them instantly credible, in my book,) that puts you through a rigorous 30-week program, which you don't have to pay for until you successfully land a coding job.
The bottom line is, remaking yourself functionally will likely take several years of hard work (maybe 3 or 5; fewer if you are truly gifted,) but it’s entirely possible to achieve, if you want it badly enough.
If you have the stamina and fortitude to remake yourself into an SDE-I-caliber talent - you will, in time, become an engineer at Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.