As a senior adult, deciding to make a career change at first seems daunting. Adding one small criterium solves that problem very simply: choose something I want to learn whether I get hired in that capacity or not. Being a software engineer has persisted as an interest throughout my entire career in technology. So, let's stop putting it off by adding it to my bucket list. Voila! the new bucket list looks a little like this:
The on-boarding staff at GA are incredibly accessible. They help me get a scholarship and provide counseling to help me prepare to immerse. It's important to note here that "immerse" is not hyperbole. This program is my life right now.
Eight weeks ago I could not have built these at all. The learning continues, and I am discovering how I can make them better.
With five weeks remaining, and server-side lessons and labs getting behind me, confidence and excitement are growing. I find myself designing apps I want to build as soon as the program ends. Classmates from all over the country are becoming friends and my network is growing. But, I find myself still questioning my employ-ability. I rely on my experience as a senior adult to adjust my "thinking." Getting a job will not make me a software engineer. Having the skills is the qualifier, and I'm over half-way there.
A funny thing happened on the way to retirement. I realized: I’m not done yet. After accepting an exit package from a large corporation, I enjoyed the chance to step back, take in the scenery, and decide what’s next. My surprise on viewing this new landscape was in the discovery that even as a senior adult, starting a new career was still an option.
So, what do I want to be now that I’m grown up? If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that I don’t have to decide what I want to do forever. The real question is: what do I want to do right now? And, just like when I was 17, a thousand passions conjure up ideas, including being in a rock band. The difference from being 17? I know that settling on one isn’t a life-long commitment. So, how deeply do I want something becomes the bigger question? How much time, energy, and money (this round is not on Papa’s dime) do I want to invest in any of these interests?
Let’s break that down. How much time am I willing to invest in training for a new career? Ten years? No. Four years? No. Two? Maybe? Six months? Sure.
Next, is the energy question. This is a tough one when the world seems to be changing fast while I’m slowing down. Again, a thing I understand now that totally eluded me at 17: I need to enjoy the journey, not just focus on the goal. If I’m enjoying the learning process, the learning will be a source of energy, not a drain.
Money. I’m on a fixed income. The real conversation is not just about money. It’s about commitment. The battle between the dreamer and the realist isn’t entirely over how much can I afford. Rather, will I see this plan through?
As I explore these questions, I find myself feeling renewed. I get to dream again like a 17-year-old, only this time with the wisdom my parents tried so hard to instill in me. They would find that funny, and be pleased.