Recently I saw a great article in the New York Times Online titled “Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem”. It got me thinking about the age groups in my surroundings. I am heavily involved in the hardware startup scene in New York and when I look around I see mostly people in their twenties. Maybe thirties. I have become the old one in the bunch. I was the young one not that long ago. I remember those days in the 90’s and early 2000’s. So tech is cool now. I remember those uncool days.
I can see how the guard has changed. Older people have worked in corporate life 20-30 years doing mostly the same thing or moving up in the same organization. It has become hard for them to see the value in the new and latest app. Sounds like being stuck. The young look upon those years at the some company as stagnation. The same old same old.
Then there is the hip factor or coolness factor. Companies that use were consider cool are no longer. Take Microsoft, when I talk to people Microsoft is not the first place to work on their list, if at all. The young have not grown up with workplace security. Do you older people remember when you could be working at one company for a long time and expect to retire from that company? Well that has changed, a while ago. So now the young graduates don’t have that security so they try to find something for now. It is like the job market has appealed to people with ADD. So looking for something sexy fits in well.
The easiest explanations are mismatched skill sets or cultural friction. Older engineers are not smart in the way that start-ups want them to be — or, if they are, they have reservations about the start-up lifestyle. Both these reasons are symptomatic of how far apart the two sides have drifted. If there are whole swaths of engineering talent whose skills or styles cannot be integrated into a company, then maybe that operation has been limiting itself.
The article makes a good point in that some older engineers are stuck knowing what they know and not able to move into other areas of knowledge. Where is the flexibility? Or is it the way of tolerating the openness when placed in a challenging situation. I think the stuckidness( I made that up) comes from, as you get older, having more things and people to take care of. A house, children and maybe a car. With payments for each thing. When you are young those things will happen later. According to PewResearch only 26 percent of 18-to-33-year-olds are married. While, 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of Baby Boomers and 65 percent of the members of the Silent Generation were married during that same age range.
At MakeSimply I am the oldest in the bunch. That has not stopped me thinking of creative ways of working and help out our customers.
Photo credit: andyi / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND