22. Am I old enough?

I’m 22 years old today and it’s story time: When I was 17 years old I bought my first portable MP3 player. I reverse engineered the Windows driver that came with it and wrote a Linux driver. After some time I was contacted by the Singaporean company that manufactured the player. They were quite happy with my work because they had “lost contact” with the Chinese company they had outsourced driver development to. Not only did they give me their support, they wanted to hire me to write a Linux driver for their next product. I was willing to start the work immediately, but they needed my CV first due to formalities. After I sent them my CV I never heard back from them. I doubt it was due to my lack of work experience, as I had already demonstrated that I had the necessary skills. So if you were wondering ‘Old enough for what?’ after reading the title of this post, the answer is ‘Old enough to write software for a company in Singapore.’

42 thoughts on “22. Am I old enough?

  1. Per Christian Gaustad

    If this was at the time the Norwegian DVD case against you was in court, it could be that they were afraid to hire you when they found out who you were.

    Just a thought…

  2. Intangir

    I know how you feel, i have actually been scoffed out of an interview before by some corperate dickwad (VP) because i “looked too young.”
    And i was 22 or 23 at the time and had been programming professionally in C++ for 5-6 years

    this was after 4 interviews including 3 with their programming staff which all were excited about hiring me

  3. Phusion

    The deuce-deuce. Yeah, I’m 22 as well and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be πŸ™‚ Fortunatly, here in california a lot of people recognize the skills of the youth, because they know that we’re all internet addicts and programmers now. I think it really depends on who you’re dealing with, some people just have an outdated world view.

  4. Adrian

    .. but I suspect Per Christian Gaustad is correct.

    Women blame being a woman for not getting a job.
    Very young, their age.
    Very old, their age.
    Highly qualified, they’re over qualified.

    Maybe, just maybe, they found someone better suited to the post they wanted?

  5. jenny

    You are not old enough to write software for a company in Singapore,also in other orient countrys.The reason is the different culture.
    In our opinion,employ someone is not only for his skills but also personality,ability,courage,humanity.
    17 years old is too young,as the same age ,in orient,they have many things to learn from his parents,teachers,and other eldership.It is pribilege of the old people to talk,while the young must listen and hold their tongue.Before 20 years old,people have not perfect personality.
    But that is not implicit,maybe they will accepte you when you show more civility,modesty.

  6. Phusion

    Update! Someone just walked into the computer store I work at (not a chain) and asked me if I’m the owner hehe, so, does that answer your question?

  7. mdipi

    Happy birthday Jon, I’m sure they’ll let you work for them someday, maybe you just gotta ask nicer ;-).

  8. jd

    I wouldn’t say it’s the Singapore culture. Most likely upper management. Them suckers!

    Anyway, happy birthday to you!

  9. Jehu

    Dude, if you were at least 18 they would have. I’m from Singapore. Its just more red tape to put any good man down, even one as talented as yourself… =|

    Happy Birthday BTW!

  10. Pablo Noel

    Hi, this kind of shits alwas happen, i have 23, and all my life the “old” people say, you are too young for this, fot that, for anything!, you are a genius, so relax, when they think you are on the right age, it was too late for them. and you probably work on your dream job. I just wait the correct people, and now i do my dream jobs!

    And dude im feel like an dinosaur and i just 23 !!

    happy birthday!

  11. Eirik

    Gratulerer med dagen fra kalde, mΓΈrke Norge, Jon! Misunner deg ikke i det hele tatt. Γ… nei, da… πŸ™‚

  12. DreamCodeR

    Congratulations, Jon. 22 years old, not just little Norwegian Jon who played Hollywood a trick anymore ;D

    Anyway, Hope you had a superb birthday.

    – A Fellow Norwegian

  13. kozen

    Happy birthday too.

    You are not old enough to write software for a company in Singapore,also in other orient countrys.The reason is the different culture.
    In our opinion,employ someone is not only for his skills but also personality,ability,courage,humanity.
    17 years old is too young,as the same age ,in orient,they have many things to learn from his parents,teachers,and other eldership.It is pribilege of the old people to talk,while the young must listen and hold their tongue.Before 20 years old,people have not perfect personality.
    But that is not implicit,maybe they will accepte you when you show more civility,modesty.

    Fact: Nobody has a perfect personality.

    Because I’m living and working in the People’s Republic of China right now, I’m in common with that situation. Moreover I have to say: “What a stupid shit!” Punishing young poeple for their age is the same like punishing others for their skin. Racism! I know young poeple who are acting, thinking and living like an adult, they are already grown up. Furthermore I know older ones who could be a real Peter Pan. It just depends on the person itself.

    May be some people should think about their grown cultures. Perhaps they are obsolete and the company executive’s thinking should be updated. (I guess such a process may take more than a generation ;))

  14. Craig

    Happy Birthday – Don’t wait too long to get acquainted with Mt. San Jacinto, Mt. San Gorgonio, Mt. Baldy, and all of the Sierra Nevada.

    Never feel bad that someone doesn’t hire you – that they don’t only shows that they wouldn’t be fun to work for anyway.

  15. Frank

    I am 62 years young and have worked with computers since 1984 and now i am to old to get any computer related jobs. How ” young ” ore ” old ” must one be ?
    Happy Birthday Jon

  16. Dr Creek

    I coudl have started work at a company just building computers at age 16 but they woudn’t take me coz i was 16. Not liek i’d been building them since i was 8? tomorrow i go for an interview to build servers for Insight. and i’m still only 19? i have no i dea where this is going so i’ll say Happy birthday bro!

  17. Vga


    Aye, I know the feeling. I’m 16, I’m probably more skilled than the other guys at the computer store I work in, still, as I’m the 16 years old, I’m not good enough to build computers, take care of the big customers. I don’t do my homework as I am expected to, I still get 6’s and 5’s. I’ve built appx. 30 computers for my friends, for my self and at school, I’m still not “qualified” to do it at work. I’m trying to get another job, but here in Belgium I’m considered too young to get that kind of jobs. I dress nicely, I don’t listen to repulsive music, and I still can’t get a job… Except the one I have though.. But that’s boring as there’s not any challenges, or any real fun.

    Everytime there’s a customer coming that’ve been there before, they ask for me…. Still I don’t get handle the customers unless the others are busy.

    Btw, I’m norwegian and going to the scandinavian school here in Belgium. That’s why I’m getting norwegian grades..=)

  18. PaulW.

    Very happy birthday to you! Your story sounds very familiar. I’m an ‘old guy’ who’s been in the industry for many years. When I was 17 I interviewed for a job, (writing COBOL on big-iron, yeah I know, but it was about the only way to make money writing code at the time). I already had the work experience they wanted as I had been doing it professionally, passed their tests with flying colors, and their programming managment wanted to hire me after our phone interview. I was in the final phone-interview with the HR guy when they *finally* asked the question… “How old are you?” I hesitated for a moment thinking if I should stretch it a bit but finally said ’17’. The only thing I heard on the other end of the phone was a ‘click’ as he hung up and I got a rejection letter in the mail a few days later.

    I would have thought things had gotten better since the 70’s, and it sounds like they have in some places, but apparently not in Singapore!

    Take care and have a great B-Day!

  19. GooHome

    It’s necessary to eliminate all forms of age discrimination! [the unspoken prayer]:)

    Take care and have a great B-Day!

  20. Willis

    Hello, I’m just a PC guy getting into the MAC world and doing allot of research. I’ve been reading about you and the things you’ve done and been threw. You have allot going for you, don’t stop dreaming, & most of all be true to who you are.

    Happy Birthday & Keep up the Good work,
    I’m in the South Bay Area (San Jose) if you need anything.

  21. Singapore Expat

    Tell me about it… Singapore still in the dark ages when it comes to its society… they do not have democracy there…. the island is owned by Lee’s family and there is no way you can prove anything in court there in case your case does not lay down with the way of thinking of the ruling family…they control everything.

    On top of that the culture of the dominant ethnical group makes it even worse. They suppress other national minorities. But officially have propaganda that says that their society is open and fair… such a lie…

    Anyway even if you got the job and were to move there, I think after few years you would have seen the whole ugliness of the live there… not worth it…

    No public elections, execution of the people, secret services and ignorance to the other cultures makes it wrong place to invest your energy and time…

  22. david

    Pathetic, like walking in a shop and taking the good of the shelf, going to the check out and just before you pay asking to see the functional specification. Leave it on the shelf as the questions, ask for the cv and then offer the job but not the other way round. They were simply milking you for your knowledge.

    So many average managers in trumped up jobs who in the end can’t spot a guru if he/she sat on there face!

    Me? I never doubt determination.

  23. Jukka

    Well, it’s not so bad as long as you know that you’ve got the skill. Some years later, you may thank yourself for not getting the job and doing whatever you did instead.

    Jenny, thanks for brilliant comment.
    And Jon, Good Birthday to you. We all owe you some.

  24. Scott Ellsworth

    Age is always a problem. When you are 20, you look too young. When you are 30, you are older than the young turks coming out of college. Hit 40, and you are suddenly too old to code in most people’s minds.

    The simple truth is this – people are scared by all changes. If an interviewer takes a liking to you, that will overwhelm their worry about the change you represent. If not, then ‘you are too young’ is an excuse – the fact is that they are scared by _any_ new person.

    I finally decided to do what I like, and to assume that the money would follow. It pretty much did – I am not an internet bazillionaire, but I get paid to do interesting and challenging work, and to do it with people I like. All in all, pretty keen.


  25. Hismann

    Hi Jon!

    Got to this blog by chance. What have been said by ‘Singapore Expat’ pretty much summed what I wanted to comment on this topic. But given the chance, I think you’d better not be employed by the company or ANY Singaporean company: they’ll work you to death.

    You’ve got so much to offer and thank goodness your CV wasn’t even considered. Can’t bear the thought if they did though…. πŸ™‚

  26. Wilmar

    oh man, I’m 22 too. I think that was gross what they did. If you are “capable” to work, the age doesn’t matter. After all, you’re good on your field, just keep the way you are.

  27. Gabe

    Although I’m a little late, you and I share the same birthday as the rest of the 80’s children. Geez, hope I don’t sound to weird about saying that.


  28. faded

    Just so that you don’t judge these people too rapidly, sometimes law might be a constraint as well.

    In Japan for instance, you must have a 4 year degree or 10 years of proven experience (meaning references needed) to be able to get an engineer visa. Knowing the singapore people to be very strict and formal, I would not be surprised that they have similar laws regarding working visa. OTOH, they should have at least contacted you again to explain the situation.


  29. Burningmace

    I’ve been coding since I was 8 years old. After 10 years, I’m pretty well versed in about 20 different programming languages (but mainly code in VB, sometimes venturing off to C++). Back when I was 16 I wrote an administration program for my school, allowing the tech staff to invoke windows update simultaneously on all systems, or on all systems in one building/room. I got payed Β£200 for it. I don’t see a problem with starting young, or being employed young. Younger people have better imaginations and learn much more quickly.

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