software developer age ict4d

Am I Too Old to Start a Digital Development Career?

Question 14: Am I too old to start a development career?

I have over a decade of experience in software development and data journalism. I am now 37 years old. Am I too old to start a career in international development?

Have a job search or career growth question? Ask me!

Development Needs Many Viewpoints

International development is like any industry, it constantly needs new viewpoints to see and develop innovation and move the industry forward. These viewpoints come at different stages – be they views from early career, mid-career, senior career, or even retired professionals.

At 37 years old with over a decade of software development and data journalism experience, you would have very relevant skills and abilities that many international development employers would highly value.

you are not too old

In fact, you could be at a great age to make the move into development. You probably have the enthusiasm to develop new ideas and the maturity to mold them into practical solutions. Check out our jobs newsletter – one could be just for you.

ict4d travel jobs

A Joy of ICT4D Employment: International Travel

Greetings from 35,000FT

As you read this, I am enjoying a miracle of modern life: international airlines. I am on the 10th longest commercial passenger flight – Johannesburg to Atlanta – and I’m in awe that we’ve figured out how to get 300+ people over 8,000 miles in just 15 hours.

Only a lifetime ago, this trip would only be possible by boat, and even then much more perilous than flying. Still, every takeoff I pray, and every inflight bump I fear, even after a a lifetime of air travel.

I am blessed

One of the reasons I write this newsletter to 4000+ subscribers is that I want more people to live the blessed life I have. I fly around the world – I just visited country #86 – and help people live better lives, using digital technology.

Of course, digital technology has its issues, hence the Digital Principles, DHIRT, and other resources to keep us working for good. Also, I certainly have carbon guilt with all these flights. However, I am convinced that the world is a better place thanks to my small inputs contributing to larger social movements.

Join me!

Please look at the IntraHealth job openings, and sign up for our newsletter. However, you don’t have to wait for a dream digital development job to effect change around the world. I started my ICT4D career with my own self-funded trip to East Africa back in 2002. That experience led to the career I enjoy now.

Actually, I could make a decent case that my Peace Corps Moscow experience in 1997 was my first true development work. I’d still recommend volunteering for the Peace Corps too – it is still the toughest job I ever loved.

However you do it, I’d love to have you in this field too.

Good luck!

How Did You Get Your Current Job?

Did you blindly apply to a job ad, get an interview, then get hired? Or did you know someone at the organization who put in a good word for you? Better yet, did you already know the team before the job ad went live?

I’m willing to bet that you got your current job through your connections. You knew someone who knew someone.

That’s why I’m always surprised when people focus their job search efforts on crafting the perfect CV or cover letter, but don’t think to network with their friends and meet potential employers long before a job ad is even written.

Yes, it is easier to work on your cover letter than to meet strangers and small talk when you just want the pain of job searching to be over. Trust me, I get it. Looking for a job is hard, stressful, and if you don’t currently have a job, its downright maddening.

So don’t spend an extra second living in job search angst. Get off the CV and get out there and meet people. The faster you do, the quicker you’ll have a job and can relax in the warm embrace of your new coworkers.

Good luck!

Stop Wasting Time: Apply for Your Dream Job

Earlier this week, I was career coaching an aspiring ICT4D practitioner who was applying to all manner of job opportunities. While their dream job was in one area, say human rights, they were also applying for similar roles in economic development and health.

Their idea, which is a common one, is that they should hedge their bets and still apply to areas outside their core interest, just in case.

However, this strategy usually backfires. As they found out, employers can tell when you are enthused and focused on their core mission, or not. The applicant was being asked in interviews if they would really be excited by economic development. They tried to put on a good face, but both the applicant and the employer knew better.

So if that’s the reality – your passion must show through in this hyper-competitive job market – stop wasting your time with roles outside of your dream job sector. Apply for your dream jobs first, second, and always.