I was born and raised in a military family. I’ve lived on both coasts and also on the
Mediterranean. As a teenager in Athens, Greece I quickly learned that experiencing a
different culture was a fantastic gig for my brain (thanks Mom and Dad).
Being slung around the world in my formative years was not without its own
particular conundrums, however awesome my childhood truly was. I became a loyal
democrat; I grew to dislike narrow-minded individuals; I knew that white wasn’t the
only skin color on the planet; good food meant variety; great conversation meant
diversity; and reading books was a means to an end of getting smarter, keeping a
good job, and having something to contribute.
So being a snob comes natural to me. And determining where to settle down with
likeminded snobs became crucial to my well-being.
Hence, I migrated to the Bay Area: A phenomenal package wrapped up in a
picturesque landscape that attracts millions of visitors every year. Its natural
beauty, liberal politics, entrepreneurial spirit and diversity are well known (I got
that from Wikipedia, but it’s still true) and so it was easy to call it home.
For a snob like me it was the place to settle down, find a great job and get on with
life. In short, I believe the Bay Area saved my life. Initially.
Not So Quick – Is the Bay Area Really the Place to Be?
This article is not about how the Bay Area is arguably one of the most expensive
places to live in the world (it is). It’s not about where all the uber-hip, large
enterprises have located their headquarters (here). It’s not about the top 1% who
own homes in this area (so many do). It’s not about the fact that engineers rule the
world (they do), and are the central focus for most businesses (sometimes the only
focus). It’s not about knowing your technology (you’d better) and keeping up with
digital spurts (mind blowing).
Wait. It is about all that. But it’s mostly about how I keep getting turned down by the
uber-hip, large enterprises when I apply for jobs.
I’m a Gen-X girl who’s over 40, bright, passionate and driven by technology. I have a
wealth of scattered experience. I’ve worked for numerous companies on different
projects. I care about good product.
So OMG and WTF is wrong? Could it be (gasp) I’m too old? Could it be that I’m not
smart enough? What must a girl like me do to get her foot back in the door?
Have I been out-snobbed by the best-of-the-best in the Bay Area? Dang, that hurts.
I’m Sorry I’m Old
The media say that Silicon Valley loves innovators, creative thinkers, people who think outside the box–like an entrepreneur–agile and quick witted. And if you play soccer … score!
I say that the uber-hip, large enterprises love the 15% who have already worked for
other large enterprises, and who are younger than 40.
The onslaught of the current 21st Century Recession was also the onslaught of
ditchin’ dem ol’ folk. In other words, shipping the Over-the-Hill back home. And
home for many of us felt like the Funny Farm as we navigated the waters to find
another ship. Metaphors abound.
Ah, yes. These uber-hip, large enterprises justified this ‘ditching’ as a regrettable
consequence of diminishing returns and fiscal responsibility to their shareholders.
But we know what it was. They were cleaning house and looking for fresh blood.
It’s as simple as that.
There is No More Retirement
For those of you inclined to comment, please do, but perhaps I can save you some
trouble. We, the Gen-X gang, were born from roughly 1961 onward, and we:
- Don’t have fresh skills and are stuck in the past
- Can’t take direction from a younger boss
- Abhor change and are disagreeable
- Ask for too much money
- Are not as smart as the others (thank you Mr. Zuckerberg)
If these are your thoughts be veeeewy fwighten’d. You too, are aging. Ouch!
Retirement is currently a figment of our imagination. There is no such thing
We all must work until we are old (except for the 1% who own all the money in the
world), and then we must work some more.
Here’s Your Pep Talk
For those ‘old’ people whose elevators still rise to the top but who find themselves
getting turned down again and again from Amazon and LinkedIn and Google and
eBay and PayPal and Apple and Tesla and Yahoo and Wells Fargo and Intel and
Oracle and Visa and Symantec and Bing and Salesforce and … I write this for you.
Don’t give up. Eventually there will be no more young people and companies will
have to cast a wider net for us slow-swimming fish. Freelance now, with the
understanding that the tides are turning and full time positions are definitely on the
rise. (Oh, the metaphors! Stop me!)
Don’t give up. We are smart and creative. We know the value of right-brain left-
brain synchronicity. We’re wiser. We know when to shut up. This has dollar-value.
Pretty soon it will be recognized.
Don’t give up. We believe in commitment. We’re not climbers, therefore we don’t
climb. We stick around and watch others do the climbing, providing support at every step. We may be a bit slower (too much soccer) but we make fewer mistakes. These are key performance indicators. Trust me.
Don’t give up. Boys, get your hair dyed (we girls do it) and we should all ponder a
slight nip and tuck along the jaw line. There is simply no excuse in displaying your
real age. No need to get Real Housewives about it, but just a little carving won’t
Don’t give up. We don’t care if our boss is younger. He or she probably worked hard to get there. We like smart people. They are easier to work for. We know what the market will bear and that’s how much salary we request. And we don’t party as much. Two drinks and we want to go home.
And if the business world keeps forcing you prematurely into mental Depends, just envision the following:
You are Rutger Hauer. And you are being interviewed by Harrison Ford. Harrison has just asked you about your experience. Scroll to 1:40 below to find out what you say…
And then, have a good laugh. You’ve worked for it.
* Originally published on LinkedIn.