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Can I be “too young” to get a programming job?

I would like a part-time job as a programmer. Unfortunately, I am 16.

I've worked somewhat extensively with C/C++, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and the Windows API. I've received A's in college-level courses for all the "basic" computer classes, C/C++, Java, and Assembly. I spent a summer designing the UIs and writing the backends of several C# .NET web applications for a non-software company (as a job, not an intern) so I suppose I have minimal job experience if nothing else.

I've written social-network-type websites with MySQL/PHP backends. I've written small applications like one that analyzes what you spend your time on the computer doing.

I'd like a job that pays at least above minimum wage. Is what I'm asking for out of the question because I'm in high school, or is there something you would recommend? I got the summer job with the recommendation of a friend who worked there. Would companies typically reject me because of my age?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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marked as duplicate by Glenn Nelson, World Engineer, Caleb, Mark Trapp Nov 9 '11 at 8:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

If you already had a job then why are you asking? Age discrimination is illegal, but experience discrimination isn't. –  Pubby Nov 9 '11 at 3:20
@Pubby Age discrimination would probably be officially masked under something else. I'm sure people will readily hire a 26 year old with a little experience instead of a 16 year old with more experience. Its all based on trust that come with age –  TheLQ Nov 9 '11 at 3:28
For companies like ours, if you know your stuff, the younger you are better it is. –  Dipan Mehta Nov 9 '11 at 5:53
Unfortunately, I am 16 -- that is NOT unfortunate –  good_computer Nov 9 '11 at 6:42
Hmm what do you mean? –  Brandon Nov 9 '11 at 6:46
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2 Answers

Chances are that you're not going to find part time work strictly as a developer with a company.

There are a few things you could try however:

  • Put together a personal portfolio site. Get a few business cards printed out and visit local (smaller) businesses and put your name out there as looking for contract web work.
  • Check out oDesk or freelancer.com. I'm not 100% about age restrictions, but you might be able to find work on those sites (albeit lower paying, but it's what you'll get at your age ;))
  • Think of a good idea and start your own company. Greplin's founder Daniel Gross started pitching ideas at 17 (I believe) and wound up getting himself (with a co-founder) $5M in a VC round either last year or the year before at the ripe old age of 18.

Other than that, just work on a github or bitbucket portfolio. If yours is extensive enough, I'm sure you'll be contacted sooner or later by recruiters based on the content (of course, providing that it's high quality stuff ;))

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+1 for start your own company. I was VAT registered the instant I was legally allowed to be, at 16, and if you can get a few recommendations under your belt, age needn't matter a jot (depending on local laws of course). –  Mark Booth Nov 9 '11 at 18:11
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You face numerous hurdles. Some are localized. Where do you live? What are the labor laws? How many hours can you work? Is anyone willing to pay you to work those hours?

Additionally you face other factors. One being that if no one will hire you that you can't legally sign a contract in most countries. IE your hiring party can't hold you liable. Your work around here is that you get your parentals to sign your contractual obligations.

Chances are if you work hard enough you will find work but it will be well below market value and it won't be anything exceptionally exciting unless you have a strong support network of those willing to back you up.

Best bet is in the mean time continue to build a portfolio of work that you can present.

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