New job and new programming language in my middle ages


I am 43 years old, from Berlin and originally studied statistics and mathematics. At first I had a job as a clinical data manager and clinical programmer using SAS. Those didn’t go well, there was always knowledge or experience missing in order to do the job to their satisfaction, so I always lost them after a few months.

Then I had a job as an onboarding agent, didn’t code there at all but it was the job I had longest. It was also quite boring and not very demanding so I had a small Bore Out.

Now I have a new job which I got due to luck and coincidence. I did three training courses for it: JavaScript, PHP and C (the original one). I know SQL already. I received very good grades in those courses but they were for beginners. The work in jobs is always more difficult and now I am confronted with D3 which feels like a completely new language. Not only that but it also looks abstract and not intuitive with lots of fragments put together. It is difficult to see from the code alone what it does. With standard code I could see and analyze it.

I watched a 19h video and reading a 600 page book about D3, but can still not understand most of how it works. Maybe a job with less programming is better, I don’t know. I thought I am IT affine but I don’t see myself as a full developer/programmer like my friend is. But then people say that a guy like me should be trained and skilled enough to be able to code.

I read a few of your other posts and they encouraged me to continue. What is the best way to learn D3? My first task is to implement a zoom function on a graph that works fine in the examples given on the web but I don’t know how to adapt into my example and then in the real problem.

Hey, I’m just replying to this because you didn’t get any replies yet. I don’t know anything about D3, but with programming in general practice is key. I’m a beginner, but in the short time I’ve spent studying web development I’ve already read the same advice about a thousand times: practice, practice, practice. It’s great that you’re watching videos and reading books about the language you need to learn, but in order to make everything stick and to really understand how it works, you need to get your hands dirty and apply what you learned. Just start programming.

When you struggle with a task, try to divide it into smaller steps. And if you don’t know how to solve one of these smaller problems, then at least you have a precise question to research. If you don’t find anything, there’s StackOverflow. :wink:


Thanks for your answer.

Yes, I got quite far with my sample task, there is now a problem which I don’t know to solve.

I asked around and in some forums people replied, in other they didn’t or stopped after a while.

When I started to program SAS I had no forums where I could ask and no YouTube videos, only some books. So I had to practice a lot myself. I wonder why I still didn’t manage.

I watched another D3 video, also by Curran, which was a bit shorter and is more suitable for beginners. Also another 150 page book helped a lot since it was also very basic. Maybe I would have been better in SAS had there been Videos and forums as well. Now I see those videos on the web but I don’t need SAS at the moment.
I remember the VBA forum helped a lot back then.

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Hi @Dvdscot.

As an anecdote I can tell you that my company has recently hired a 40plus, first tech job, as a junior frontend dev.
With some guidance and mentorship they are already going to speed, contributing and closing items in the backlog.

So yeah, it can definitely achievable to transition to programming role at any age and at any experience level.
I guess it all comes down to managing expectations. :slight_smile:

In your case, as you want to deal with D3, I suggest you learn the basics of JS and DOM manipulation firsts, as D3 has an API that resembles that quite a bit.
In general with programming is not wise to learn a single library, unless you are already an experienced programmer. In all other cases it’s always best to start with the basics, so that libraries will feel more natural to work with.

You can do this :muscle: :sparkle:

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I’m afraid I cannot do this. I spent the first month watching tutorial videos and reading 2.5 books, then I started to program a graph with lots of features. I had to ask for every step and luckily always received a reply so that it does what it should do. I don’t really understand it though. I started by creating data using the methods learned in my course, very simple with a for loop and pushing data. That worked and I could understand it. Now the colleague did it in just a few lines with map and […xxx] which I have seen before but never understood the complete concept. I bet if I use it again for different data it won’t work.
Then I was ill/sick for 2.5 weeks, now after my return I don’t understand my own code anymore and I need to continue to put in more and that is still only the example and not the real data. I had a look at the program using real data and it is horrible. I think I am not a developer but rather an executer or clerk, I can do things that have a functioning system in the background and I can develop or program small things that a part of something bigger. I can probably also oversee and control things but at the moment I am not coding, I am guessing and just copying code fragments from functioning programs on the web into my program. It is really painful. :worried:

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