I'm 28 and never had a job. Due to a disability I never felt confident. Is it too late or unrealistic to get a programming job?

I graduated with a CS degree in 2011, since then I have kept up with front-end. I have worked with all the major frameworks at some point (going through the documentation).

For some stupid reason I look at what I have and I have no complete apps. So I am working on building a portfolio focusing on JavaScript small-to-medium apps.

Over these years I have been focusing on my disability. I had a reason to believe that with a lot of hard work I could get stronger. So after leaving University, I thought that I should focus on my physical problems then start work when I am in a better shape.

Now I am in a great shape (still with problems but feel good with myself) and I think I made the worst decision for delaying my career. Now I am a 28 year old man with nothing to show for myself.

Is it realistic to believe that I can get a job a a junior-dev if I start applying? Or should I aim for something different, working a a minimum wage job that requires no experience.

I was recommended that I should just send my CV with a cover letter saying “I struggle with a significant physical disability that has kept me from the work market until now, as I have now been able to develop the skills I need to function in the professional world”. Another developer made it sound easier my saying “what you could do yesterday was no bearing on what you can do today” that I should simply apply. Another said that age was no relevance I should just get involved with the community (not sure what that means). Few said (without knowing that I was disabled) that they’d never hire me, they’d rather hire someone with 6 months experience at macdonalds (right now, the way I feel, I’d gladly do that if I was able to)

Every time I think of applying I feel ashamed, unsure.

What should I do

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Welcome to the forums, @relio.

If you have up-to-date skills and could handle a job in development, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get one, in my opinion. Work on your portfolio, so you have something you can show for those years out of the jobs market, and set about convincing prospective employers that you have the skills they want. OK, so you don’t have work experience, but what you do have is a demonstrated ability and desire to keep up-to-date with developments, and to work on your own initiative. Those things are also important to employers.

Yes, explain that the lack of employment has been due to health issues, but be sure to emphasise that you’re now in a much better place and ready to enter the jobs market. Employers may be wary of taking you on if they think you’re going to have a lot of time off sick.

You could also consider doing a stint of voluntary work. That would give you somebody who can write a reference and vouch for your ability to turn up on time, be reliable, work unsupervised - whatever. Every little helps.


Congratulations on your graduation in 2011!

You are right at the beginning of a long career if you want to take that path. A 5 year delay these days is nothing. Put together your portfolio even if it is partial applications. Hiring people don’t necessarily want to see what you have done in its entirety. They just want to see that you can do it. Get your CV out there ASAP and get it circulating. Find user groups or programmer groups, that get together socially, and start networking with them. Check with your local Library many times they know where the groups meet. Sometimes they even meet in the library. (Although a pub is preferred for the groups I hang with…) Find business social groups and join some of them(e.g. Kiwanis International). Sell yourself. If nobody knows you exist nobody is going to hire you.

Generally speaking time is not an issue in this industry, and I know many friends who have degrees in chemistry, psychology and philosophy that are now developers because they couldn’t make enough money in their chosen career path. They switched in their 30s that was 20 years ago and they’re still programming today. You are YOUNG at 28. You are definitely not too old, and you are not too far away from graduation to land a job.

Pound on enough doors and one is going to open for you.

If you want to pick up some jobs on the side that you can work on for your CV/Experience, post yourself on UpWork (used to be odesk) and take some freelance jobs there. You may find that is a preferred way for you to work, because you can do it from your home, and you usually never need to meet the hiring person face-to-face other than on video conference.

I still have a hard time finding good IT people in my industry. (Networks, servers, etc.) I guarantee that if you are good at what you do you will get a job and you will get paid well.

So, 1) Don’t be a pessimist. 2) Sell yourself and what you can do (Don’t focus on your issues) 3) Always remember everyone in the world has issues. Even they person hiring you, their boss and their bosses boss and so on. The only thing to feel ashamed of is not trying your hardest and your best. And it sounds like you’ve focused on yourself and your health to improve it. Use that same motivation and go find a developer job!

Good luck!


As long as you have skills and ability to deliver at your software development work, there is no reason for you to look elsewhere. Most important thing is that software development work should excite you and if you enjoy it then keep at it. You will not be a writing high quality code right from the start but if you keep at it, you will become better and better. Even if you cannot get a job soon then spend that time furthering your skills and doing work that would add value to your resume. Build a name for yourself by participating in online Q&A websites, participating in open source projects, social networking sites, create training videos, writing software components, etc.

If you compromise now and start doing other jobs then coming back will be much more difficult. Age 28 is not old, you are still very young. So many people start their career at this age after doing advanced courses and switching from other areas of work. The fact that you have overcome your disabilities and difficulties associated with it, shows your strength of character and determination in doing what needs to be done. Another big positive of knowing how to develop software is that you can work from anywhere, do freelance work or even just work for yourself and make money from home in case your health situation prohibits you from moving about in future. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

Writing code is not the only job in the software development lifecycle that a CS graduate can do.

  1. If you have good business sense then you can be part of requirements gathering team
  2. If you are meticulous, perfectionist and give attention to details and can handle repetitive work then you can be part of testing team (QA)
  3. If you have good understanding of standards and practices to be followed during software development for example as suggested in CMM then you can be part of QC team.
  4. There are also product specialist roles like a DBA, Performance tester, Version control software for managing builds and deployments, Test case management softwares, etc.
  5. CRM systems
  6. Data analytics and reporting systems
  7. User experience specialist
  8. UI/Graphics Designer
  9. Servers / Network management

Above are just a few that comes immediately to my mind. There is a lot more variety in the kind of job that exist on a given project.

All said and done, I would only recommend that you should do what you enjoy doing and keep moving in that direction irrespective of your age. If you have to odd jobs to survive then do it but do not abandon what you really want to do for it. Who knows, you may be running your own company tomorrow and you will be the one hiring others.

Think big and ideas will come to you!

Good Luck.

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Hi, Interestingly you say you do not understand the suggetsion to “get involved with the community”. Well, just by making this post, you are getting involved with the community. So taking it from there, consider how to get more involved both online, and offline. Try not to be negitive, and dismiss the harsh sugestions about employability and assume that you can get on with an entry level position and work up from there.

Possibly you current problem is with confidance, and thinking about worst case interviews etc. Try to prepare for interviews by getting some help and staging “mock” interviews to build some confidence and experience. Prepare good answers to what are likely questions and you will do a lot betteer than you currently expect. You also have a good story to tell about your journey from graduation, and improving your physical condition. You have kept up with technology, and now need real work experience to carry on your journey in the computing field. So; you should shape the narritive, and not be put down by anticipated negitive reactions.

For getting involved in the “community” there you could look for local meet ups, maybe get invoved online in a topic that strongly interests you and so have some interesting contributions to make. So it would not have to be a complete project for example, as working alone, it is difficult to solve every problem. But if you develop a strategy to work with other people online or in person, that will be better for you. Once you do get a job, however, you might have lesss time for “community” work, and have to focus on your new employers needs. Hope that helps.

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This seems appropriate at this point



You say you have a physical disability. Are there employment programs for disabled workers where you live? If so, consider checking them out to see if they can help you. Also, consider working for a nonprofit.

Depending on your disability, you might find work with the local school district outside of the classroom in administration.

Hope that helps!

I’m no HR professional ( they are your first ‘hurdle’) , but , age CANNOT be used as a factor in hiring decisions. Being 28 years old IS NOT an issue ( technically they can’t even ask your age). They may ask about the time gap and how you have spent it ( this would be the same as having a lapse in employment and is easily handled with an honest discussion on how you have kept up)> the only thing I would see as a true issue would be if you were aim for a position comparable to someone with 5 years experience , but that would be unrealistic.

I was a late bloomer too (and I don’t have any sort or recognizable disability) . I got a degree in graphic design and it wasn’t until 2 years later when I got my first job in the field ( freelanced, worked retail, and even did some DJing). It was only recently did ever get offered a Sr. Design position … and now I am transitioning into web dev. Careers are seldom linear for anybody, so don’t let it weigh you down.

‘You CAN do this. Remember your training and see you on the beach’. :slight_smile:


Hey - never too late to start, especially when you consider how often people change their entire careers.

I’m assuming you live in the States? Maybe try looking at an organization like this: http://www.careeronestop.org/ResourcesFor/WorkersWithDisabilities/workers-with-disabilities.aspx

At the very least it will provide some advice on how to proceed with hiring procedure, and understanding your rights.

Good luck!

Age doesn’t matters in this industry IMO. If people see you know your stuff they will select you.

Don’t get ashamed. Don’t feel bad. Its good to see that you are trying.

Better late than never. 28 is not too old age. You’re still pretty horny hahahahaha

Keep aplying for jobs. Keep building portfolio. Keep giving interviews. Keep learning. Freelancing is there if you want to do it. If the big companies don’t hire you then work for small companies.

Don’t go to Mc Donalds. That experience wont count in this IT industry.

Bbye and love from me

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