Starting Over At 56: A Journey From Consulting To Coding

Daniel Daines-Hutt
Daniel Daines-Hutt
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Changing careers and learning new skills can be intimidating at any stage of life. But what if you were just 11 years away from retirement?

Imagine stepping out of your comfort zone after 23 years in the same field to pursue a newfound passion. Would you have the courage to take that leap?

Today, I’m going to share the story of how one ZTM student did just that, transforming his career and life for the better. His inspiring story shows that it's never too late to follow your dreams and embrace change.

I’ll let him take it from here…

Meet Reiner

Reiner Knudsen profile pic

Hi, my name is Reiner Knudsen, I’m 56 years old and I’m a software developer at CONET Solutions in Bonn, Germany.

conet website

Before that I was a senior consultant, specializing in Microsoft 365 solutions with Power Platform with a focus on Power Apps.

power platform

I still do some consulting also.

How did you get started in tech?

I graduated from Emden Leer University of Applied Sciences back in 1995, as an Industrial Engineer with Software Engineering as my major field of study.

emden leer university of applied sciences

My first job was in consulting at IBM, focusing on object-oriented analysis, software design, and development.

ibm germany

This was the start of where my consulting career took off.

I found the analysis part more interesting than the software development, but I never left software engineering behind. So, whenever I saw a possibility to create a potential software solution to a problem, I would try.

I taught myself coding in VBA for MS Excel and discovered the potential of Microsoft Power Apps. I realized I loved creating software and generating immediate results with my work, and Power Apps help me make that happen fast.

What was the goal or outcome you were hoping for from joining ZTM?

I wanted to learn more about modern software development, and so I decided to dive into JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. My goal was to create independent software solutions for personal use.

I learned how to do this, and then further leveraged these skills to secure my current position at CONET 😃.

Did you check out any other platforms or learning options before joining?

I knew that YouTube wouldn’t work for me, simply because of the lack of structure and the countless video options are overwhelming.

I decided to look around for bootcamps and online platforms, and then I found ZTM.


My initial hope was to find a curriculum that would focus on the important parts of web development while also providing ample exercises for what I had learned.

It didn’t take me long after finding you guys, to see that ZTM offered exactly what I needed.

Did you have any hesitations or doubts before joining?

There was a few things.

I hesitated when I saw the price tag as I’m in Europe so theres an exchange rate difference, but I figured I wouldn’t make proper progress if I wasn’t willing to invest in my future.

My biggest concern though was that I would fail, and I kept running over questions in my mind:

  • Would I understand what this all was about?
  • Would I be able to grasp the concepts of software development for the web?
  • Is it possible for me to apply the things I learned to real-world scenarios?
  • Could I follow through and complete this? (I have a tendency to start things with enthusiasm and then not complete them, and I was worried this would happen here also)

I typically require a sense of accomplishment swiftly to maintain my motivation. Remote learning is another major challenge for me, too, since it’s on me to motivate myself and keep me going.

I wasn’t confident in my capability to rely on myself to handle this challenge, but I decided to give it a try anyway.

Editor’s note: These are actually common issues that we’ve talked about before, and it’s why we take this all into consideration. In fact, we build for it to help you succeed:

  • By having to pay for training, you’re more likely to stick to it and follow through when you learn
  • This of course also helps us to provide consistently updated information, so the course content is all relevant and helps you get hired ASAP
  • All of our content is action focused. You build as you learn, so that you grasp concepts easier, while also building a portfolio for employers
  • We have a large community to help you stick to your course. One of our first tasks is to help you set up an accountability buddy also, so that you can help hold each other accountable
  • You also have direct access to our instructors in that private community, so you can ask them questions, as well as other students and working professionals

Anyways, back to Reiner and his story…

I started the “Complete Web Developer” course, and the first two weeks were like walking on clouds.

become a web developer

All of my fears and doubts were gone.

This was totally different to my experiences in the past, and I just couldn’t stop learning. Section by section, I worked through the curriculum, until I created my first apps which did a lot more than saying “Hello world”.

web dev projects

This is partly due to the course content. Andrei has a calm and detailed approach to teaching which made it effortless for me to concentrate and grasp the course content.

I never felt that I had to force myself to learn either, and every single lesson was great fun for me.

In fact, I looked forward to the lessons and challenges of my course every day. Sometimes I studied for 6 or 8 hours straight because I simply couldn’t stop, and I finished the entire course curriculum and projects in just 2 months!

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe the growth I experienced, and what I achieved in such a brief period. I also realized this was what I wanted to do in the future. Building websites and applications just brought me so much joy 😁.

At that point, I wanted to go on and learn more. The problem was “what do I learn next?”.

I knew I didn’t yet want to dig deeper into backend or infrastructure development but wanted to stay with frontend for the time being, so, I chose the “From Junior to Senior Software Developer” as my second course.

become a senior developer

What steps did you take to get hired, and what helped you the most actually to get your job offer?

I got in touch with the software development department of the company I work in and consult for.

I talked to people and shared with them my passion for my recently discovered career. Everybody was supportive, and I got the chance to get my new capabilities to work with a project test.

The project they put me on required knowledge of SvelteKit, which I didn’t know and ZTM doesn’t teach yet. However, I taught myself and picked it up very quickly, thanks in part to my knowledge of JavaScript after taking Andrei’s course.

I finished the project and got hired into the department!

Now that you have your new position, how do you feel?

Amazing! I’m now 6 months into the project and i’m learning a lot.

My mentor is a 25-year-old developer (31 years younger than me), but we work together as equals to find solutions to problems. He also helps motivate me to figure out my own solutions and provides helpful and usually uplifting feedback. This is great for building confidence.

It feels like the first time in my entire career that I absolutely love what I am doing. Friday nights come around and I’m looking forward to going back to work on Monday morning.

Choosing this path changed my life!

I may be in the last quarter of my career, but for me, this step is a key component in making my life more worth living.

I can use my energy, my passion and my capacities exactly where I want to. I can create things that make a real difference to people. That is the central drive of my life. With software development, I have finally found the right fuel 😄.

Is there a big difference in earnings in this new role from what you made before?

Although I’m technically a Junior Developer, I’m on a senior salary - thanks in part to my years of experience, as we all my years at the company in a consulting role.

Editor’s note: Having complimentary skills like this is such a huge bonus for companies.

Reiner not only has dev skills now, but he also understands the customer and their goals, as well as has years of experience dealing with them. No wonder they gave him this senior pay - he’s probably not far off jumping into a more actual senior role already.

What advice would you give other students who may have been in your position and are now considering joining the ZTM Academy?

It’s never too late to start. Do the scary thing today, and know that you can make it happen.

ZTM’s teachers are focused on helping you make that change and improve, and you can see it in their courses and content. They’re here to help, but you need to take action.

You can do this!

So what are you waiting for? Be like Reiner and change your career

Thinking of starting a career in Web Development, or even upgrading your current skills for a new role, but not sure where to start?

Well, why not take the exact same courses?

become a web developer

Once you join, you have access to every course in the Zero To Mastery Academy library, so that’s every course in this article and many more.

Not only that, but you’ll get access to the ZTM private Discord community, where you can ask questions from your course teachers, as well as chat with other students and working Web Development professionals and freelancers!

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain, so get started today.

It doesn’t matter if it's the first step to a new career, the next step, or if you’ve worked in the same career for decades and want to take that leap like Reiner - we can help make it happen.

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