Jacqueline Catala, 52: There Is So Much Opportunity In Tech For Everyone

For those of us interested in working in tech but fearing it's too late, Jacqueline Catala has a reassuring message and helpful resources for getting there. She also discusses her tech career, getting married for the first time at 50, and investing in her future.

Careers in tech are generally assumed to be only for young people, and maybe only for men. At the age of 52, Jacqueline is a testament that this is not always the case. In fact, she sees massive opportunities in tech these days that are not being filled. For anyone looking to make a change in career, this is a profile you will want to read.

For Jacqueline, life is all about quickly making the right decisions and then acting on them. Sometimes we need to have lived a while before the right answers appear to us. At the age of 50, she was married for the first time because for the first time in her life it just felt right. Then she and her husband moved to Florida, after spending decades in California — a decision that happened more or less overnight. It just felt like the right thing to do. She was sure of it, just as she is sure about the future of tech for anyone who wants to join it.

What sort of career opportunities are there in tech these days?
Robots and computers are replacing everything. So if I was a young person or if I was transitioning to a new career, I would look into being a programmer — their job is to teach the computer what to do. People are teaching themselves to code online and there are lots of courses that you can take to get a job like that. You can also learn smaller languages like Python in a class that only takes a couple of weeks. Things go really fast in tech. You have to be willing to constantly push and grow. But there is a lot of money there. 

“You wouldn’t believe the success stories that come out of simple online courses of people changing careers and becoming successful”

People assume that they can’t do something because of something else. “I can’t learn something new because I’m 50.” “I can’t learn technology, it’s too hard.” But you have to remove that assumption. Just try and see what happens. You wouldn’t believe the success stories that come out of simple online courses of people changing careers and becoming successful. It can be done. The need for people working in tech is far far greater than the people available to do the work. It’s crazy; only a small percentage of the jobs out there are being filled, and companies are desperate to get people who can do this work. (Below is a list of resources to get you started.)

If you understand what blockchain is, or Web 3.0, and I am not talking about being able to build it, just having a good understanding of what it is and how it can be used, then your existing skill set becomes extremely valuable to these new companies. For instance, if you are in accounting and you have a good grasp of what Web 3.0 is, then you become highly desirable to a company in that space because you will be speaking the same language as them. Don’t underestimate how important that is inside a fast-moving company. Working in tech doesn’t have to mean engineering or programming.

“Working in tech doesn’t have to mean engineering or programming”

In tech, is it more of a meritocracy or do you see ageism?
I haven’t seen it; I’m sure it’s there but in my space I’m a little isolated. I work with people of all ages and certain areas in tech tend to be younger. For example, the app space tends to be younger. The telecom space, the space that I’m in, tends to be older. 

You’re a woman in technology. Do you find any sort of gender challenges there?
I don’t and that may be because of my area of technology. I don’t see it. But I also don’t see it in other areas like coding. They’re desperate for women. I hear about it and I’ve even been to some lectures where they’ll have a panel of women from Microsoft or wherever and they’ll talk about being treated differently but I have no idea what they’re talking about. 

I have always been very good at my job and very focused and maybe I just don’t notice. I have been in meetings where someone assumed that I was my boss’ secretary until I opened my mouth and they were like, “Oh, she’s not his secretary” because I know what I’m talking about. 

The only thing I am careful of is inviting a male colleague to drinks. You can take them to lunch but anything later than that is weird. 

“Being married is something that I couldn’t have done when I was younger”

You’ve gotten married since we last spoke. What’s that like?
I love being someone’s wife. I have never been someone’s wife and I love when he calls me his wife. It just makes me feel special every time I hear it because I admire him very much and he admires me very much. We are equal partners in this relationship. We both have careers, we both are very strong people, and we both adore each other. 

Being married is something that I couldn’t have done when I was younger. But I’m mature enough now to be able to really dig into it and get the most benefit out of it. We’re not going to have kids so now it’s just thinking of what we can do together. That’s cool and fun. What business can we invest in or what activities can we do or how can we just enjoy each other? When you’re 30 and get married, you theoretically have 50 or 60 years together but we theoretically don’t have that long. So I just want to be with him all the time. 

How old were you when you got married?

Why did you move from California to Florida?
It was an unplanned accident. We were locked down in our beautiful apartment in downtown LA but we couldn’t take advantage of anything for four months and I needed to be able to take a walk after work. With the onset of COVID, my work just exploded — I work in telecom, the technology that allowed for remote everything. So I was working hard from early morning until late at night and I never left the apartment and I was going crazy. We drove to Florida on a whim, where we were just going to take a 2-week break. We rented a beach house and stayed for two months. I walked on the beach at night. With the state taxes and the lifestyle, we decided we might want to stay. 

The good thing about my husband and I is we make decisions very quickly and we tend to agree on the decisions. It was definitely a wild ride of quick decisions and we are very flexible because we have no kids, pets, or plants. So we aren’t tied down. 

“I’m investing in the future the way that I should have done when I was 25”

What’s your ambition for the next five years?
In the next five years, I want to really crush it as far as building up the financial reserves. I’m heavily invested in what some people would consider very risky things, but I believe in technology. And hopefully in five years that will all bloom and I’ll have the option of retiring from this job. I might like to be on some board of directors or maybe try a different area of technology. They call it the golden handcuffs in my industry because you can’t make good money doing what we do and you don’t really want to walk away from it. At some point, I wouldn’t mind being in some leadership positions. 

It’s a little vague, as I don’t have goals like wanting to run a triathlon tomorrow. Right now I’m focused on building. My husband is too. So hopefully this is a time of gathering resources and then we can really do what we want. He wants to produce movies, I’m waiting to see what the future holds. I’m investing in the future the way that I should have done when I was 25. 

What are three non-negotiables in your life?
Sleep. I don’t function when I don’t sleep. 

-Staying fit. It’s going to sound really vain but I like clothes too much and want to stay fit!

-My husband. I wouldn’t want to lose my husband. I know that’s a weird non-negotiable but it took me 50 years to find him. I intend to keep this person. 

-To not stay stagnant. I want to keep pushing the envelope and sometimes that’s uncomfortable but I really want to continue to engage with the world and the up and coming things. 

Links for Tech Training and Careers

Here are some links that Jacqueline suggested for those interested in tech work:
If you like math and accounting, you actually have the skill set for some additional jobs outside of coding that are very in demand, like “Data Analyst”.

An example of Web3 jobs — this is a brand new area and just starting to grow:

Here are some links to some examples of schools you can check out. Some are pay as you go, some are “learn now, pay later” philosophy.  All of them teach you the exact skills you need. Once you get an idea of what these are, you can google and find other options.

For beginners:

It is easy to learn very basic coding, women-focused, they guarantee you a job, very short/inexpensive for $1-2K and you will have a job.

A good place to start to learn some basic skills and then have a job in tech where you can gain experience and grow. You can get a job quickly and then train for something bigger while you are working.

$0 tuition until you get a job.

16 weeks training to get a job.

No tuition until you get a job.

Start with no coding experience, become a fully-fledged coding expert.

Pay no tuition until you are hired.

4-month program, coming to Tampa/St Pete for the first time.

Coding University

Easy-to-follow coding curriculum, do lessons on your lunch break. This one costs money, but good program.

POMP is a podcaster. He offers a forum to meet people, create a community, and get a job in crypto. Good networking, not expensive.

Learn to code for free, unguided trainings mostly.

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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