Legendary Apple Engineer Gets Rejected For Genius Bar Job

Image: Getty/Shutterstock
Image: Getty/Shutterstock

This weekend’s New York Times op-ed about the ageism people over 50 face in the workplace includes a charming anecdote via JK Scheinberg, the esteemed Apple engineer who got Mac OS running on Intel processors.

A little restless after retiring in 2008, at 54, he figured he’d be a great fit for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar, despite being twice as old as anyone else at the group interview. “On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,’ ” he said. “I never heard back.”

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Although Apple customers would’ve been lucky to have Scheinberg as their tech support, we can at least rest easy knowing the famed engineer wanted the job more as a hobby than as a way to earn money.

The op-ed also called for age diversity in the workplace, pointing out that women face discrimination in the workplace starting at the tender age of 32, when they begin getting passed over for promotions, widening the pay gap.

An information architect who got a job at a tech start-up at 55 described how alienating the age gap was between her and her coworkers. She quit after her boss told her, “You sound just like my mother” during an argument.

Age discrimination has much more sinister consequences, especially in the United States, where most of the elderly can’t solely rely on social security for their income.

How do we fix this problem? Throw away your prejudices and befriend the olds.

[NYTimes via 9 to 5 Mac]

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Eve Peyser was the night editor at Gizmodo.

DISCUSSION

igetpwnedoften
IGetPwnedOften

When I worked at EA I was considerably older than nearly everyone else in the department, and certainly the oldest of my peers. In the majority of cases, I was literally old enough to be their father.

During the interview, I was asked if I would have a problem taking instructions from someone half my age, to which I responded “As long as what I’m being told to do makes sense, I don’t care who tells me to do it”.

The funny thing is, because of a variety of factors including age, the way I dressed (I was the only person of 800 in the building who wore a suit and tie every day) and the fact that I came from a very successful career, quite a large number of people I dealt with in other departments simply assumed I ran the department, a fact I didn’t pick up on until I was introduced to a visiting VP as the director of my department. I started laughing and everyone wondered what was so funny. When I said I didn’t run the place, the look on their faces was priceless; “Oh,” said one, “I thought you ran the place.”

“When did I say that?” I replied.

“Well, never. We just assumed you did...”

Fortunately, everyone saw the funny side of it, especially the visiting VP.

Employing older people, especially for skilled roles, is well worth considering as many will have literally a lifetime of experience to pass on to your other employees. Any potential employer who doesn’t see this is, quite frankly, an idiot.