Dude slipped up. Note that it's not "learning ... and working in this ... industry" but "learning ... to work in this ... industry." It's a sad admission that he still hasn't gotten the job he wants after decades of learning.
It took John decades to learn c++ ???
gosh, I would have thought an abandoned half a journalism degree would have gotten him up to speed on C++
maybe all the ambien made him sleep through the C++ lectures that journalism is known for