markdown guide
 

I started out doing tech support.

From there I worked my way up to developer support (helping developers integrate with our API) which had me realize that I wasn't happy just supporting devs, I wanted to be a dev.

 

Oddly, I've wondered if moving into a tech support like role would be helpful in my developer career.

🤔

 

It will surely help you if you are allowed to debug in deep.
Rather just giving pre documented answers.

:-)

 

I definitely feel like having that background helped me in my developer career, it gives me an empathy towards the end-used that I find many devs lack.

 

I held several jobs that were not development-related.

My very first job, at the age of 16 (1983), was to teach programming to non-technical people. This was not the best job for a 16-year-old, and I failed miserably.

In the late 1980s, I took a job at a brokerage firm as a Computer Operator. This lasted a year or so before I got into their developer training program.

Finally, around 2006 or 2007, out of necessity, I took a position at the same brokerage firm as an Application Deployment Specialist, which involved scripting deployments into their staging and production environments. I was able to add a development angle to this position, through some automation of the role.

All other positions during my 33-year career have been development, manager, and architect positions. I would not change a thing.

 

I was a system and database engineer. That job had me as more of a system administrator than a dev...turns out....development still needed to happen and who did they turn to? points emphatically at self

 

My first job out of college was managing and vetting collaborative tools for use inside the company - instant messaging, live webcasting, web conferencing, eLearning, etc. Once a tool was selected, I'd develop implementation/deployment plans and documentation which required coordination with other IT depts like Security, Architecture, Help Desk, Desktop (in cases where the software had to be installed on all employee machines).

I also worked in accessibility. There was a group that hired mostly hard-of-hearing/deaf employees, so I helped deploy an application that converted text to ASL for them, and devices that allowed employees with cochlear implants to listen to live webcasts and learning modules because traditional headphones would interfere with their implants.

After that, I worked for an accounting firm managing the live webcasting tools and services internally and externally. This was the most challenging because there were so many moving parts and dependencies. For one, video was a such a huge burden on the network, so the Network team hated us =). But we'd work with them to deploy internal CDN technologies from Cisco, Riverbed, etc. I got to work directly with the executives in the company, learned about audio/video production, learned how to work under pressure and troubleshoot in real-time.

In hindsight, these experiences helped me a lot by understanding how end users use and learn new technologies that are presented to them without much choice really, and also how companies procure technologies for internal use.

 

Non-dev IT jobs for me were:

  • Internet technical support for Bell, a Canadian ISP. I definitely had some interesting phone calls. I’m sure anyone who has done technical support has war stories as well.
  • software installer for automotive software. Basically I’d go to garages and car dealers and install software that allowed them to order parts. It was Windows based software, so usually when things went wrong, it was a registry fix. regedit.exe forever baby! 😉
 
  • Systems administrator: your classic "keep *nix systems running" type of gig.
  • Systems engineer: mostly building clusters, both for redundancy and performance. This was before cloud computing and containers were a thing.
  • Penetration tester: your classic "break into *nix systems" type of gig.
  • IT journalist: my main job during uni was writing for various publications, mostly about Linux and web technologies.
 

Built and repaired computers for a mom and pop computer shop whose primary clientele were small and medium sized businesses. Data center analyst and technician. Systems administrator (Unix and Linux). General technology consultant.

I did programming on the side for all of these jobs. Mainly I wrote small tools and data aggregators/transformers.

 

Abattoir - carrying pigs off hooks onto hooks in back of lorry, and pushing half cow carcasses on hooks down rails.

Some factory that made amongst other things wheelchairs. My temp job was sweeping floor and moving stuff.

Pie factory - putting bits of pastry into slots in a conveyer belt, injecting gell into pork pies and lifting trays from one rack to another.

After that, majority of time as a multimedia developer, technical designer and automation testing.

 

One of my many duties was to support cisco switches, so I guess that qualifies as IT.

Anything from configuring switches to troubleshooting issues, to updating firmware, etc. Seemed pretty cool to me.

If I ever need to setup a managed switch at home, I am trained to do it lol.

By the way if anyone is interested in learning cisco stuff for free, just sign up for a free account, and then google for packet tracer labs.

netacad.com/courses/packet-tracer

 

I have had an internship position called “IT Attestation” for three months in a public accounting firm. Unfortunately I hated every second of it because it doesn’t provide any sort of technical growth or career development path. I got the returning offer that year, but ... nah, I politely rejected, and dashed out of the door when no one is looking 🤪

Two things in the internship that killed this path for me:

  • I built a very basic web page with a random number generator that suggests lunches for the team. That’s it; it took a day. My teammates were shocked: “ wow I know you study computer science but I didn’t you can do that!?”. They might be business-style nice to me or they really have no clue how less effort that is. I immediately know I have already reached the top of technical growth in the intern, sadly.
  • The director tried to convince me to accept the offer this way: “here you have the opportunity to learn what other companies’ technical systems; isn’t that fun and challenging? I came from an engineer background. If you choose an engineer path, all that you do is to sit there, take order and focus on one thing. Don’t you find it boring?” Nah, it was bitter. As a software engineer, I got so much to deal with nowadays, with all different teams, on multiple projects. The most critical difference is: in public accounting, yes you are learning all kinds of systems but you build nothing; in software engineering we are actually creating stuff to make others’ life a bit better each day.

Saying no was a super easy decision.

Frankly speaking, it was nice to dive into my accounting/finance friends’ world a little bit. I sort of understand how/why they need to talk, work, dress and perform in certain ways. This was also learning ;)

 

Apparently, retail marketing is my JAM.

Currently I'm basically creating the marketing department at the store I'm at - this includes social media, graphic design, building a website, in house marketing, working on the floor... and everything changes week to week and its INSANE. But I'm good at it, and for some reason I enjoy it.

It's a weird one, for sure. But it's what I'm doing. :P

 

I interned on a hardware support/sysadmin team for one of the largest logistics companies on Earth. It was pretty difficult but really fun.

At the same company, I also interned on a "Business Intelligence" team, which was kind of like a step between working on a dev team and a data science team. A lot of web portals, SQL reports, and ETL work.

After that, I worked as a pseudo-DBA at a different logistics company.

Somewhere in between those jobs I started writing JavaScript and did some PHP and Python development for an ecommerce company (they paid $8/hr). I dropped out of college and went on to full-time software development about 8 months after that!

 
  • Construction Worker

  • Call Center Employee (most miserable ever)
    This was definitely the worst job I ever did. But I had the option to work part-time here, I could focus on studies, started doing full-time software development not long after I took this job :)

  • Band Worker at Ford Factory (I left after a few weeks)

 

I started as an Operations Specialist for an ad tech company, then did support engineering, then software configuration management. All at the same company in less than 2 years. I've been a software developer ever since leaving. Looking back, it was interesting to see other pieces of the technical pie and how they fit together.

 

System Admin. DevOps. Manager. Network admin. Mentor. Architect. DBA.

Most of those I still do in some fashion or another; I like wearing multiple hats.

My first tech job prior to even thinking about being a dev: Help desk for a mammography clinic when I was 17. Did excel stuff, printers, scanned in xrays for them, moved physical folders of mammograms and other medical images, ran misc errands too.

 

In uni, I was a part of the help desk as a work-study gig. Since it was "industry" experience, it paid minimum wage. But it was mostly troubleshooting network issues (the building was old and had very thick walls; here's your complementary ethernet cable) or hardware issues (cleaning out a Macbook that had chocolate milk spilt on it) for the other students in my dorm for 30 hours a week.

 

Grocery Stocker
Ice Bagger
Floor Waxer
About ten restaurants, mostly serving/training
Dog Washer
Doggie Daycare Operator
Cinema Employee (one shift)
Shoe Salesman (a few weeks)
Merchandise Assembler
Military Musician and all the Soldiering jobs that come along
Audio/Lighting Engineer

I owned a business renting motorcycles to a training course in upstate NY, and I have some financial licenses that make it legal for me to protect families from predatory life insurance.

 

I first started out as a Tele Sale Representative in a Call Center. Our main goal was to sell as many energy contracts as possible and it was a s*it show. Dialing and dialing and dealing with frustrated customers was a nightmare. You had to have 300 minutes of calls per day to get full salary at the end of the month and believe me, it is way harder than it sounds.

 

Flight Simulator Manufacturing

Flight Simulator IO Specialist

Electrical Design Specialist

Technical SME (Subject Matter Expert), trainer, tech support, and certified Xerox tech on USMC tactical deployables

DISH Field Tech/Installer

CenturyLink I&R (Installation and Repair) Lead Tech


I was primarily HW w/ some software for a decade. Now 100% software.

 

My first income was from cleaning the graves when I was 10. I still remember I got paid around 50cent / each grave.

Recently, I was studying programming while working in the kitchen, and luckily I can escape that shit. Don't get me wrong, I respect chef and culinary jobs, but not this job. It was literally slavery in the modern world.

 

My first job was in Fresh Produce. Stacking fruit and veg in the grocery area and preparing them for display. Use to have to just off the bottom of the iceberg lettuces because it took the bad outer leaves off and made them look a lot better for sale.

I left that job to work in an IT shop sweeping floors and cleaning bins. I eventually started doing tech work there to fill the time and admin work (balancing the books, banking, mail). After being a tech I ended up briefly (couple of months) filling the workshop manager role (making sure work got done and customers were called).

My longest non-tech job has got to be in Children's Entertainment. My aunt ran a business and needed someone to balloon twist so I helped her out one weekend. And then kept working for her for the following 7 years. Work was casual and seasonal. There would be months of no work followed by a full on weekend and then no work again. I also did bouncy castles, fairy floss and glitter tattoos. I was working for my aunt up until I moved cities earlier this year.

I worked as an offsider for my dad on his building site one year during the winter and summer uni breaks. I had to get my construction whitecard before I was allowed to start, but now can legally work on building sites! In winter we were putting up the roof trusses during a rainstorm, so were constantly getting drenched. That summer we were up to putting up the tin roof on the 40 degree days with no shade. The house was really well insulated, so even after getting only half the roof on, the inside of it was nice and cool.

I did another stint at a small grocery. They hired me to work evenings in fresh produce and work towards being the night manager, but instead gave me the morning deli shift. I didn't stay there long.

 

I've been everything in catering from busboy to Maitre'D on the floor. I've been a journalist (still am). Professional Editor. Fiction writer (hdwp.com/r/cdb). Ran an RPG club professionally. A couple-few other jobs.

 

I was a Salesperson at a gift and novelty shop - the pay sucked, and the boss was pretty mean, but I really enjoyed chatting with folks to learn about their loved ones and matching them to a lovely gift.

 

Full time reporter for news service UPI. I've been dining out on the skills I picked up as a reporter for 30+ years: critical listening, skeptical thinking, being able to switch contexts really fast, and writing. Writing is your primary skill as developer.

 

Hello from a fellow former journalist! I was only a reporter for six years but my path led to technical writing. I was surprised by how many skills were transferrable (interviewing, concise writing, rapidly learning and explaining complex subjects).

 

Cool topic 😊
I guess that some people always been riding the IT wave (in some form) i think its cool to know what non-IT jobs people who are now developers have had.
For example i used to be a journalist, before that i worked in a hospital, before that army medic, teacher-sub, layouter for print (newspaper and books), video editor, sailor and lots of other weird jobs. And i dont think my background is that unique i the world of devs

 

I was an executive and dignitary protection specialist and later corporate director of security and safety for companies including Turner at CNN Center and The Omni. If you told me then I'd be in the tech industry I really would have chuckled.

 

Email development usually sits with marketing, but there are some elements of IT/tech support.

If an email launch has a usual number of bounces or undelivered emails, it's on me to take a first look to see what might have happened. Then, it's usually escalated to ESP support or internal IT support depending on org structure.

 

Fun topic, Ben! I did tech support on internet service for Comcast for a few years, and I worked in IT for a public school system for about 6 years. We were networking engineers and did service and support for the computers, although the job titles were pretty generic.

 

I'm currently living the...er...dream?!

I started my career in backend web development; eventually settling into a tech lead role with a small web agency. Yay, ColdFusion! (Oh, how I do miss those simpler times.)

The second half of my career has been in higher-ed IT, with responsibilities so varied that I've labeled myself an "applied IT Jack-of-all-trades". I do my best to maintain a developer mindset; however, hands-on dev comprises only a tiny portion of my week-to-week taskings:

  • Traditional LAMP-stack dev; CRUD widgets; database design
  • Critique mockups from graphic designer; HTML/CSS refinement; CMS templating
  • ETL; data sync between disparate database systems; basic BI reporting
  • Web software administration and end-user support: CMS, LMS (Moodle), and other purpose-driven packages (eg. PKP Open Journal Systems, Springshare LibGuides)
  • Web content moderation, analytics/stats, and other assorted "webmaster" tasks
  • Digital signage; implementation and content prep
  • Administer shared DVCS (GitLab CE); advocate heavily for its use (a lot of folk work in isolation and don't feel that they "need" version control *grumble*)
  • Retiring in-house legacy applications; Flash content migration (using Twine+Sugarcube for some of this work); cleaning up neglected file servers
  • Web content curation; training staff on CMS software; enforcing brand and design standards
  • Consulting; distilling folks' ideas into actionable plans; translating technical concerns into plain-English for non-tech folk
  • Dabble in digital accessibility and data privacy initiatives
  • Sharepoint; issue tracking; running interference between non-tech staff and other IT units
  • I'm a desktop Linux user in a Microsoft-centric world; blessing and curse of picking apart edge-case issues with MS web products
  • But that doesn't stop folk from asking for Windows and OSX help--printer problems, One Drive and Skype being frequent problems

Now halfway through my work career, I've got the itch to return to the development world in some capacity. I've been an IT generalist for too long! :)

 

Almost everything, all at once.

My current job is running IT (literally all of it except for a couple of special situations that are managed by specific other people, like the inventory database server being handled by the accounting manager).

In addition to some software development work (both for production systems we ship out, and internal stuff), this includes, among other things:

  • Regular systems administration.
  • Systems engineering (designing and building software and hardware stacks for internal use, mostly servers).
  • Network operations (albeit really simple compared to normal netops since we have a rather simple internal network by most standards).
  • Internal tech support.
  • Highly specialized external tech support (the systems we build and ship out run Linux, and I'm the Linux expert where I work, so most stuff that isn't our software gets punted to me to figure out).
  • Managing backups and data archives, and data retention for all of our servers, production data, and most user systems.
 

I worked at one of my city's first ISPs (Internet provider). I did billing & customer service.

It was neat to be part of bringing people their first ever internet access.

But I also saw first hand how all the big companies bought up the little ones & the monopoly formed. In my case we were bought by Primus. A big payday for my boss... but not great for our customers.

 

I m an IT support dealing with users' It problems..and at the same time dealing with the IT infrastructure. As my actual company doesn't fit me and my tasks are actually not technical at all, so I ve decided to train myself in development... Not easy to be honest but I keep going as I like it!

 

I worked in my college's computer labs, checking people in and out, and helping them use software.

At the company where I got my first dev job, I started out in tech support, and did that for a year or so before transferring into the engineering department. I'd been doing (non-IT) phone-based customer service for a bank before that, which probably helped me get the tech support job.

I'm not sure if data entry counts, but I had a couple of those jobs during and after college.

 

Retail & cashier at the parking office of my alma-matter.

Ironically, the parking job got me interested in long term development, because in service of my duties, I made an Access database that kept track of Appeals meetings, decisions, scheduling, etc. Was even split between front & back ends to let me work from the front counter workstations as well as my desk in back.

I was given a commendation from the police chief for my ingenuity. Then when a coworker was struggling at a mail merge for something else that I used to do, I realized that my existing DB could be thinned down and modified in less than a week to automate most of the tedium of that process.

For that, I was written up and threatened with being fired for having gone above my pay grade, doing the work of a "developer" when I was being paid less than an assistant manager of a popular video game pawn shop.

In my defense, I took the commendation as encouragement and was just using MS Office as our organization had a site license, and the previous mail merges were all done with a table in a Word doc instead of an Excel sheet…

Before leaving, I also was able to document the entire function of my DB and the appeal clerk's process, which likely also threatened the manager of the department, who had also chastised the whole office for not being keenly aware of the diffs in the parking rules book, despite none of us knowing that changes could even be made between years or by whomst.

 

My first IT job was supporting POS systems on Windows NT and XP, you'd be surprised how many retail systems still run on Windows NT.

 

I began my carrer as an parking lot cashier.

 

Network Engineering.

We get to plug things together and make sure all the blinky lights blink. Then build some crazy stuff that transports terabits of data each second.

 

I've done first, second and third line support which lead to development.

 
 

I use to be a math teacher for students in difficulties at my Uni. Taught me to explain things and think in a different way.

 

I was a car mechanics before going into IT as Application Manager then changed into Development.

 

I am a nanny
Have been a nanny for the last 8 years and before that just had some odd jobs.

Btw if anyone has any tips in how to convert nanny experience into a dev resume let me know 😂

 

My current one is as much helpdesk and admin as developer, if not more so.

When the whole tech team is you, it kinda goes that way...

 

I used to climb cell phone towers after I left the army. A truly rough experience that was short lived.

 
  • 3 yrs phone support w/ Dell. SMB, CBG, Federal, Server, and dispatch call queues.
 

Hmmmm... I worked as a waiter, retail electronics salesman, programming instructor for kids & adults, online pitch facilitator for startups.

 
 

Car washer, mechanic helper... Started from the bottom now we're here 🤘

 

I began my career as a counselor and an administrator for a computer education firm. Does this count?

 

Same here, I have not had a IT job outside development, The only non software engineering job I’ve had, was at a McDonald’s as a crew member than a crew Trainer.

Classic DEV Post from May 10

Discuss: GitHub Special Event

GitHub is holding a "GitHub Special Event" today. Let's discuss what we're thinking leading up to it + while it's happening <3

Ben Halpern profile image
A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.

😓 Sore eyes?

dev.to now has a dark version (in public beta).

Go to the "misc" section of your settings and select night theme ❤️