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At what age did you get your first dev job?

ari_o profile image Arika O ・1 min read

I got my first position as a front-end developer when I was 33, having no previous real experience or a background in computer science. Getting job ready was a lot of hard work, meaning I had to learn during the evening/ night, after coming home from my full time job. Was it worth it? Definitely!

How old were you when you landed your first development (technology) role?

Image source: James Harrison/ @jstrippa on Unsplash

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Mike Talbot

I was 15 when I started my first game development business and sold some games - on the BBC Micro! We used to advertise them in a couple of the magazines and ended up selling all over the world. Though not without mistakes - once we managed to duplicate a bunch of cassettes without quality control and it was just me and my friend talking - those came back from South Africa... Ouch

When I was 17 I got a game commercially published by Masteronic. Storm (originally on the Amstrad 464) went on to sell more than 300,000 copies which was something in 1985/6. I started a business off the back of that.

When I started as CTO at Alcumus in 2018 one of my team had that game in their collection. I'm officially an antique.

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Arika O Author

:) wow, you started at such young age. Interesting path.

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Mike Talbot

Yeah it's been a roller coaster :) Lived in 6 countries, visited 65+ - Programming has been good to me!

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Sebastian

Sweet 17. I was still at school. Programming my first web shop for a local company selling kitchen furniture. The entire thing worked on IE and Netscape with lots of brittle JS. But at least the desktop was all I had to test it on (no mobile devices, they hardly existed).

I remember I had a hard time scanning their catalogs (because they couldn't give me any files) and optimizing the pictures for what was according to today's standards a slow internet.

JS drove me nuts (no web standards), layout was based on tables (again, no web standards) and style sheets were erratic at best (again, no web standards -- anyone recognizes a pattern here?).

Back then I had read my first book and experimented on HTML4, JS and VBScript. I remember going online was charged per minute. So I worked offline for most of the time. Hosting was expensive with little to no support of dynamic content. The only help I could get from like-minded developers came from a German HTML "wiki" called SelfHTML. And I believe my requests were online in some forums up to a few years ago.

Back then I had totally underestimated the work apart from work: taxes, contracts, ... But heck was I proud of myself 😅 Those were the days.

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Arika O Author

I hear legends about a time when layout was achieved using tables (TABLES!!!). I can't even imagine how things were back then, but websites weren't so complicated as they are today so maybe tables weren't so bad?

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Sebastian

Back then mentality was different. Tables were not ideal, and they were certainly not intended for solving layout issues. But they worked remarkably well for layouts. This, though, says more about the insufficiencies of CSS and HTML back in the days than about the marvels of tables.

To be fair, a great deal of the mess back then was caused by browser incompatibilities and their huge variation in interpretation of markup and stylesheets.

Luckily, we saw the web standards movement kick in early enough to mitigate these problems. A HUGE THANKS to Zeldman, Meyer (An Event Apart) and other pioneers of web standards 👌. We owe them so much!

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barzi92367868 profile image
Barzi

What about frames, do you remember them? 😂

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Artem Petrusenko

I do remember lol 😂 my first site when I was in school used frames 😂😂😂2007 year

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Sharad Raj (He/Him)

I miss old days

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Dmitrii Pashutskii

At 30, exactly 3.5 years ago (thanks Linkedin :)

I was struggling with IT jobs for a long time but most of them were technical support or administration which honestly didn't help me when I start learning to code.
It was definitely the best desition of my life and I'm still so happy about this turn.

PS After writing it I felt nostalgic so I started to write the post about how I landed in the programming field, thank you for the inspiration!

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Aza

the weirdest thing is when recruiters from your linkedin contacts start sending you "happy birthday" messages.

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Dmitrii Pashutskii

That's weird indeed :)

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Arika O Author

I will check out your post, thx for sharing :)!

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Dmitrii Pashutskii

Thanks! I'll probably repost in on dev as well.

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Benito van der Zander

When I was twelve years old, I wrote games and the local library bought them .

That was also the last time I got paid a non-trivial amount for programming, since I started doing open-source afterwards.

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Jesse

26, which is currently how old I am :D I was a technical writer before, so I knew how to program, but development is new. Took some time for me to get here; people say getting the first dev job is the hardest!

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Arika O Author

I hope that's the case (getting the first job being the hardest) because it was quite hard to get it :). Can some of the articles you wrote before becoming a developer be found anywhere?

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Jesse

I appreciate the interest!

I primarily wrote user documentation for a proprietary programming language, which is large in scope (it's a very interesting approach to information architecture, which was another part of the job!) but there are some blog posts floating around that I was asked to write 😃 like this one on image processing using JunoCam space images; this is a more market-y flavor of technical writing, but I learned a lot!

I used to write a lot more before being hired professionally as a writer...now that I'm in development...I'm kind of missing the writing! 😂 So I've been working on a side project to get a more current blog up and going (I'm using Pelican) next step is creating whatever is needed to automatically cross-post from there to DEV!

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Arika O Author

I understand what you mean with missing writing, this is one the main reasons I am writing on dev.to, so I don't completely lose the skill. I always thought if it's not working out with development I'll fall back on technical writing. It's interesting to see you followed the reversed path :). Never heard of Pelican, I'll take it as a tip (although I don't know anything about Python). Thank you for sharing.

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Sergio Daniel Xalambrí

I was 21 years old. I learnt how to code with JS a month before that (I already knew HTML and CSS for quite a while tho), the job title was "Maquetador", in English the translation is Frontend but it's only focused on HTML and CSS, with a little of JS for animations, I was not even allowed to do AJAX calls, that was the job of the "Real Programmers", not the best place to work as you may see, but I had a lot of free time and used it to learn Node, Angular.js (v1), and React and then land to a better job a year and a half later.

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Arika O Author

This is the first time I hear about the term "Maquetador" and about the fact that AJAX calls are for real programmers :). Half funny, half worrying, but nevertheless, good on you for learning other technologies and found something more suited for you. Thx for sharing.

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Ali GOREN

When I was 17, I got my first freelance job from a Turkish hacker group's admin. It was a WordPress job. Btw, I was shocked, I thought you're were younger :D I think the age only matters for a corporate company.

You only need to work hard. I see you worked hard and today you're a successful developer.

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Arika O Author

Hehe, Turkish group of hackers? That sounds wild :D. and yes, I got pretty late into web development and I was lucky my company is not one of those guilty of ageism.

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Ali GOREN

I don't think so, you didn't too late. I met a developer, he started when he was 40. Programming was a hobby for him. But he is a boss now. His company grows up every day.

:)

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Dean

I started coding when I was 7-8 on the ZX Spectrum at school but I got my first actual job at 19. It was a small company looking for someone who 'knew about computers'. It was a really good experience for me. On one hand I was managing SUN Solaris workstations, learning vim and bash and on the other I was writing Windows desktop apps in something called Oracle Power Objects. It's been a long and wild ride since then.

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andreespirela

At my 15. Back-end developer in C#. It was a great experience because I got into the real world really young and it didn’t only feel good being a teenager and making good money but interacting with people with a greater understanding of everything I thought I completely understood was a game-changer for me. Then I had 2 more programming jobs in small companies. But my real real real first big job was when I was 18 at one of the largest private-held tech company in South Florida. I was a java dev. That was a world-changer.

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Vesa Piittinen

Age 29. I had the opposite previous experience: I was already a rather good coder with about 20 years of experience, but being from a smaller town and having no existing contacts to education circles resulted into a couple of years of unemployment until I finally found a job where I would start growing a basic respect of myself, and also to figure out that I can handle much more complex stuff than the simplish job I had.

After five years of that I had grown enough confidence to go and try to get myself into a developer position. I was pretty lucky to find a place that was a very good fit in that they needed the information I had to fix a lot of things, while they were a good place to get up to speed on all the things that are impossible to learn just on your own (team working, big projects, agile, business needs etc.).

Things have changed though and I'm looking for my second position after seven years.

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Dave Jacoby

I was 26, 2nd pass at college and taking computer science, when I worked for the school as a student worker making web pages and tools.

I was 30 when I got hired by a local medical clinic. There was development, but I was first-and-foremost the admin who handled the VMS system that the pharmacy ran on, because my laughably small amount of VMS experience was far greater than anyone else had.

I was 38 when I got hired by that same university as part of a genomics lab. I did development, but I also did helpdesk, Windows and Linux administration, network installation and database administration.

I was 49 when I got hired on to my current position, which is 100% full-time, remote development.

So, 26? 49?

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Yuri Mednikov

Not full-time job, but a gig - I was about 14 years old. I had a task to write a program to the local hospital to work with FoxPro database to manage patients' data. It was written in Delphi 6 and, yeah, I received some money for that - at least for 14 years old that was enough :)

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Arika O Author

14? Wow, this is crazy, so many replies in which people are saying they were playing around with code before I even got an ID :).

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Sathish

Full time paid job when I was 21. The very next day of my final day of college. :D

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Sreejit Kar

I joined my first job as a dev 2 months ago (ie, at 20 years of age) . It;s full stack development job and I'm working with Django and Angular and to be honest, I love my boss. He's very cheerful and patient who listens to my noobie doubts and translates the industrial world for me.

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Arika O Author

I also found that support from seniors is crucial in getting adjusted to a new job, I am glad you found a nice team. Good luck :)!

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Sreejit Kar

Yeah , i feel I'm lucky 😅

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jen chan

28 , I look 20 and people don’t know I’ve had 3 other lives 😂

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Arika O Author

😂 from all the answers I got, people who got hired after 25 ,let's say, are very rare (of course, the sample is not big or relevant enough).

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jen chan

The sample isn't very age-diverse on this forum unfortunately. But i am guessing In big cities there's lots of past-25 folks getting into tech through bootcamps or college though. I feel like the people I gel better with for some reason are all late 20s and older and across all skill levels in tech. I have to admit, perhaps rejecting a lot of normative things about "growing up" has made it easier for me to grow it as a career switch (aka don't have kids or a mortgage, parents are not at a stage they are so old I will care for them full time) The thing I said about "getting along" is still a vast generalization... I find I'm not as competitive or judgey as I am in my 20s. I think the post 40 folks have it the hardest.

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Max Ong Zong Bao

When I was 24 after I had gotten my technical diploma. I remember I was working on-screen scraping program to find a way to scrape data for a government tenders website for government contracts. It was a really pain. As I was limited to using .net framework at that time which leads me to find out that you can do it through selenium.

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PenAndPapers

I was 23 back then. During my junior years my main task was to convert PSD's into web templates for EDM's and landing pages. JQuery and bootstrap css was my main tools for creating responsive web pages. It was tough for me during those days lots of sleepless nights coz I had to learn things on my own but it was all worth it.

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Sara Cunningham

21, which is how old I am right now, and it's a part-time junior developer internship. This is my first intro to front-end web development. At first, I was a little bit nervous and scared but I am really enjoying it and hopefully can make it into a career!

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Ryan Westlund

I think I was 19 when I became an intern at Awning Tracker LLC. I'd applied for an internship at Lunarch Studios but failed the interview. The Lunarch Studios interview was a big turning point, before then I'd been told by everyone but vitriolic siblings that I was super smart and until that day, I'd believed it. But it wasn't the rejection that served as my "wake up call" so much as my own assessment of how well I did - in fact, the interviewer thought far better of me than I did after it was over!

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Dedy Prasetyo Hermawan

I was 25 which is last year. I had no experience in software development before. I studied nuclear engineering but the chance to get a job in that field is pretty small in my country. So I joined a bootcamp and here I am as a junior developer.

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Barzi

I started programming when I was 13, I guess. My first programming language was quick basic and from there I learnt several others, including 16bit assembly and c++. I had a formal education in computer science during highschool. In Italy, where I am from, you can choose a sort of specialization during highschool, and CS was mine.
I never worked as a programmer until this year, though. I used to teach Japanese at University from 27 to 35. Now I've been working as a developer for 6 months, and I love it.

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Jakob Attkinson

23, after getting my B.sc degree.

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Jim Plourde

At 21, when I finished my cegep (3 year technical diploma in Quebec). I worked for the government for a school board. I mostly did software development, which was weirdly handled. We were only 4-5 on the software team, we didn't have any source control, only FTP. I sometimes did some on the road tech support. Then after ~4 years, I applied in university in computer engineering.

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Pandiyan Murugan

At the age of 22

During final year of my college course

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Adnan Babakan (he/him)

I was 15 when I got my first job to design an online shopping system. Now I hate to look at the code I wrote back then. LOL

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Arika O Author

Don't we all hate looking at code we wrote in the past :D?

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Carl Summers

I recently started my career at the age of 29 turning on 30. I got into game development originally but shifted into web development after starting a certificate at a local university. Did a couple of hackathons and it got me a lot of opportunities and met bunch of interesting folks.

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Carlos Mendible

19, part time, while studying to become chemical engineer

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mdhilwan

22 Years Old. I was pursuing a degree. But got offered a job during my freshman year. So I dropped out of school and went for the job :)

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Joseph Mawa

Wow! That is such an inspiration for some of us who are in the same situation.

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Azeez Abiodun Solomon

I was 25 when I started working as a dev, where everyone seems smarter than me. 😂

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Andrii

I started my career at 20, I got a part-time job when I was a student.

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Kyle Jones

22, during the final semester of my university course

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Aza

22 and I was really proud of myself. It was not what I do now, but it could be described as somehow tech job. The real tech job was at 24 and since then it was a roller coaster!

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Arika O Author

What exactly does a Business Intelligence Engineer do?

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Aza

in simple words: garbage in, garbage out while sorting and massaging it in between.

But seriously, we work with data and databases, write the code, ETL, do the reporting using different tools, add to it some Big data spices and that's what BI engineers do (at least in my company and in my career).

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Jon Randy

15 (back in 1991) - myself and a friend were asked to convert some educational maths software for kids from the Atari ST to the Amiga. We were offered the gig after a local Public Domain software library owner saw some of our demoscene demos. I've been programming since the age of 7 (ZX Spectrum)

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Thong Pham

I was 27 when I got my first developer job, after almost 2 years self-learned programming by myself every evening :))

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devanica

That's basically my story. That takes a lot of guts man!

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José Muñoz

I was 19 and I got hired by the CS Dean's husband, we built a hospital management software in C#.

I learned a lot, and we did other IT services like installing network setups and other support stuff.

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Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀

Around 27 after finishing my MSc Computer Science degree but I had been following a Civil Engineering Career path before I started studying computer science ... that was long time ago though ...

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Stephen Leyva (He/Him)

At 13 I took over an aspx site for a small business where the entire backend was essentially shelling out to power shell scripts. Fun times! 😂😂

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Oleg Vinokurov

21, convert Visual Basic ActiveX control to the DHTML, CSS, and JavaScript... Good old days

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Muhammad Awais

I was 17 when I got first order on Fiverr. And 22 when I got my job

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Doaa Mahely

23, almost one year after graduating from university

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Louise

I got my first freelance web development job at 19, creating a static landing page for a local hairdresser.

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Pulak Chakraborty

At the age of 23; fresh out of college! 10 years have passed since then, and I am now searching for my first Frontend Developer job! :-D