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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What jobs did you have *before* software development?

Most of us probably had some sort of other jobs before getting into software as a career. I'd love to hear from the community on this matter!

Top comments (85)

cerchie profile image
Lucia Cerchie • Edited

Since high school...

  • barista
  • waitress
  • light plumbing/electricity as part of a work study program
  • teacher's assistant for 4th grade
  • certified in-home nursing assistant
  • teacher's assisant for Montessori classrom 2-6 yrs old
  • summer literacy specialist
  • literacy coach for K-5
  • ran my own digital marketing agency

I tried a lot of things-- I'd really recommend the 'try it before you buy it' approach if you're going to have to invest in your education. That's why I became a CNA, and I realized that my proprioceptive difficulties would make nursing tough, so I saved myself a wasted investment in med school.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

ran my own digital marketing agency

Was this how you dipped your toes in before getting more directly involved in software development?

cerchie profile image
Lucia Cerchie • Edited

yep! I had a contract with a SaaS and was like, I want to do what their engineers do. I still do dev-rel-y things all the time like content creation and documentation that I learned to do while writing my first technical pieces back then.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Very similar to how I ultimately got into what I do.

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cerchie profile image
Lucia Cerchie

two members of brooklyn 99 high fiving

dhravya profile image

damn, inspiring

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Here's my work background before this field:

Some of these are various jobs, but I've consolidated and didn't count brief stints.

  • Janitorial work/groundskeeping
  • Dishwashing/bus boy
  • Nightclub Security
  • Call center
  • Marketing

Basically, I did a lot of manual labor-type jobs and then got into marketing as my initial career before discovering my real interest in software development.

superloika profile image

Man, you're amazing!

leewynne profile image
Lee Wynne

I fitted a lot windows, I also tried welding (I was really bad at that). It was either professional combat sports or tech for me, glad I chose the latter!

davidteren profile image
David Teren

After school;

  • Army (2 years compulsory conscription at the time)
  • Junior Technical Assistant at a Media Production company. Audio recording on Reel-to-reel tape and video on massive Umatic Tapes.
  • Various stints in the restaurant industry as a waiter or assistant manager.
  • Aramis Consultant at a major retailer.
  • Car tyre salesperson
  • Product Specialist (Demonstrator)- Creative Labs
  • Category Manager (Sierra Interactive, Disney Interactive, Acclaim...)
  • Technical Product Specialist - Various Audio Studio Brands
  • Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
  • Music Technology Lecturer
  • Sound Designer - Mostly Radio & TV. Was part of an international team doing sound design on a feature film.
  • Ran my own production company but lost it after 2008.
  • Moved to another city to start over and got a job as a Junior Audio Engineer.
  • Worked my way up. While working on a project where we sent the audio files to devs I got frustrated with waiting for the devs to do their thing and learn some scripting. Created (scripted) a solution that impressed the boss and making started scripts for the office peeps to automate their tasks. It was like I discovered my superpower ;)
  • Start as a junior DevOps engineer at a company thanks to a friend who had seen my newfound passion. We did a lot of Ruby scripting at this company. During this time I discovered Rails and wrote a tool that we used in the DevOps team.
  • Worked at a product company building all sorts of apps for clients
  • Worked at a startup with some of my heroes in the Rails community
  • Currently, Iโ€™m a Team Lead at a Fintech Company.

I switched careers at 47 and I turn 54 in a week. So grateful that I ended up in software development.

matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly
  • Packing in a warehouse
  • Shelf stacking
  • Customer service rep for a life insurer for nearly 12 years
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Customer service rep for a life insurer for nearly 12 years

What led to the change?

matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

It was badly paid, boring and I was clearly not progressing - I was getting paid less than new starters. To make it worse, I got transferred to another area where none of my prior experience was any use at all.

Meanwhile I bought a Dummies book about Linux on a whim as I had a voucher for money off them and started messing around with Ubuntu in my spare time. That reignited my interest in computers in general and I wound up doing a correspondence course with the intention of changing career. Took four years, but in 2011 I started my first web dev job and never looked back.

Technically I've also been a mobile app dev in the time since then, but since that was Phonegap rather than native app development and I never did it exclusively, I don't really distinguish it as a different job.

shriekdj profile image
Shrikant Dhayje
  • Waiter at wedding
  • Customer Care Executive
  • Sr. Customer Care Executive
  • Box Packing Worker
  • Pseudo Accountant
  • Data Entry Operator
heatherw profile image
Heather Williams
  • Market research into chemicals industry (3 month internship)
  • Textbook editor
  • Technical content editor
  • Software dev

Not bad for someone with a chemistry degree. The technical content editor work really helped me figure out that I wanted to make the move to software dev and not just work with content.

mellen profile image
Matt Ellen

I always wanted to work in software, ever since I started programming as a hobby in my teens, but I didn't get a dev job straight out of uni.

I spent a year or so working in a call centre selling wine (inbound, not outbound calls). I'd had other summer jobs here and there, but this was my first actual job.

It was a nice company and for the most part the customers were nice. It did not cure me of my fear of phone calls, but having a script to follow made it a lot easier.

(I don't say this out loud often, but I don't like wine, and I really tried!)

mjguillemette profile image
Michael J Guillemette

I was a bartender for 5 years. Studied code and web applications, built the website for the restaurant I worked at, and made a ton of great connections. Talking with people from all walks of life really helped me to have confidence in interviews.

cassiofreitas profile image
Cassio Freitas

Network and System Administration. Well, development is everywhere, right ? :-)

link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone • Edited

I was quite lucky and managed to get into tech quite early but it wasn't until my late twenties where I became a Dev.

  • Picker in a warehouse (17 - 18)
  • Stock controller (18 - 20)
  • IT support Technician (20 - 27)
  • Web developer (27+)
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

We have multiple warehouse pickers in the thread!

namkata profile image
NamKata • Edited

In my country. To become a software development, you must study at universities and do internships in companies. When I was a student, I also worked in other industries such as banking, consulting and customer service

hamidb80 profile image
Hamid Bluri

What is the name of your country?

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman
  • Dough boy (literally, I made the dough at a pizza place before I was of legal age to work)
  • Bused tables at a country club
  • Dishwasher at another pizza place
  • Phone technical support at an IT contractor (quit after one week, they were awful)
  • Waiter at two private clubs
  • On-campus technical support (university)
  • Technical writer, business-side documentation (university)
  • QA tester (university)
  • QA engineer (university)

I got the technical writing job because I had a background in tech and was pursuing an English degree. From there, I just kept scootching my way into more and more technical stuff until I qualified for a software development job.

geraldew profile image

My non-programming, non-database, non-IT-support jobs have (in chronological order) been:

  • Labourer - literally digging holes
  • Dogman - this is a person who runs around putting hooks on things for cranes
  • Labourer - sweeping around welding workers, filling pontoons with Polyurethane expanding foam etc
  • Draughtsman - pre-computing so this was with ink pens on a draughting board, and more than just the drawing I was required to design new items - e.g. an ore crusher, a conveyer belt etc - adapting from a single example image in a textbook
  • Labourer - miscellaneous things at a bakery repair workshop - as in: the commercial grade bakeries supplying loaf bread to supermarkets, where tasks would range from crawling into an oven to remove a bearing for repair, or breaking up cast iron equipment with a sledge hammer for disposal (so yes, quite physical work).
  • Circuit board construction - making high gain amplifiers (for a university gravity wave project)
  • Circuit board repairs - finding and fixing broken tracks and components
  • Computer sales / repairs / demonstrations / running the shop on Saturdays
  • Wrote and delivered introductory computing classes
ryanwinchester profile image
Ryan Winchester • Edited

Skipping a few short-term ones:

  • Hardware Store Associate
  • Caterer/Porter (in the monkey suit with bowtie)
  • Landscaper
  • Backhoe Spotter/Labourer
  • MDPE Gas Line Fuser
  • Electrician
  • Carpenter
  • General Contractor (my own business: building homes, renovations, decks)
horus_kol profile image
Stuart Jones

From 16 - mostly alongside college and university to be able to buy food:

  • Paper boy
  • Odd jobs in a garden centre
  • Temp cover - warehouse, deliveries, cleaning, loading, and all sorts of other things
  • Bartender
  • Support engineer for HVAC control hardware and software

The temp cover job was pretty good at times - even worked in a brewery for a couple of weeks. But I'd never know what I was doing from one day to the next, and some jobs were horrible (8 hour shifts testing imported smoke detectors or cutting off European plugs of off electric blenders and replacing them with UK plugs).