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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What jobs did you hold before you got into software?

Discussion (128)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

For me:

  • Maintenance/janitorial
  • Dish washer
  • Grocery store worker
  • Painter
  • Grounds crew
  • Nightclub security
  • Callcenter agent
  • Misc entrepreneurship
  • Marketing director at a startup 👈 This was that first "career" job where I knew I needed the change 😄
haris_secic profile image
Haris Secic

Nightclub security... Oh boy what out :D.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

I’m from Canada and the worst clientele in that industry are NHL stars who think they’re above the bar rules 😭

polluterofminds profile image
Justin Hunter

Inventory for car dealership
Taco Bell
Satellite tv store clerk
Ice cream scooper
Grocery clerk
Call center agent
Call center supervisor
Business analyst

scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

Painting, like houses? Or an artist?

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

I would have loved to sell art, but it was houses. Ladders and windy days! 😬

msamgan profile image
Mohammed Samgan Khan

You have done things Man....

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

Marketing director at a startup

Yeah, marketing will do that... 🤣

burdettelamar profile image
Burdette Lamar


  • Paper boy.
  • Bag boy, stockman.
  • Infantryman.
  • English instructor.
  • Mathematics instructor.


  • Documentor.
  • Applications developer.
  • Libraries developer.
  • Tester.
  • Test automation developer.
scott_yeatts profile image
Scott Yeatts

+1 for another Infantryman turned coder 😀

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) • Edited on
  • Hay Baler
  • Horse Groom
  • Horse Instructor
  • College Course TA
  • College Course Grader
  • Dorm Front Desk Worker
  • Proprietary Options Trader
  • Aviation Law Consultant
ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Here's an old pic of me in my jump crew days 😄 (In my above list I just lumped it in as grounds crew)

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

OMG yes!!!! Damn you were good at carrying poles. I remember feeling like a turtle putting the standards on my back to move them all over the ring. 😂

Thread Thread
ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Do you go to shows with "horseless horse shows"?

(These are my long-hair-don't-care days)

Thread Thread
molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

That hair!!!!

You bet, the horseless horse shows are always WAY more entertaining than the real thing. As a kid I could jump 4+ft, as an adult I can hardly throw myself over a 3 ft jump. Lost some of my spring/everything kinda tightens up LOL

torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford • Edited on
  • Gym Security
  • Cashier
  • Server
  • Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer
  • Receptionist @ Gym
  • Head Athletic Trainer in ECHL
  • High School Athletic Trainer
  • Junior Recruiter

looking for first software engineering role now

felipperegazio profile image
Felippe Regazio • Edited on
  • microsoft office "teacher"
  • service desk support

then i started to backpacking thru all the south america, and had a lot of crazy jobs, and some cool jobs as:

  • truck cleaner
  • computer support (hardware, formating, virus removals, etc)
  • truck charge unloader (i dont have sure how to write it sorry)
  • truck recovering (i worked with some guys who were recovering broken trucks)

then i came back to home, started to study development really hard (i was always studing software development, since i was 12 i think, but was always for fun), so I got the courage and started doing some freelancings, then everything has change.

now, some years later, im working as front end developer in a place which i really enjoy :)

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson
  • Rabbi
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Tech Support
bvmcode profile image
bvmcode • Edited on

In order

  • corn picker (during HS)
  • dish washer (during HS)
  • grocery clerk (during and after HS)
  • Storm chaser/NSSL research assistant (during college)
  • Research/teaching assistant in Oceanography (during college - MS)
  • Collections (after college, it SUCKED!!)
  • Logistics Analyst (still with this company)
  • Operations Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Developer! (10 years later)
starkgoesgreen profile image
Samuel ⎊

Mechanic ⚙️🔧

cecilelebleu profile image
Cécile Lebleu
  1. Startup misc assistant (video and audio editing, customer service, even some super basic coding here and there)
  2. Baker & Barista
  3. Designer, still going! Type and brand design are my favorite areas. My plan is to join both design and development together.
scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

If tech does me wrong, baker/barista would be my go-to skill.

khophi profile image
KhoPhi • Edited on

Reading through the comments, and oh dear, some seem to have held all possible jobs before getting into software. I'm jealous of the experience gained throughout those jobs. Priceless.

I, on the other hand, started with software, and transitioning into photography/videography

voins profile image
Alexey Voinov

Oh thanks. I thought I'm the only one here, who started with software. :)

bradtaniguchi profile image
Brad • Edited on
  • McDonald's Team Member (not even kidding)
    • Worked night shifts till 4AM
    • Learned about work life balance. (I'd have 20 hour days most of the week)
  • IT help desk
    • Worked at school
    • Learned programming in free time
    • Dealt with PHD professors who didn't know how to use PowerPoint -__-
  • IT Analysis Intern
    • Worked over the summer, got extended another 3 months
    • Learned how business IT actually works.
    • Learned it wasn't that much fun, I really wanted to go into programming/software development.
  • Software Engineer
    • Learned everything else I know :P
karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman

Do tell: what is the story for transitioning from McDonald's Team Member to IT help desk? Why IT?

bradtaniguchi profile image

I worked at McDonalds to help pay the bills, but the job was across town making things very difficult once my school schedule changed to take over the entire day.

Luckily, while I was complaining about my situation to a classmate he told me he worked in an IT department on campus and could talk to his boss about getting me a job.

I knew enough IT to get the job, since I would work on old out dated computers at home all the time. (Just like the ones on campus 😉)

The fact I got the job came down to networking, a little off-hand knowledge and luck.

Thread Thread
karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman

That's a great combination of self learning/interest and luck. Beautiful.

scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill • Edited on

I had a fair amount of odd, non-tech/non-software jobs.


  • Babysitter
  • Receptionist. This was at an optometrist office where I did some insurance billing


  • Digital Printing Technician
  • Designer at the Department of Student Affairs
  • Student Ambassador (volunteer)
  • Visitor Services Operative. I worked at the International Spy Museum for a season.


  • Mystery Shopper
  • Production Assistant. I did behind the scenes work for a Nickelodeon event for a day!
  • Graphic Designer. Mostly one-off contract work, backfilling for someone's maternity leave, etc
  • Retail Associate. Funny, I was almost 30 before I had my first retail job. A friend had a pop-up shop last holiday season and I worked Black Friday while she was out of town.
karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman

Mystery Shopper has got to be kind of the programming mindset! my guess. All of these things you list seem to have been preparation for development (working with people, understanding production systems [production assistant], and the creative aspects overall.

cjbrooks12 profile image
Casey Brooks

Most of my jobs were summer jobs during college, which took me all over the USA and the world:

  • Yard work for a neighbor (high school; Michigan)
  • Summer camp counselor (college, between freshmen/sophomore years; Arkansas)
  • Summer missionary (college, between sophomore/junior years; St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • Data entry and labor for a small decorative concrete flooring business (college, between junior/senior years; Texas)
  • Software dev intern for Logos Bible Software (college, between senior/super-senior years, and part-time during fall semester; Washington state)
programazing profile image
Christopher C. Johnson

I was a cashier at a Cracker Barrel then I had a couple of ISP call center jobs.

olisun profile image

I was in finance for 20 years and then my company got bought and I was eventually laid off. I was the Trading Operations Manager for an Investment Management firm. I retired for a while but decided to pursue a second career as a web dev.

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson • Edited on

You were Donald Duck?


andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

In order:

  • Painter
  • Late night cookie baker
  • Food co-op (grocery store) cashier
  • Busboy
  • Health insurance salesman at a call center
  • Mail room clerk
jmcp profile image
James McPherson

milk runner (showing my age here!)
pizza delivery driver
warehouse grunt
library assistant
system administrator


software and hardware support
software maintenance engineer
(and now it's 15 years later)

michaelbrooks profile image
Michael Brooks
  • Hotel Cleaner
  • Store Assistant

Not really that interesting if I'm honest, but my job history as a web developer is far more interesting.

First web dev job lasted just 3 weeks because they were offering a junior salary, but looking for a mid to senior developer.

The next job was supposed to be an apprenticeship which I started 6 months early because I want to get stuck in.

Those 6 months were hell because I was still being given an apprenticeship wage and I was paying for a houseshare and for rent for my flat back home. I was finding ways to earn extra while there, which they inevitably found out about and so I never started my apprenticeship.

There's a lot more to my employment history and I might need to write a post on it. 😂

mikedubcurry profile image
Michael Curry • Edited on

a zoo
and currently a grocery store

I realized after three years at the grocery store that I am not cut out for retail and much prefer a more challenging career.
Still working on breaking into a dev role

karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman

You can do eeeet!

Here's some advice you didn't ask for:

  • keep doing IT stuffs that are fun and interesting to you
  • If/When you try for jobs go full on, apply everywhere, work on your elevator pitch, DO realize that you have something to offer, work off your frustration with job pursuits constructively -don't get too down on yourself when you fail. Remember every failure gives you the advantage of knowledge. Keep at it -you'll get there.
ackers93 profile image
Andrew Ackerman

Oh I like this one!

In order of events:

  • Berry Picker
  • Farm Worker
  • Vineyard Worker
  • Junior Chef
  • Dishwasher
  • Building Apprentice
  • Domino's Pizza Maker
  • Housing Carpenter
  • Junior Developer Advocate (Current)

I do miss working outside sometimes, but being able to continue to work as I'm sitting in Osaka on a month long working vacation from California sure is amazing!

n_develop profile image
Lars Richter

For me:

  • working in one of the "restaurants" in an amusement Park. deep frying everything that's not a salad
  • working in some kind of assembly line. Doing the same assembly step more than 1000 times a day
  • assembling control cabinets
  • Pizza delivery guy
highcenburg profile image
Vicente Reyes • Edited on


  • Multimedia Production Assistant
  • Car Salesman
  • Call Center Agent
  • Real Estate Salesman
  • Business Development Executive(Logistics Startup)
  • Relationship Manager(GPS Industry(Startup))
  • Now I'm a Remote Django Dev Intern
mdarrik profile image
Darrik Moberg

I was fortunate enough to only need to work once I started college.

  • Event Organization for College Community Center (RIP Cornell CCP)

  • Research Technician helping a graduate student study Obligate Slave-making ants in New York State (This was really cool. They lived in acorns a lot of the time)

  • Undergrad TA for an intro to CS course

  • Stream Ecology research assistant

scott_yeatts profile image
Scott Yeatts
  • Call Center Customer Service
  • Greasy Spoon cook/waiter
  • Tutor (Math/science/English)
  • Theatre Props Intern
  • Theatre Stage Carpenter
  • Nightclub "security" (AKA I got paid in end of night beers to help with the door/unruly customers)
  • Airborne Infantryman
  • Training coordinator (Army Division Training NCO)
haris_secic profile image
Haris Secic

Sadly none. I've been some sort of network/system admin and that probably counts as software too except for putting wires in RJ-45.

That kind of makes me feel like a child. But hey it's fun to make computers go bee bop bee bee

aromig profile image
Adam Romig 🇵🇭
  • Computer tech
  • Grocery stocking at Meijer (short-lived 2 weeks)
  • Computer tech
  • Level 2 Desktop Support / Developer as a secondary thing I do

Been coding long before my first job but still haven't found somewhere to be a full-time developer yet. Some day...

karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman • Edited on

Nice! -Great Question! I love that you asked this question (and answers thus far) because it really shows our diversity. Everyone has a story and everyone's story is important, and relevant, and beautiful!


  • large printing press plant clean up crew worker...supervisor..manager [age 16 (1988-90)]
  • recycling center worker.. assistant manager [age 18]
    • semi truck driver for deliveries
    • small business owner (recycling newspaper as animal bedding)
  • plastics recycling line worker and forklift driver
    • small business owner (recycling pallets)
  • plastics recycling and extruder operator/manager
  • plastics recycling plant supervisor
  • printing press operator (4 - 8 color -large scale)
  • Delivery truck driver (plastics recycling)
  • Systems administrator (Minux, SCO, ATT Unix, HPUX, Linux, dos, windows) - medical field
  • Software engineer (1996 ...)
javierg profile image
Javier Guerra
  • Printing Press Helper
  • Elementary School Janitor
  • Office Supplies Sales Person
  • Cleaning Busses
  • Video Rental Store Clerk
  • Pizza Delivery <- best job ever (if you are 17)
  • Building and selling OEM PCs
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Prepress technician
  • Offset Press operator
  • Desktop Publisher
  • Publisher
  • College Teacher
  • Graphic Designer
laviku profile image

I only had one job, I worked at a bus company for about three years, where they use this bars on both doors to track (count) the passengers that aboards through the day, my job was to analize and generate reports of every bus, every day and deliver the results to the corresponding owner

jankosutnik profile image
Jan Kosutnik

Little late to the party, but still:

1 and only: Sound Engineer / Sound Designer ( 20 yrs )

Graphics designer ( some freelance gigs )

I have started with Wordpress websites along the way as a side projects, but now I am in the middle of career change and learning to code.

kunde21 profile image
Chad Kunde • Edited on

Lots of things:

  • Concrete (flat-work)
  • Framing (houses)
  • Landscape/Maintenance (mowed grass, painted buildings, picked up trash, etc)
  • Cashier at a liquor store (during first half of college)
  • Military:
    • Radio Operator
    • Admin clerk (Admin is kind of like HR sans hiring/firing)
    • Admin section head (some dev with available tools => VBA and SQL)
    • Operations planner (near lethal dose of Excel and Powerpoint)
  • Undergrad research assistant (during second half of college ~10yrs later)
  • Developer (after graduation, started at 33yrs old)
josegonz321 profile image
Jose Gonzalez
  • Marketer for family food business
  • Transporter for family commuter business
  • KB toys associate
  • Line worker at factory for plastics
  • Line worker at factory for perfumes
  • Night cleanup crew (at offices at night)
  • QA at factory for perfumes
  • Flea market helper
  • Flea market salesperson
yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson • Edited on

So you wore a purple leotard and a bob haircut... 😂

walkhard13 profile image
Phillip Smith

Quarry Specialist - National Guard
Concrete finish work
Delivery Person - Ice
Miscellaneous labor
Wal-Mart - Unloading Trucks
Lowe's - Floor crew
Corrections Officer
Logistics Manager - National Guard
UPS - Unloading trucks
VA - Medical Records
Delivery Person - Restaurant products

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Grocery store all-around-helper during high-school. Bought my first Fender Strat and first DVD-Drive from that.

Then three years apprenticeship in the Sparkasse-Bank in Munich. Finished it but I was shit at sales, so they didn't hire me.

After that I spent a day at McDonalds. This must be what hell is like on bad days.

Then three Years waiting at Pizza Hut during FOS-School and Uni. This was the most fun job, although I hardly had any days off because I worked on the weekend. It was hard on the relationship with my now-wife, so we were happy when I found the following job…

Doing Photo-Archiving at ADAC-Motorwelt (largest magazine in Germany) for one year. No weekends, easy work, and double-pay than Pizza Hut. (From 6,12 € to 12 €).

After that in 2011 I did the internship at my current company and have been here ever since.

scottishross profile image
Ross Henderson • Edited on

I've not had much really.

  • Bookkeeper (during my teens).
  • Sales Assistant.
  • Kitchen Assistant.
  • Charity Pusher on the streets (I morally quit this job within 3 weeks. It was hellish).
  • Claims Administrator at an Insurance Call Center.
  • Technical Support within that Call Center.
  • Content Co-ordinator. This weird title was actually my first proper coding title.
  • Oracle APEX Developer at my previous job. A title which has stuck through.

That's unless you want to take into account volunteer stuff at University.

  • Radio Host of multiple shows for 3 years.
  • DJ for club and charity events.
  • Vice-President of the Musicians Society.
  • Co-Founder of the Gentlemen's Society.
  • Assist Events Co-ordinator for the Student Radio Service.
mercier_remi profile image
Rémi Mercier
  • Cloakroom clerk in a swimming pool 🏊‍♂️
  • Stained-glass maker 👨🏻‍🎨 (restored stained-glass from 16th to 20th century)
  • Museum guide 🖼
  • Woodworker 🔨
  • Librarian 📓
  • Marketing manager at a startup 👈 This was that first "career" job where I knew I needed the change 😄 (wink wink @ben )
burguer80 profile image
Sergio Burgueño
  • Carwash
  • Food demonstrator
  • Cashier in a gas station
  • Waiter
  • Pet groomer
  • Radio station operator
  • University professor
  • IT Manager 👈 where I realized that I needed a change.
  • UX/UI designer
gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes
  • Plastics recycling
  • Cannery (night shifts)
  • Construction site security (night shifts)
  • Furniture and art print salesman
  • Student accommodation warden
  • "Musical" "Theatre" "Actor"
  • University library shhh-er (genuinely paid to walk around going shhhh)
  • Careers advisor (!!!!)
  • Library assistant (sometimes on the mobile library van!)
  • Copy Writer
  • Children's furniture salesman
  • Private Tutor (English, History, Maths, Religious Studies... you name it)
  • Typist
  • Proof reader
  • worked the door for a burlesque show a few times
  • Marketing Executive

... and much like Ben it was the marketing that finally made me change tac...

dechamp profile image

Weed (not drugs :P) puller
errand boy
grocery store attendant
telemarketer (a million kind)
student loan advisor
bar back
QA Tester
manager at an night club

ketoaustin profile image
Hannah (she/her)
  • cashier
  • college radio DJ
  • middle school art teacher
  • au pair
  • administrative assistant
  • assistant cupcake baker
  • after school program educator
  • nonprofit grant writer
  • nonprofit project manager (this is when I learned about VBA and got hooked)
aadibajpai profile image
Aadi Bajpai

I just finished high school, but I was pretty into Model UNs and Quizzing and Literary stuff before I got into tech. I still like all those but I believe the higher purpose can be better served using technology.

_ronini profile image
Ronnie Villarini
  • Cook when I was in high school
  • Finisher 1 (factory work, I sprayed the finishing coat of paint on cabinet frames)
  • Electronics Sales Associate (Walmart, 7 years!)
  • Software Developer
  • Front End Developer (current!)
eljayadobe profile image

My first job, as a short-order cook, was when I was 16.

I got into software when I was 10, working on Oregon Trail on the TIES system, which was on a Model 33 using a 110 baud modem and an acoustic coupler to an HP minicomputer.

Later on, I've worked on Expression Blend, Visual Studio, and Internet Explorer.

These days, I'm working on Photoshop. (I've also worked on Premiere Pro.)

garrett profile image

Coincidentally I wrote a post related to this today. I’ll link at the bottom.

The full list, in order:

  • Retail
  • Air Force (briefly; am not a veteran)
  • Retail again
  • Restaurant
  • SEO firm
  • Software company (non-coding positions)
  • Marketing for substance abuse rehabs
  • Marketing firm startup
  • Communications Director for non-profit (current day job)
  • Marketing and hopefully soon coding for It’s My Chance

jckuhl profile image
Jonathan Kuhl • Edited on

Most recent at top:

  • Year at Barclaycard as a customer service agent on the phone
  • Deployment to Kuwait with USAF Reserves as Air Transportation Specialist, weekend warrior for 8 years.
  • Ramp agent for GAT Airline Ground Support to handle United and JetBlue aircraft
  • Lift operator for a local ski resort
camdhall profile image
  • Poured Concrete
  • Baked doughnuts
  • Made pizza
  • Delivered furniture

And like Ben I started at in marketing before realizing I was far more skilled at programming so...

  • Marketing coordinator
  • Copywriter
  • Market Researcher
charlesanim profile image
Charles Anim

I was an:

  • CNA
  • Walmart Associate (got fired after a week)
  • Local Supermarket associate
  • Pasta maker line operator
  • Steel Mill operator
  • Extrusion operator


  • Freelancer
  • Web admin
  • Senior Front End Developer
matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

Insurance clerk