I'm sure the two of you had low paying jobs at some point in your lives. How did It feel to have your first big developer pay check? Was it a stress reliever or was it no big deal? As a junior developer, I don't make close to what the average developer makes, but I love my job and view each day as an opportunity to get better. But I'm very much looking forward to the pay that being a developer can bring.
I once worked at a local newspaper, operating the machine that inserted ads into papers. I also worked at a bakery, washing dishes and cleaning up.
My first real game job was as a C programmer working on a 3D PC game named Montezuma's Return. I made $1500/month as a contractor in 1996, which seemed like a lot of money to me at the time (as a 19 year old). From there my pay skyrocketed as I shipped more games and got more experience.
Was making a lot of money a stress reliever? Not really. My best paying gig (at Valve) was exceptionally stressful. I made like 1/3rd as much at Microsoft (at Ensemble Studios) but I was much happier and totally less stressed out. I think optimizing for a balance between income, happiness, and low stress is a lot healthier vs. just optimizing for highest income.
For me, I worked minimum wage jobs for many years. Even as I went to school for programming, I was kind of envisioning maybe needing to stay in retail if it didn't work out.
In my first coding job, I made $42,000. Holy crap, I remember that felt like an amazing amount of money. I suddenly didn't need to agonize about grocery bills. It was life changing.
For a while, I didn't feel comfortable negotiating salary because I had this complex of "I should be grateful" and I also just wasn't very aware of what other programmers made at all. I thought maybe this was pretty normal.
But then I ran into a situation, later in my career, where a coworker who did the same work I was doing and had the same experience was making twice what I was. That did not feel right at all. It was a very strong lesson on how quickly you can advance as a programmer in terms of salary, and also taught me that negotiation and getting other offers is important.
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