re: We're Stephanie Hurlburt and Rich Geldreich, ask us anything! VIEW POST


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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