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$13/hr to $150k in under 4 years - My story

5 months ago

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2017 - Retail Sales - $13/hr --> Fired (Best thing that ever happened) 2017 - Call Center Dispatch - $15/hr -> New Company 2018 - Helpdesk Support Level 1 - $18.50/hr -> Promotion 2019 - Helpdesk Support Level 2 Lead - $22.50/hr -> Promotion 2019 - IT Support Specialist II - $28/hr -> New Company 2020 - Software Support Engineer - $85,000/year -> New Company 2021 - Site Reliability Engineer - $150,000/year -> New Company I got fired for the first time in my life in 2017, it was from a job I'd been doing on and off for the last 7 or so years, retail cell phone sales. In 2010, I officially failed out of college. It was probably the longest and most expensive possible path to failure I could take, attending 4 years, including 3 summer semesters, at a total cost of $140,000. I had 80% of an Aerospace Engineering degree, but that didn't mean much of anything to anyone. My complete and utter lack of responsibility, time management and general ability to get anything done was the primary culprit, and the sad part is I was well aware of this and blamed nobody but myself. Cue 7 years of self loathing. So, retail. I liked technology, I was good helping people learn it, fixing it, figuring it out. I hate sales. Sales, at least at that level, is almost entirely about misleading people into spending as much money on shit they don't need as humanly possible. The company and management won't ever outright admit this, but it's true. The incentives and metrics are impossible to attain if you're not a scumbag. So when I was fired for refusing to accept that "liquid screen protectors are the same as physical ones and are a steal at $40 for a wet wipe" I decided it was time for a change. I had spent a long time applying to dream jobs I wanted, but I hadn't spent any time doing anything to prove I deserved those jobs. So I started seriously studying software development, which had always been a natural interest of mine. I had done a few tutorials and started half-assed projects a handful of times, but always got stuck and gave up before finishing anything of value. This time it was different. I committed to studying 5 hours a day, every day I was unemployed. I would wake up at the same time, study for 5 hours, and then work on projects for another 3-4 hours. I treated it like my full time job. (The particular course I choose was Intro to CS in Python through Udacity, great course) It was only 4 months when I landed the job! Well, not THE job, it was a call center job, basically tech dispatch, the lowest of the low. $15/hr for glorified data entry. I hated it, it was way below my station. But fuck it, I decided to give it everything I had anyway, as an experiment. In my first month, I answered a total of 1,475 calls. The team average was under 450. Every day I watched my coworkers screw around and avoid work, and it pissed me off constantly. What was the point of working so hard when nobody else did? Less than 3 months in, the company spun up a new department, an actual remote helpdesk call center, and I got picked to be on that team based on the stellar call numbers. This was the start of a string of promotions and job switches that lead me where I am today. The key transition point for me, was to stop feeling like I was owed an amazing job, that someone would stumble upon me and marvel at my latent genius and ability, and started trying to earn it. Maybe that's obvious but I feel like a lot of people are stuck in a similar mindset, where they know they could dominate a job if only they were given the chance. The problem is, even if that is true, EVERYBODY says/thinks that. You have to actually prove it. That means going above and beyond and adding value in a way that's clear to your company, or to another company. You have to bust your friggen ass and be underpaid for a long time to get what you want. A key example, when I was working helpdesk that job had some insane downtime, just the nature of the job, sometimes nothing is breaking and there's no work to do. All of my coworkers used this time to play video games, watch Netflix, screw around. I was constantly programming, building scripts and modules to generate automated email reports to replace the ones my manager was spending 4 hours a week copying and pasting by hand. Building a dashboard to show ticketing accuracy performance. Setting up my own AWS account and configuring linux servers just so I could say I did it. This habbit has stuck with me through all of my jobs, I'm looking for ways to add value with my skillset that nobody else thinks of doing, or is capable of doing. The sad part of this is most of the time, once you're hired, you're not going to get a mega promotion/raise out of the company. I've switched companies for a 40-60% raise every year for the last 3 years and without fail every time I give my notice, they make a matching or exceeding counter-offer. So even though they KNOW I'm worth it, they won't give me the money without me actually leaving. Shit sucks, I really want to just stay somewhere and build stuff for a long time but, that's the market. Anyway this ended up way longer than I thought, feel free to AMA or DM me if you're interested in specifics. Cheers


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    25russianbear25

    Youre the original burnout depressed gifted kid who after years finally realized their talents. How was your personal life like ?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Haha eerily on point. I was pretty social up to when I dropped out of school, then I went underground and hid from the world for about 7 years. Funny enough once I started moving up career wise, I also started working out, gained a ton of confidence, moved into a major city and met my wife, who I married last year. Turns out taking responsibility for your life works wonders for your overall likeability!

      5 months ago

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    Chumy_Cho

    Massive congrats! Hope anyone struggling could learn from this

    5 months ago

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    EyeTea5544

    That’s really impressive. I’ve gone up $3/hr since 2017 despite constantly getting glowing reviews from upper management. Fml lol

    5 months ago

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      OnionedLife

      Why don’t you look for another job? Curious

      5 months ago

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    neuerisfeuer

    This is awesome! I wish there was a similar trajectory for careers that aren't in IT or STEM. I am not good at coding, software, etc., and have no interest in it, either. It seems like a lot of jobs in my field plateau after a certain salary range, even when trying to switch companies, and then you have to pay more money to go back to school to earn more. Maybe there is a trajectory like yours but I haven't found it yet.

    5 months ago

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      Abhorrent69

      I guessed it would be IT or something with coding as soon as I saw the title. There's several stories like this but they all involve coding or comp sci.

      5 months ago

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    stovant972

    I m currently unemployed been unemployed for 6 months, have no clue how to get a good job or one that pays well. I have never made more than 12 an hour and I am 30 years old which made me feel depressed. Not because I am 30, but I honestly have no clue how to get a decent paying job. I decided to just start somewhere instead of sitting here for another 6 months. I decided since I have no clue how to get a well paying job that I could drive for door dash to pay my 800 in rent each month while I start me a jewelery store on the side. I was considering getting into IT similar to what you have done but all the youtube videos I have watched recommend getting your A+ certification and starting out in help desk. And I just hate being on the phone it gives me anxiety. I have no clue if this is the right path to take but its better then the one i was on

    5 months ago

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      mostly_ok_now

      On the phone thing, I've found being comfortable is a muscle that you have to exercise. I had phone anxiety, worked as a receptionist for my senior year of high school, very quickly got confident, but it died off after a few years of being in college and working at an engineering firm where I was never on calls. Then I started in construction management where I call people all the time, and that confidence came back. Now I don't have an ounce of anxiety when the phone rings and as soon as I need to talk to someone I hit call without thinking about it.

      5 months ago

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    valaliane

    This is what I’m doing at my current job as well, studying Excel and SQL when I have downtime and being proactive. I just finished building a spreadsheet for my manager to give her a bird’s eye view of when I’m running samples and using conditional formatting to show when they’re due. Also making monthly reports with statistics like how many samples a particular provider ordered, how many samples come from a particular clinic location, etc. Do I have to do this? Probably not, but it’s good practice for the job I want to eventually have (data analyst) and shows I can help the company make data-driven business decisions. I actually feel bad for the person who has to take over when I leave. I can just imagine management saying to them “Well, valaliane did it, you can do it too.” 😬

    5 months ago

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      SunglassesEmote

      Excel and SQL are useful, pick up one more tool that can take large amounts of data in CSV format like R or Python and you'll be golden.

      5 months ago

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    Clicking_Around

    That's legit beast.

    5 months ago

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    The_Northern_Light

    Congratulations on your internal locus of control!

    5 months ago

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    KoolKatKJ

    This was truly inspiring to read. I feel like my husband is where you were and I've been waiting for him to realize his potential. I'm sharing your story with him hoping he'll be just as inspired to own his talents.

    5 months ago

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    lilb2020

    Shit like this gets me hype. I'm trying to go down the Data Analyst/Engineer route this year and hope to level up from call center/customer service type gigs. Congrats!

    5 months ago

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    SnooHobbies6505

    Wow this is amazing. I feel like I am on a similar path as you. I also started at the bottom of the totem pole, even after graduating with a degree in IT/IS, but after realizing nobody owed me a job for my supposed "genius", I put my laziness behind me, and finally realized that my hard work, determination and perseverance were going to be my best tools to succeed. I went from help desk lead to jr sys admin, and just started as a jr network admin in 2 years. All because I called out myself on my bullshit, and that the only person truly holding me back was my ego. I'm still not where I want to be, but slowly but surely I am figuring it out. But I do have a question, how did you land the SRE position and what does your day-to-day look like? Also are you enjoying the position? Thanks again.

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Very cool, yeah the ego part was the hardest thing to overcome. Once you start getting stuff done, people notice. In my software support role, there was a huge hole/need for automation on the development workflow, basically nobody was doing it. So I built out an entire Ci/Cd platform basically from scratch, and used a lot of basic software engineering principals to make it maintainable, scalable and re-usable. They had been casually trying to make this happen for about 2 years, I finished it in 3 months. There's something about just getting stuff done that really stands out, I notice a lot of coworkers/peers give up about 70-80% of the way through a project and it never gets done.

      5 months ago

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    MyCatIsBored

    Would love to hear some similar stories from women

    5 months ago

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      whitefox00

      Me too. I feel like it’s difficult for women to break into the higher paying and/or management roles in IT. My current job (that I’m leaving) has multiple women in the customer support and helpdesk roles. A couple ladies have made it to the Development dept. But the employer refuses to promote or hire a woman to a management position. Even when they were the most qualified.

      5 months ago

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    MrStealYourCookies

    How did you manage with telling your prospective employer with moving around so much the past 3 years?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Honestly none of them seemed to care, I was always honest about my reasoning for moving, the last 3 jobs it's been because I want to do something that the current employer doesn't really value (Automation/Software engineering isn't that viable in the IT space because nobody can support the code and it's usually easier to just buy out of the box solutions) ​ I haven't actually experience any downside to job hopping every year so far, other than missing out on some un-vested equity, but the increase in salary more than makes up for that.

      5 months ago

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    dnguyen823

    If you don’t mind me asking? How old are you? Would help put stuff into perspective or motivate people if you’re older. Thanks

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      34, didn't spell it out but I failed to graduate college 7 years before 2017 :D

      5 months ago

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    highapplepie

    Thanks for sharing. As someone who went to college for 4 years without obtaining my a degree and literally failing college algebra every semester, it makes me feel better that we all go through it one way or another. Thanks for sharing your success and path of hard work.

    5 months ago

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    lucilou72

    >The key transition point for me, was to stop feeling like I was owed an amazing job, that someone would stumble upon me and marvel at my latent genius and ability...,,. Maybe that's obvious but I feel like a lot of people are stuck in a similar mindset, where they know they could dominate a job if only they were given the chance. The problem is, even if that is true, EVERYBODY says/thinks that. You have to actually prove it. This part is so true in jobs AND in interviews for jobs.

    5 months ago

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    luizhtx

    POV: you live in a good and stable country

    5 months ago

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    Nothing_

    Working to improve skills and add value on your downtime is a key trait I look for when hiring IT people. Shows leadership, drive, ability to learn new skills, etc. It's a good trait to have.

    5 months ago

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    Hardcore90skid

    I'm shocked because you got such a high up tech support with no background in IT, only some scripting or even got to start at all.

    5 months ago

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    GreatParker_

    Congrats. Any tips getting into IT?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Start in a remote call center, they have super high turnover (The job is pretty thankless) and you can usually get in as long as you know the basics (A+ cert if you don't)

      5 months ago

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    desexmachina

    Sounds like there’s some Ritalin/Adderall in there somewhere

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      I tried it once while in sales, didn't do anything for me other than make me sweaty uncomfortable. Naturally a bit manic.

      5 months ago

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    welcomecenter

    What’s a site reliability engineer?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Sometimes called DevOps, it's half system administration, half software engineer. Basically you try to glue together these two fields with automation.

      5 months ago

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    delacrimo

    This awesome, thanks for sharing your journey and insights! Also congrats on all your growth and finding something you enjoy!

    5 months ago

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    Phatbuffet

    This is so amazing to hear and inspiring! As someone who just started on their career after graduation with no family or much connections here in North America, sometimes a good future really seems impossible. I’m working rn at a job I absolutely hate, can’t wait to leave, but it’s hard making an industry jump. Hearing your story motivated me to keep working hard! So thanks.

    5 months ago

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    RichAdults

    U must be a good interviewee

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Real recognize real!

      5 months ago

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    Atomic_Maxwell

    Your retail job sounds eerily similar to my retail job— at Best Buy. We’re on ANOTHER 200 dollar membership program we have to shove down everyone’s throats, at all times, with personal metrics back on the menu. I just want to help people understand cool TV technology and smart home stuff. Despite that, I still make more being a lackey for unnecessary subscriptions than I did as a manager at my old job— but the guilt of wanting to leave because of that has long sapped up and I want to leave retail and never look back. I keep going home exhausted and subconsciously waiting for the opportunity to fall on my lap but that’s just not how it goes.

    5 months ago

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    Employed69

    Not sure how you get the jump i went through a similar jump myself in a year. Most people will say that this isn't normal but i assure you, this is.

    5 months ago

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    AudaciousGrin87

    we are the same person, My contract is about to end, and I can leave these frustrating lazy coworkers, and move on, now its my turn to make my software engineering dream a reality. Thanks man

    5 months ago

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    [deleted]

    [deleted]

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      I mean living through it for 4 years it didn't feel very black and white, there was a lot of time spent angry and resentful that I wasn't making progress when I was clearly outperforming everyone around me, I guess what I mean is patience and perseverance do pay off eventually, and if it's not working where you are currently you should look elsewhere. Job hunting is a huge pain in the ass so most people just don't do it, and stick where they're not getting the recognition they deserve. HR loves these people.

      5 months ago

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    Zennyzenny81

    Call Center work is often a great foot in the door to different positions in a company. Ya just gotta keep making those opportunities to get off the phones and into other roles!

    5 months ago

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    ClearlyVivid

    A lot of people need to just realize that you gotta take some time to pay your dues in some shitty jobs before new opportunities emerge. As long as you are constantly striving to improve your skillset you'll keep moving up. Congrats to you!

    5 months ago

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    temp0space

    Congrats! I think the big missing piece here is whether you live in a high or low COL area. $150k in SF, LA, or NY barely equals $40k in Atlanta or Kansas City.

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      True, for reference my rent is around $2300 which I split with my wife, if that helps.

      5 months ago

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    [deleted]

    [deleted]

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      I was picked from the existing pool of employees because I was the top performer, I didn't know that would happen when I decided to answer as many calls as I possibly could for 3 months. Paying it forward works, is the idea.

      5 months ago

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    CCNA_Expert

    That's an amazing!

    5 months ago

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    helladinero

    This was awesome to read. Your income progression is inspiring!

    5 months ago

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    Sk8trhtr

    Thank you so much for this.

    5 months ago

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    Nullhitter

    the smart but lazy finally stop being lazy. Congrats.

    5 months ago

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    ccczqqq

    When you apply for a new company, do you say you are still working at the present company on your resume?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Yeah, I don't see why you wouldn't. Whatever job I had I was using it to learn new skills and push it in the direction I wanted to go. Actually this last job they didn't even ask me for a resume, and I don't even have an updated one, they called me and it was some pretty intense technical/whiteboard coding interviews so I guess they don't really care how you got there, as long as you can do it!

      5 months ago

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    EcstaticAd5857

    Dope story bro

    5 months ago

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    nonetodaysu

    Congratulations. You deserve it!

    5 months ago

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    eos4

    just curious, when you apply for a new job, what reason do you give when they ask why are you leaving your current job?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      It's almost always because I'm more interested in the tech stack or work the next company is doing. For this move, it was a jump from supporting internal web applications for 30ish users, to a massive public application with millions of users. From a tech standpoint it's a much harder, and therefor more interesting to me.

      5 months ago

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    black_zubr17

    Posts like this are very inspirational. I'm in a transitional period myself and currently working through automating tasks at my analyst job. Maybe one day I'll get somewhere like you! Congrats on job!

    5 months ago

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    ek298

    Kinda proves you can be successful without a degree

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Absolutely. I spent a long time thinking I would never have a job like this, it catch up with my peers who did graduate. I'm ahead of a good chunk of them now haha.

      5 months ago

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    Royal-Progress

    👏👏👏👏

    5 months ago

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    klalbo

    Dm-ed

    5 months ago

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    ThisisIC

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I clicked in thinking it'll just be another fun read, but ended being really inspired.

    5 months ago

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    Atonisboss63

    ![gif](giphy|fs6rnt1K0YyVWRXNwY|downsized)

    5 months ago

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    getsharked2020

    That’s awesome

    5 months ago

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    junkiemonkies

    aaahhh im starting my online cs course next week and this is so motivational! all of it. love the accountability and responsibility refelctions

    5 months ago

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    jmcdonald354

    OP figured it out - methodically remove waste from the system. good job

    5 months ago

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    FloppingWeiners

    Congrats! I am in a similar situation, I got fired for the first time in January and just got hired this week to start in two weeks. My old job was absolutely draining, my new one has better hours, no weekends, 20% raise, and a much more lucrative commission structure. I can’t wait to start. Getting fired was the best thing to happen to me.

    5 months ago

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    UnrulyMicrophone

    AT&T?

    5 months ago

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    Grand-Boot

    Going through so many companies, did you get the question from HR as to why you've been job hopping so frequently? I've read that it seems to be the norm for IT people to job hop - even retention rates at Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are only a few years, but just curious on what you're response was when asked.

    5 months ago

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    jonstarks

    yea that blows that when you leave and that current employee matches when you're about to leave. So that whole time you were there, they had that money to pay you and they chose not to.

    5 months ago

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    Heero1988

    I wish I had studied more when my jobs were less demanding. It’s really hard when you hit that $90k range because the jobs are overloaded which also sucks cuz I’ll probs cap at $100k vs $150k

    5 months ago

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    ShineOnHomie

    Awesome story. I enjoyed reading it.

    5 months ago

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    kgwack

    Love this story and path.

    5 months ago

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    DorianGraysPassport

    This is an absolutely brilliant saga and I am thrilled for you.

    5 months ago

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    Voice-Fancy

    So did you have to go to school to work help desk ?

    5 months ago

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    dontcaredontworry

    My progression- Y0 $17.50 assembler (as a new immigrant) > Y1 Accountant $23 > Y3 $38 Accountant again . And because of certifications of course.

    5 months ago

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    HOLYREGIME

    > you have to bust your friggen ass and be underpaid for a long time to get what you want. Lmaoooo

    5 months ago

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    ZergEra

    How did you break into SRE? Did you have to get a certificate or learn a specific cloud like AWS?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      I was targeting software engineering roles from the start, learing to code, and ended up backing into it through IT by landing a support job that worked closely with developers. They needed DevOps practices implemented but didn't really know how to do it, so I started doing that even though it wasn't really my job title. Then it became my job title after about 6 months.

      5 months ago

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    Scullyx

    You had the right mindset at key moments with taking responsibility for your failures in school and not shifting blame, then getting yourself out of the rut and realizing opportunity and success isnt owed to you or will magically fall in your lap in the future but has to be seized and created. Well done.

    5 months ago

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    shanebagel

    What certs did you do along your path? Most important tips?

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      I only have AWS Cloud Practitioner, in general I didn't highly value certificates or online degrees, from what I've experienced actually building things from scratch on your own, and being able to talk about it puts you way ahead of the curve. The most important thing you can do is build something that you're interested in, so you stick with it and get it done. I learned way more by building things from scratch than I did in any online course or programming practice sites.

      5 months ago

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    usefulidiot_

    This was very inspiring, not everyone has their shit together and has everything planned out. I can definitely relate to this and I'm ready for the next step and position in my career. Thank you for sharing and congratulations it's well deserved.

    5 months ago

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    Juking-into-hits

    I'm trying to do this but i've been inactive for over a year. My new goal is to work in the customer service industry and grind out the hours and work my butt off and not stress. Hopefully it goes well and I can upskill and get promoted but I just need that one job first haha.

    5 months ago

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    follow_her_lantern

    This reads like you think anyone can attain a 6-figure job because you did. I'm happy for your success, and I can agree that not enough people understand that you need to demonstrate competence at a job *before* obtaining it. But there are a lot fewer 6-figure jobs than there are bums with untapped potential.

    5 months ago

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      DrJ_Zoidberg

      Agreed, I think there's always room to improve on whatever scale is relevant to your life using the same concepts though. That said, I haven't met a company where I feel like I'm not the smartest person there. Hopefully that changes with the new gig, I should have been here 7 years ago so it's like a, catching up the hard way sort of path.

      5 months ago

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    CanibalAid

    What programming language did you focus on? I’m teaching myself as well. Hoping to land a job in a year or 2

    5 months ago

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    micagames

    This makes me feel better. I’m 24 with a BA in English. I have chronic pain and am limited in my job search. I graduated in 2019 and haven’t been able to land a single job. Thank you for sharing your story! Hopefully life turns around sometime soon.

    5 months ago

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    Honest_Tie_1980

    That’s amazing! But what about all the other people who have no interest or skills in software development or IT. I couldn’t imagine a career in it.

    5 months ago

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    mythrowawaypdx

    Whats the minimum amount of time that you stayed at each job? I increased my income 30% two years ago which helped me escape poverty but I haven't been able to earn more money. My new job is great and supportive and pays great for the title but it's not enough. I'd like to earn 40% more which means I need a new title.

    5 months ago

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