December of 2003. Being a student I found a classified ad glued to a pillar in one of our university’s educational buildings. The company called “DesertRain Lab” was looking for a “webmaster”. No specifics, just a webmaster. After having an interview they said – yes, we will hire you still not telling what kind of job that is.
Somehow I managed to get that information from two big bosses – my duty was to search for rather big online household appliances stores, dig into their pages, look into their positions for keywords in different search engines and based on that write them an email. I needed to tell them they are doing pretty bad and our company has got a product which will rapidly improve their search engine optimization therefore increasing their sales to unbelievable levels!
I still was a student, had to attend a lot of classes so we agreed I would come to work whenever I have time with some hours intersecting with the bosses. I would be paid $1 per hour which was insane amount compared to my scholarship of $5 a month.
The product itself did kind of work using both black and white SEO tactics to optimize web site performance.
So I managed to make some crazy schedules to end up with 160 hours a month for my new webmaster job. I was working at different times from 8 am to 1 am, 7 days a week, combining it with my study.
At the end of the month I managed to make exactly 160 hours! I was so happy – my first job and I am gonna be rich now! However the bosses double checked thoroughly all the accounting and weren’t that happy. The real programmers writing the product were earning something like $100 per month with bug fixing time not taken into account in the final check.
So they started to analyze the traffic produced from my account (which it appears was routed through logging proxy). Apart from the actual search requests and visiting some crappy online stores they found out that I dared to use that internet connection to not only work but also to dilute my endless boredom. Even though the numbers for the mails and sites were fine I was given 2 alternatives: either I get $100 and we continue to work or they pay me $160 and we say good bye to each other.
The choice was tough – continue to do some ‘webmaster’ stuff for many more months for a hundred dollars a month or quit and take my first honestly earned $160. The choice was obvious. By getting a check I lost super valuable New Year’s gift from the company – free visit to russian sauna. Well, that was it.
While recovering from that story I was thinking it’s going to be a lot more of such companies that I would be forced to work for until I get some good programming experience. That was sad. However the first company I came for the interview after that was a decent one – I got a good job, office and attitude. However the check was lower – only $150.
So this is how my programming carrier officially started. How about yours?