I worked in the same building as another division in my organization, and they found out I had created a website for my group. They said, “We have this database that was never finished. Do you think you could fix it?”

I asked, “What was it developed in?”
He replied, “Well what do you know?”
I said, “LAMP stack: PHP, MySQL, etc.” [this was over a decade ago]

He excitedly exclaimed, “Yeah, that’s it! It’s that S-Q-L stuff.”

I’m a little nervous at this point but I was younger than 20 with no degree, entirely self-taught from a book, and figured I’d check it out - no actual job offer here yet or anything.

They logged me on to a Windows 2000 Server and I become aware it’s a web application written in VB / ASP.NET 2.0 with a SQL Server backend. But most of the fixes they wanted were aesthetic (spelling errors in aspx pages, etc.) so I proceeded to fix those. They hired me on the spot and asked when I could start. I was a wizard to them and most of what they needed was quite simple (at first). I kept my mouth shut and immediately went to a bookstore after work that day and bought an ASP.NET book.

I worked there several years and ended up rewriting that app in C# and upgrading the server and ASP.NET framework, etc. It stored passwords in plaintext when I started and much more horrific stuff. It was in much better shape when I left.

That job was pivotal in my career and set the stage for me to be where I am today. I got the job because I used the word “SQL” in a sentence.

  • 4
    Far better to learn why incompetence is so dangerous in an environment like that at the beginning of your career rather than later on.
  • 19
    For my next call with a recruiter, I'm gonna mutter random technologies and tell them to stop me when they hear a technology they know xD
  • 7
    @rantsauce be sure the words “flux capacitor” get mingled in, and hopefully that’s where they stop you.
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