I'm not sure if I have been tagged by anyone, but this is such an interesting topic I thought I would jump in.
Turning my hobby into a career
I decided to be a pharmacist when I was 15 years old because I thought you needed to be in a health profession to really help people. I loved science and math and thought this would be the perfect career for me. At least at my high school, computers for the students hadn't arrived so I had no idea that I would love working with them so much. When I was in grade school, I would do solve every problem and do every excercise in my math textbook by the end of Christmas vacation for fun, so I have always loved logic and solving problems.
Late in my college years I took the only computer class offered. We were lucky that year because the college purchased 3 TRS-80 computers for the class to use. I was the only person in the class interested in doing more than just typing programs from books. I was hooked on programming! Soon after graduating, my husband wanted to buy a home computer, the TI 994A. I ended up learning TI BASIC and writing several useful programs for our home.
Eventually, what we then called IBM compatible compters were affordable and we bought our first PC running DOS. Windows 3.1 was available, but we didn't have it on that first computer. I think I then learned GW-BASIC and DOS batch programming.
It wasn't long before I started learning Visual Basic 4 and started figuring out how I could change careers. The local university had several classes that users in the community could take for a small fee without credit. I ended up taking a 400 level C++ class and did pretty well in it. I was also doing some volunteer work, setting up a database for a charity auction. I really didn't enjoy pharmacy at all and was willing to take a cut in pay to become a programmer.
I started working part time for my brother creating database-driven web sites using ASP. This was early 1997, and ASP had just been released. I had no idea that I was on the cutting edge. After working in both careers for 10 months, I got a full time programming job. I think it would have taken longer if it wasn't for Y2K. I remember looking at the employment section of the Sunday paper every week. There were always several pages of IT jobs. Sadly, now there are just a couple listed. There are still jobs out there, and with the Internet finding a job has changed, but it still was cool seeing all those jobs listed every week.
A fun party
In 2001, I found myself in a 6 month programming assignment at a law firm, Bryan Cave. I was also working on my Master's degree, thinking that as a self-taught person there was a lot for me to learn. Even though I was a consultant, I was invited to the IS holiday party that year. I had so much fun at that party and really liked the people I was working with, that I decided that I would like to stay at Bryan Cave if I got the chance. When the DBA position opened up, I applied and got the job. I considered dropping out of the degree program once I was hired at Bryan Cave, but decided to stay with it since I could teach once I got the degree. I also decided to start writing articles for SQLServerCentral.com once my degree was complete.
So, I still make less money than a pharmacist at a retail chain like Walgreens, but I am so happy! I also learned that any job performed well does help others, not just health care. All I can say is that I followed my heart, and I'm glad I did.