I got my first-ever job as a web designer, building accessible websites with PHP and CSS. Then I taught myself PHP and MySQL and built an office intranet, billing system, and project management portal cutom-tailored to my office's needs. That was a student position.
When I graduated, I took a position supporting University financial applications. I taught myself ColdFusion and Oracle PL/SQL, and within a year took over as Team Lead/Project Manager for the Electronic Deposit application, tying together data from five banks and countless University departments, managing hundreds of thousands of database records.
Now I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, developing the backend infrastructure and stretching my skills on server management. It's been an adventure so far, and it'll be an adventure to come.
Let's go high-level.
Coming to programming via Lingusitics is an exercise in commonalities. Human and computer languages are closer siblings than you might realize: they're all syntax, semantics, and formal logic. Computer languages are a linguist's playground. Trust me, once you've dealt with Sanskrit sandhi, even the quirks of ColdFusion spring into perspectve. (5>=0 error, anyone? In Sanskrit, I dealt with phrases like "corresponding homorganic nonsyllabic semivowel." Once you can parse that, you can parse anything.)
For the five years of my undergraduate education at the University of Iowa, I worked at the Iowa Memorial Union's award-winning office of Marketing and Design. Starting early, I worked on interactive systems with PHP and MySQL - content management, project management, public housing listings, etc. I taught myself the basics of PHP/MySQL, and developing in a demanding environment taught me the rest – why never to use an enum field, the power of double variables, the importance of modularization...
After leaving that student position, I migrated over the the University's central HR building and took up a position in Information Management, Finance & Operations, where I worked on financial applications using ColdFusion and Oracle PL/SQL. I've recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I'm looking for work in a challenging and collaborative environment.