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Chapter 4: Early Career


Opening Quote  

Buddha never said that "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it." I consider it good advice anyway ;-)

Failed Projects before iText

These are the original slides of my presentation "4 Failures and 1 Hit":

First Employer

My first employer was TRASYS (but ownership of the company changed since I left).

"Database Underground Flanders" still exists: Databank Ondergrond Vlaanderen.
This is a publication by TRASYS about the project:
Databank Ondergrond Vlaanderen Databank Ondergrond Vlaanderen Databank Ondergrond Vlaanderen
Heidi De Maeyer was the project leader and functional analyst; Erwin Van Hees was the developer; I was the technical analyst and developer.

Second Employer

My second employer was The Reference. Ownership of this company has changed many times since I left.

Third Employer

This is the paper I wrote while working for my third employer (TRASYS again; I was outsourced to the Ministry of the Flemish Community):
Research Paper GIS

Fourth Employer

This is the original job advertisement for my Job at my fourth employer, Ghent University:
Job Advertisement Ghent University
The year salary was nice: between 1.047.141 and 1.561.808 Belgian francs (depending on your anciennity).
That's between €26,178 / $31,413 and €39.045 / $111,654. I started at 1,097,353 Belgian francs (€27,434 / $32,921).
Knowledge of UNIX, C, and Perl was mandatory.

When I applied for the job at Ghent University, I had sufficent experience with C, some experience with UNIX, and no experience with Perl. Before the job interview, I bought a book about Perl, and read it in one weekend.
Perl 5 Interactive Course

First Jobs: Salary

While doing research for my book, I dug up my old contracts, and I looked at the gross salary I was paid for my first jobs:

Evolution of my Salary (Early Career)
Company Start date Belgian francs Euro/month Dollar/month
TRASYS (Argius) April 1997 75,212 BEF / month €1,880 $2,256
The Reference November 1997 80,000 BEF / month €2,000 $2,400
TRASYS February 1998 85,913 BEF / month €2,148 $2,578
Ghent University November 1998 1,097,353 BEF / year ~€2,286 ~$2,743

Take into account that the personal income tax in Belgium is quite high (somewhere between 40 and 50 percent) and that I didn't take the inflation into account when converting Belgian francs to euro and dollar.

The website, created by Durk Jan de Bruin, still exists and it still has that late nineties internet look.

My died a silent death. Google didn't exist yet, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can find an archived version :
screenshot website 2001 screenshot website 2001

Book Quotes  

  • A software expert is a developer with a manual.
  • Envy is never a good reason to start a business, and it’s stupid to try to copy someone’s idea if you can’t add value to the original concept.

Movie References  

The first paragraph has a reference to the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).

Buy Four Weddings and a Funeral on Amazon .com / / .fr / .de

Soundtrack for this Chapter  

I listen to music, but my taste in music is questionable. I've selected a handful of songs for every chapters. Sometimes, there's a link to the chapter, sometimes I just like the song.

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