I was lucky: I landed a job at for the _California State University, Office of the Chancellor in the now non-existant South Western Research Laboratory (SWRL). The department I worked for received a donation of 2 AT&T 3B2/600 mini-computers, a bunch of (useless?) AT&T 3B1 computers and well as a bunch of Apple Macs.
The 3B2/600, where I spent the majority of my, was donated to host a bulletin board for California K-12 educators. The bulletin board would allow any teacher in California State school system to setup and use the bulletin board system.
Despite knowing absolutely nothing about Unix or C programming, I was hired to be the Unix System Administrator for these computers and eventually write a bulletin board, which would become my first significant software development project.
Unix SysVR3 System Administration
The AT&T 3B2 family ran the Unix System v3 Operating System. It came with a suite of tools including a C compiler and large stacks of manuals. We had no Internet at the time, no Google. I buried myself in the computer room and went through those manuals time and time again. I got to know the Operating System, bash scripts, shell scripts and C programming really well.
My single biggest accomplishment was writing Bulletin Board System for California state K-12 educators, would allow anybody in the educational system to setup a simple bulletin board system to share and consume whatever material they wanted.
The bulletin board system needed to be simple to use, and it was. It basically followed the natural Unix directory structure. Every directory or file in a directory were treated as a menu item. If the user selected a menu item that was a directory a sub-menu would be displayed. If the user selected a menu item that was a file, the file contents were displayed using the Unix more command.
I used curses to draw the menus and accept keyboard inputs on standard old tty terminals (i.e. vt100).
The bulletin board system was eventually replaced by gopher. Gopher was eventually replaced by HTTP, the rest, as they say is history.
This was a part time job I worked while still attending CSULB and working toward my BSCS degree.
Important side note: Sun Microsystems had donated a Sun3 Unix workstation, of the BSD 4.2 variety. This was my first experience with BSD flavor of Unix, which would become my favorite, for which I would become a hardcore devotee. The Sun Workstation was also the first Unix machine I had seen that had a full on GUI, similar to the Mac.
That would be the driving force of my first full time Job in Aerospace, and set the trajectory for the rest of my career (even to this day).