I had a boring job at a contract lab in Switzerland. It was the middle of winter in 1998. I installed slackware on a laptop and learned C and Perl. I moved back to California to another boring job, but kept up. After two years and a lot of work, I became the head of bioinformatics at a startup biotech company. I taught Perl and bioinformatics courses at the local universities, but have stayed in industry ever since. I picked up a lot of skills along the way, from building HPC pipelines on clusters, RDBMS (postgres), serving up information through LAMP, and building novel pattern recognition and visualization systems.
Linux is now second nature and my whole family uses it for computing and on various devices around the house. I can't imagine going without it