Ha! I started my career 20 years ago and started with R3500 flat. Working for a little "startup" from a guy's home. No formal training (in programming), so it's what I could get.I think it was stated more metaphorically. To put things in perspective, I started a paid apprenticeship 16years ago and started out my career with R2000 less after my training
It was a long hard road to get where I am now where I earn quite a decent salary. Worth it? I just don't know to be honest. I can't imagine taking a different approach. I didn't even have my own home internet for the first 5 years of my career. Couldn't afford it. Of course knowing what I know now I would have done things vastly different. The amount of debt I built up during the first 10 years of my career would have been enough to pay for a uni degree after all. Which I could probably pay back within 2-3 years of starting at a decent job. But I just didn't know. Didn't even have a clue about what I didn't know.
It was sometimes like that back in the day. Aspirant devs coming from families with internet and some connections, maybe even members of the families who were themselves technical professionals, rose like shooting stars. For those coming from the technological boonies it was a non stop slog. It took real will and perseverance.
Even poor kids these days do not know how privileged they really are.