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In Response to An Accidental Career:
I was working at an insurance company as a medical claims examiner and my next career came about due to boredom. There was an announcement that the company was looking for a computer-programming trainee, an exam would be given on a specific date, and anyone interested in taking the test should register with personnel. A group of us decided that a day out of the office wasn’t such a bad idea. We went and took the test. There was a lot of math and logic on the test. There was also an artificial computer language and we were asked to solve programming problems using this language.
About a week later, I received a letter from personnel stating that I had the highest score and was being offered a position as a computer-programmer trainee. There was, however, a big catch. The position was in Chicago, there was no increase in pay and there was no relocation assistance. Naturally, I declined. Then I started thinking that if I could pass this test, I could pass another. I started making telephone calls and the day I turned down the offer, I made an appointment to take an aptitude test for another company, two blocks away from where I was working. When I went the next week to take the test, I found that it was the same test I had just taken. I was offered a trainee position with a healthy raise. At my old company, I was earning $6,900 a year and I was being offered $7,500. this was in 1968 and I accepted and since it was late December, the company decided that it would be easier record keeping if I started at the beginning of the year, so I started my training January 3 or 4, 1969.
The computers of that time were gigantic in physical size, but small in terms of memory. I started working on a System 360. This was a room-sized machine with very limited memory - 512K. All input was via cards. You wrote a program, punched or had it punched onto cards. The cards were read into the computer and your program was executed. Computers ran one program at a time. If another program was running, your program could not begin execution until the first program terminated.
At the time, there were no Computer Science or Management Information Systems courses. They gave me a stack of books, about 4 feet high (literally). I read all the books over the course of several weeks and was sent to IBM for a one-week practicum. Abracadabra! I was a computer programmer. I was writing in COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language), a high-level language designed for business solutions. Computer programmers tended to be somewhat introspective (strange). One of the things a programmer had to do was name data points in each program, so you could write code like “Gross minus Deductions equals Net”. We had one programmer who insisted on using strange names. The data points in some programs were all fruits; others were vegetables or foreign languages. That was fine for him, but God help the programmer who had to make changes to one of these programs. (Apple times Banana gives Strawberry). They finally fired him when he used an Atlas of Vermont to determine data points for his next program. Of course, the fact that he walked around with a soggy chewed-on handkerchief hanging out of his mouth didn’t help.
I found that I really loved the world of IT and stayed in in for the rest of my working career. From January, 1969 until December, 2002 I was professionally employed in some full-time capacity in IT.
After retirement in 2002, I continued to work part-time in training. Not too bad for a career that started because I was bored at work. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn't been bored?
Posted by cjmurano
I read with great interest how you turned a lemon into lemonade..Taking the first step which proved to be the springboard for a different direction that became your life work..Had you given up after declining the first job offer in Chicago..would have been a grave mistake..but you proceeded to delve into the next process and low and behold you found your niche..Congratulations to you for your perserverance and giving the readers the message.. hope is not lost when faced with adversity or being stuck in a job that is unrewarding...go after that goal..and prepare for it...