Every once in a while, I find myself saying to someone, “I used to be a computer programmer.” And when I say it, the memories of my fifteen year career download and play in my mind for a few minutes.
It was 1994 when I left the job, but the memories linger. There were good times and bad times; and as I raise my girls, I try to categorize each experience to pass on to them - preparation for “Corporate America” - a place where they might start their careers, too.
I went in blindly - the child of blue collar workers - with not a clue of what to expect. Yes, I’d been “taught” what to expect, and did an internship, but, well…
It took some time to get used to the “team” concept. An independent spirit, I had to learn to trust people, but not get trampled on. My easy-to-read, error free programming code was a definite asset, but not enough. I needed to love the company and learn the business; love the meetings and care about what the company stood for and how it made its money. Did that happen? Well…not really, or not enough. I loved the technical, but struggled here and there with the rest.
My introduction to computers started when I was a high school senior in need of electives. A friend told me she was taking Data Processing at the vocational center and that it would be three credits. “Hmmm…one class, three credits…a bus ride off campus.”
She tried to explain what it was, and I blindly (I do a lot of things blindly) signed up too. Turned out I had a knack for it, and when the teacher said I could make $7,000 right out of high school or go to college and make $12,000, I thought, “Sounds good.” It was 1975 and most teachers hardly made $12,000.
There was no question about going to college; my parents, especially mom, had planted the “college seed” when I was still in diapers. It grew, I did my four years, and in 1979 was employed at an annual salary of $13,500. Woo hoo! Fifteen years later, in 1994, it had more than quadrupled.
Good money for a single lady. Had the house, the car, mutual funds, savings, a few nice suits, a great eating-out allowance and enough to hop on a plane for a vacation.
Do I appreciate those years?
Was I fulfilled with my skill and knowledge?
Do I miss the career, the pay check, and the nice suits?
If I had it to do all over again, would I be a computer programmer?
I don’t know.
It’s hard to erase part of a life that has landed me in a comfortable place.
There are people who are passionate about their jobs and always have been. How fortunate they are to wake up most days with anticipation; to get paid for doing something they love.
I felt that way when I was in control of a project that was going well, yet at other times, I wondered how I could continue with the same career until I was sixty-something and retired.
My occupation afforded me a financially sound life, but is money enough? Does every surgeon crave the next patient to mend? Does every lawyer get excited as more and more business comes in? Is every best selling author thrilled to promote his or her book on the TV talk show circuit? Are the average John and Mary Doe happy with their average jobs and average salaries, and their good middle class lifestyle?
Hmmm….if it was only that easy.
Many people are currently unemployed or desperately holding on to jobs. They (you) may see this post as moot. Keep in mind…things change.
Have you changed careers/occupations during your adult years? What did you “used to be?”
Would you like to do something else now?
If you haven’t read my post titled, “Passion,” click over if you'd like.