- 10 years old: I was asked “What do you want to be …”
- 18: My second semester of college was a disaster;
- 24: Top of the world,,, an IBM employee;
- 41: An aha moment: on 8/2/83 I knew immediately what I wanted to do with the rest of my career with IBM.
- Present - My LifeWork
- Thirteen job changes
(Bot) When I was about ten years old, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and it didn't take me long to reply "doctor". To this day, I still wonder where that came from because no one (not even my parents) ever counseled me on career paths. Dad was an engineer and mom a housewife and neither offered any career advice. The only thing that I can recall is that I wanted to make a lot of money and I wanted to be respected.
When I was 14, my eighth grade class took some kind of a test to determine if we were "college material". My teacher reviewed the results and told my parents that it would be a struggle for me but I could succeed if I applied myself. Of course I chose a high school curriculum that prepared me for college and medical school, but the only guidance I received through my grade school and high school years was dad telling me that I had to graduate from college. I learned later that he never graduated, even after doing night school 15 years later. It was a very sensitive subject.
We didn't have any money for my college expenses so I had to choose a relatively inexpensive state college. And since I didn’t want to be too far from home, I chose Rutgers, in New Brunswick, NJ. During high school, I worked evenings and weekends to save for college. During college, I got summer jobs, and in my junior and senior year, I worked part time at the campus. Throughout my college years, I got college loans. It took me about eight years to pay them off after I graduated. I considered trying for a scholarship, but I wasn't smart enough. I never realized that there were scholarships that had nothing to do with your intelligence.
(Top) My first semester appeared easy and I was surprised to be getting good grades. The second semester was a disaster. I discovered girls (late bloomer) and flunked both English and German, and did poorly in the other courses. It didn’t help that I also discovered a passion for singing and joined three university choruses. In my sophomore year I was placed on academic probation and could not participate in any activities including singing. I became very depressed. For the first time ever, I sought a school counselor. We spent less than 15 minutes together. I asked him what degree I could pursue that would allow me to still graduate in 1964. (I did not want to spend any more time in college than I had to.) He said the only degree that would be available was Psychology. I told him to sign me up.
I spent the next year and half getting modestly better grades and by my junior year was off academic probation. I could sing again.
I was smart to elect ROTC in my freshman year, and when I graduated and got my 2nd Lieutenant’s commission, I was immediately assigned to Fort Monmouth, NJ. I spent my entire two year tour working as an administrative assistant to one of the chief civilian officers in the Production and Procurement (P&P) Directorate. It was a great job. As my tour was winding down, I composed my resume and mailed it to most of the top fifty (50) companies - except IBM. I figured that I didn’t have a chance with IBM because of my grades, Psychology degree and no computer experience. Actually, I knew nothing about computers although there were a few days in my senior year when I learned about and was fascinated with hexadecimal binary and hexadecimal notation. It was a hint of a basic interest that would later develop.
(Top) (Bot) After being turned down by everyone, I decided I had nothing to lose so I sent my resume to IBM. Two weeks later I got a telegram inviting me to come to New York for an interview in the contracts administration department. Apparently, they saw the "procurement" side of the job I was in and thought I knew contracts. Anyway, they wanted someone to help write and manage contracts with non-IBM contract programmers from around the country. I must have said something right because they made me an offer. I couldn’t believe it. I was at the top of the world. In June, 1966, at the age of 24, I became an IBM employee.
I worked as a contract administrator for three years. Several of my contracts were negotiated by Dr. Frank Minor (an IBMer) with Dr. Tiedeman working on career guideance systems. I was to reacquaint myself with Frank at an NCDA conference in 2002, and Dr. Tiedmann's wife (Anna) at another NCDA conference in 2005.
In 1969, I was getting bored with contracts administration so I interviewed with the Human Factors department and worked there for a year. I wasn’t going to go anywhere unless I got an advanced degree so I returned to the contracts department. Our secretary received a new electronic typewriter that was connected to the main frame computer and one day I watched her type in canned paragraphs to compose a contract. I was fascinated with it and asked for and got the same typewriter in my office to “play” with. One day I noticed a name of a file called BASIC and executed it. It was a program that helped the user create his own programs. I wrote a simple routine that looped and printed out sequential numbers and I was hooked. I wanted to write programs. But I couldn’t have picked a worst time in IBM’s history because no department was hiring. I had a great manager and he called me into his office one day to change my life. He said “You won’t believe this, but there is a manager in the other side of this building who desperately needs a new programmer to train and work on a new project and he thinks you would be perfect.” After eight weeks of training to learn Assembler language, I wrote my first program for a new IBM product.
In the fall of 1973, I met Heidi at an IBM bowling league. She worked in the same building. We dated for about six months and one day she told me that she was offered an assignment on a new IBM project in Boca Raton, Florida. Her manager knew the ins and outs of transferring unmarried couples and we moved there in July of 1975. It was HOT and HUMID and I did not like it. At one point, I even worked for Heidi for about 6 months while she tried out her new “management” wings. (She didn’t like it.) I was bored and hardly did anything. But I did learn a new programming language (REXX) that was to be my favorite. Luckily, within six months (1976), the entire project was moved to Austin, Texas.
Three years later (1979), Heidi said she wanted to talk to me about her dissatisfaction with her job in Austin. She said she got an offer to work in San Francisco and we moved to San Mateo (commuting to SF) in May of 1979. That also proved to be a mistake for both of us and, in September of 1981, we interviewed for jobs in two different labs in San Jose. I worked at the famed Santa Teresa lab for about six years going from a build group (IMS), to a support group. It was here that I had my first major encounter with the idea of career development and planning.
(Top) (Bot) In 1983, at the age of 41, I was becoming very dissatisfied with my current job. My manager recommended that I go to a new career development class that a second-line manager was starting. She was a wonderful instructor and very knowledgeable about career development. In one of the classes, I struggled to sort my interests with paper and pencil and at that instant said to myself “Here we are working for the largest computer manufacturer in the work, and I am sorting this list with paper and pencil – when I could be doing it with a computer.” And then it hit me like a bolt of lighting. It was one of those aha moments. On 8/2/83 I knew immediately what I wanted to do with the rest of my career with IBM. I wanted to design and develop a program to do career development and planning and job matching.
Once again, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to want to make a transition. But once again, I had a great manager, and he persuaded another manager (whose department wrote code for personnel and education) to talk to me. She gave me an offer and I accepted. It was the perfect place to do what I wanted to do and my manager was excited about my ideas. However, she said I would need to work on her projects for a few years before she could help me venture into what I wanted to do. While in that job, I designed many parts of my dream system on my own time, went to several conferences held by Dick Bolles and joined the Association of Computer Based Systems for Career Information (ACSCI).After three years of waiting, I decided to accept an early retirement offer so I could get Heidi out of San Jose.
Heidi had gotten a disability retirement a few years earlier because her MS had made it impossible for her to contentrate and remember. And since San Jose was becoming too congested, etc, we decided to search for our “final” home. In 1994, we found our paradise on Marrowstone Island in Puget Sound, 60 miles north of Seattle and I spent the next four years building our home. As soon as it became comfortable to live in, Heidi asked that we buy an RV to do some traveiling. I chose to convert a bus, and in 1998, we began to make 3-4 month trips around the country, visitng family and friends. I installed an Interenet dish on the roof so we could stay connected no matter where we were.
(Top) I had joined the ACSCI listserv in 1990 and it had very little activity until Jan of 2000 when someone commented about the new job bank company called Monster.com. It was at that moment that I became more active within ACSCI, then later joined NCDA and began thinking again about my passion for career planning and developement systems.
In 2004, I created several Yahoo groups to provide a place where career professionals could interact and discuss career issues. In 2005, the NCDA President asked if I would consider finding a less commercial-appearing discussion board and I found, installed and managed NCDA Forums using a proprietary system. At the 2005 NCDA conference in Orlando, I received the President’s Recognition Award “For his individual vision, energy, and persistence in developing and managing the NCDA forums project.“ In October, 2006, the NCDA Board decided to withdraw support because of perceived lack of use by the career development community.
In June of 2005 I discovered a new state-of-the-art Open Source blogging platform called Elgg that was very appealing to the education industry. Since career development and planning is personal education, I saw a connection and decided to have a version of it installed on a server and, on 2/6/2006, LifeWork Planning Services (LWPS) was born.
At this moment (April, 2008), I am adding an infrastructure to LWPS that will assist members in their lifework/career planning activities.
In the 30 years between my graduation from college and retirement, I have changed jobs 13 times. It wasn't until I was 41 and had my 11th job change that I attended a career planning workshop and learned about the importance of making informed and considered careeer decisons. Just one simple activity of listing and prioritzing my values, interests, and skills and summarizing them on one page brought a clarity that I had never experienced before.
(Top) 13 job changes between graduating from college and retiring.
- 1964 - US Army Office assistant
- 1965 - US Army Assistant to ...
- 1966 - IBM New York: Contracts administrator
- 1969 - Human Factors
- 1970 - Purchasing and contracts administration
- 1971 - Associate programmer
- July 1975 Florida: Associate Programmer
- July 1976 Texas: Associate Programmer
- April 1979 San Francisco: Systems Engineer
- May 1981 San Jose: Senior Associate Programmer
- Staff Programmer
- Advisory Programmer
- July 31, 1992 - Early (bridge) retirement from IBM and start (October) on LWPS
- July 31, 1996 - Officially retired from IBM (Heidi retired 1/31/2005)
(Top) Three (3) Occupations within IBM and two (2) after I took early retirement from IBM
- 1964-1966 Administrative assistant (ONET 43-1011.00)
- 1966 - Contracts adminisrator (ONET 13-1023.00)
- 1971 - Programmer (ONET 15-1021.00)
- 1994 - Construction contractor (ONET 11-9021.00)
- 1996 - Retiree - working more than ever on stuff I love - my LifeWork - this LifeWork Planning Services platform (ONET aspects of 21-1012.00 - Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors)
(Top) Other key dates not mentioned above
- 10/4/83 - took Encompass (career development) workshop
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