Saturday, August 4, 2012

Week 31 of 2012 - What I want to do when I grow up

Another interesting topic... And I think I will follow it with another question....Am I grown up yet? I suppose if you look at my age you would say that I am indeed grown up but I don't think I am really any closer to the answer today as I was when I was 8 years old and had a discussion with Grandpa Smith about it. I can not remember exactly how the topic got started. I suspect that it may have been brought up by me. I must have seen or read something which gave me the inspiration...It was summer and we were outdoors enjoying a picnic. I can remember the day like it was yesterday. Grandpa was in his wheel chair and I was standing next to him. I piped up with....”I want to be an Oceanographer or an Archeologist.. “ I stated with all the enthusiasm of an 8 year old...”Oh,” Grandpa said rather surprised by my proclamation. “How can you do that when we don't live by the Ocean...not sure that there are any ruins here either...” he questioned....and in an instant, I realized he was right...I was disappointed. 

That was the first time I think I realized that there were these unspoken rules. Rules like woman became nurses, school teacher, mothers, and ladies who worked in retail. Woman did not become scientist, Oceanographers, Archeologist, doctors, lawyers and you get the idea... As I look back at this event, I can't help but wonder why the eight year old did not say “ Well, I'll just move to the Ocean! Or the Indians lived here before we did or I'll go live in Arizona...” Once again you get the idea. I did not question what my parents or Grandparents said...I guess I must have thought that they knew best. In 1963, we were not the mobile society that we have become. In Grandpa's generation and even my parents, people usually stayed close to other family members and found work nearby. Mothers stayed home with their children until they were through school and then maybe they got a job if they wanted to or needed to.

SO I continued through high school getting pretty good grades. I was in college prep courses with no college aspirations in sight. I became a mother before I finished high school. After taking a semester off of school because the school system did not let pregnant teens go to school, I went back to school and got my diploma. I guess the school district did not think that pregnant teens could still learn! No really the truth is, the system did not want me (being pregnant) to corrupt the young minds of the other kids. I was an inappropriate example. So glad that finally things have changed.

Years later when I was home with my kids...and we lived from pay check to pay check. I did everything I could to cost effectively buy food and clothes for my family and each month we got further and further behind. So I went to Control Data Institute to become a Computer Technician. Why Control Data, You ask? Because they advertized on TV  that I could do it!   Because it only took 9 months and then I could get a good job. Seriously, that is why I went...oh a friend of my husband thought I would be good at it... And he took the course a year or two before and he got a good job. The company that he worked for was growing quickly and they had lots of open positions! So the truth is out. That is how I made my decision about my career.

Now if you notice, I did not exactly go after the woman's usual job. I looked at Nursing...I volunteered at the Lapeer County hospital for about a year when my children were small. It was a test because I thought maybe I could become a nurse. After a year, I decided that it was too draining for me. Many times I arrived at the hospital to find that a patient whom I had become fond of had died. I wear my emotions out in PUBLIC. I could not get past it even after a year. I simply got too emotionally involved with the patients. So nursing was not for me...SO I went to school, finished in 6 months instead of 9 and became a computer technician in 1980. I fixed machines who did not have emotions. I would learn quickly that the Data Center managers did though and they did not like it when their equipment was broken!

When I was employed by StorageTek, my employee number was 27374 so there were at least 27374 employees hired with the company before me and four or five thousand were field employees like me. Of those 5000 field employees, I was the 28th female field engineer to be hired by StorageTek. Working with all those men was not easy. The male egos is enormous and was often my worst enemy whether it was a coworker or a customer. The attitudes were all the same. “What is she doing here?” I was naive,stubborn and determined that I was going to do my job as well as any man could. I had no clue what I was getting myself into and it was probably the best thing for me. I knew nothing about the way corporations ran their businesses, I had a job to do and I was going to do it...period..Years later some of my friends, all men of course, said I was like a steam roller when I came to town. I did not realize. I was a small mid western gal with a job to do. 

This is the only training session I ever had with another woman.  Her name was Robin.
I worked with two of companies through my 28 year computer career. I was not the type who jumped from job to job.  I was a dedicated employee in the days of when if you did a good job and took care of your company and it's reputation, your company took care of you too!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think 28 years ago that technology could progress forward at the speed at which it has.
Today I am sitting in front of a laptop which has more computing power than all of my customers data centers from all my StorageTek days combined! I worked in rooms the size of football fields and my laptop is more powerful! I also thought that there would always be computer jobs. Sadly Corporate America sold us out. In their global race to produce bigger, faster, cheaper, they decided it was more cost effective to outsource so they did. I am not alone, there are many of us, unemployed Americans who just want to work. It has been over 4 years.

So now back to the question of the week, what do I want to do when I grow up? And I ask you again, Am I grown up now? I think I need to learn to do something different. I love to learn and I love to help others.  I am not competitive.  I do not want to stress out over a high pressure career.  I am older and wiser. So stay tuned!

Love, Jan

1 comment:

  1. And Jan, you will figure it out. The best part is you never stop learning, there is always a challenge or two (!) out there and you will be busy until your days are done. Thanks for your inspiration. LOVE YOU! pam