Role Models




Consultant - IBM mainframe-based computer systems programming specialist. I work with the operating systems of large mainframe-type computers, doing software installation and maintenance, network setup/support, and general technical support for IBM mainframe systems using MVS, VM and VSE operating systems.


I attended college as a music major (instrumental music/strings) and a mathematics minor, thinking I would like to be a teacher. After teaching music in public school systems for several years, I realized that I enjoyed teaching but hated public school systems (as a consequence, my own children attend private schools, carefully chosen). In looking around for ideas for another career choice, I remembered a computer science class that I had taken as part of my math work in college (and enjoyed very much). I decided to take some more classes in computer science and see what developed. Eventually, I landed a job as a "junior" systems programmer. From that point, I began to learn about large system computers as I worked with them, as well as how large systems communicate with smaller ones and individuals via terminals and (later) networks of PCs and other computer systems. At some point in my "second" career, I realized that most traditional corporate jobs tend to lead in two directions - along a management track or into a dead-end slot, with no further advancement available in salary or responsibilities. Knowing that I was not interested in traditional management work and not liking the idea of a dead-end job, I accepted an opportunity to try the "job-shop" route as an installation specialist working on an operating system upgrade. The rest is history, I suppose - I found that being the consultant/outsider/"hired gun" gives one the ability to make suggestions and recommendations about specific system needs and requirements without having to deal (for the most part) with the internal politics present in all corporate cultures, large and small. I like the challenges of moving into new environments and dealing with many different kinds of systems and people all of the time, and I feel good when I am able to use my skills to solve a problem for a client.


Don't limit yourself in your education. Take classes in as many different subjects as you can, and participate in many different kinds of extra-curricular activities, now and as you go through high school. It is a very good idea to have some sort of career/goal ideas to pursue as you complete high school and start higher education, but try to avoid "career tracking" during at least your first year or two of college. If college is out of the question right away, get a job that will keep you going and look around for evening classes and activities at the library, museums, local community colleges. One single college class recommended by my roommate was all that it took to point me in this direction.
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