I'm so glad I chose the career I did (and why being adaptable, and a people-person helped “my cause” so much)
I could have been anything.
When I left school, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to take my ‘career’.
Career is in quotes, because your average sixteen year old doesn’t have much of a career plan mapped out.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Hong Kong, going to an international school, and being treated like a “curious young adult” (I was twelve when I returned to the UK). I knew I wanted to ‘do stuff’ with computers from that time in my life.
Returning to the UK, I went to an average secondary school, which was a come down from KGV in Hong Kong.
I couldn’t wait to leave school. There was not much to challenge me. In retrospect, a technical college would have been a better choice, but such a thing did not exist.
But fear not, Amersham College did have a new computer unit, and I had time to make up.
Cobol, Pascal, 8086 assembler, a Prime Mini, and Macs were all useful things to apply, and learn ‘on’. I also did double entry book-keeping as part of the course. Not super-relevant, but I enjoyed it.
I passed my course at Amersham college, and started an HND at Hatfield Polytechnic. I enjoyed this “hands-on course”, where I was able to code, get acquainted with a Vax/VMS, and have the odd pint…..
One of the things I regret was ‘officially’ living at home for the first year of this course. This was a mistake. But we all make them. The HND had a ‘sandwich’ component, where you spent a year in industry.
‘Industry’ (for me) was Budapest, Hungary, less than a year after Communism ‘ended’. I was an IT trainer, teaching a class of twenty-eight, at year two Degree level. There was no training-the-trainer. I arrived on a Sunday, and started on the Monday.
It was tough. There were lots of hurdles; broken hardware, virus, lack of training material, student lethargy, and minimal support.
But, the year was a resounding success. My time in Hong Kong helped me get this job, and allowed me to adapt. Quite an undertaking at nineteen years old.
Returning to the UK, I completed the final year of my HND. I was lucky enough to be offered a job as a software developer. I attended a three day induction, but realised the job ‘was not for me’. Considering jobs were few-and-far-between, not taking it may have been fool-hardy (so my parents thought).
I scoured the UK for an HND, to Degree conversion course. There were six in the whole country.
Knocking on doors has significant advantages. I did exactly this at South Bank University, and after an interview, was given a place, starting in the ‘next’ academic year.
I had an impromptu year-out. After saving like mad, I left the UK for “Work Jamaica”, where I needed to find a job. The first job interview was for Sandals Royal Caribbean in Ocho Rios. The vacancy was for a meeter-and-greeter. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get it.
The next job interview was for the Jamaica International Telephone Company, doing technical support, and designing training material. I got it, and was earning £40 a week :O)
I didn’t have a pizza in six months. But that was OK. I ended up living in the staff house of the Mayfair Hotel, in Kingston, with two others. Life in Jamaica was just fine!
Returning to the UK, I found a “Summer job” as a dish-washer-upper, but (after a week), luckily, found a software testing job, locally. Thank you Parachute Management for hiring me.
The summer passed too quickly, and it was time to start the final year of the Degree course at South Bank University.
Successfully completed, it was time to “start my career.”