Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Work #My500Words #221

With five days to go I am at Day 27 of the Jeff Goins 500 Words Challenge - today is about to telling about my work experiences. I have had just two "real jobs" - the first was with the e-Learning company CBT Systems (later SmartForce) and then my current job as a Lecturer at NCI. More about these later.

Baling straw, Orkney Islands 3
Some of the most enjoyable work I ever did - baling straw!
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
When you grow up on a farm as I did, there are always plenty of jobs and a variety of work to do. From an early age one of my jobs was to collect eggs from our battery hens - to a small boy it seemed like we had thousands of hens, but it was more likely a few hundred. We collected the eggs on cardboard trays and learned at an early age to be careful with these fragile and precious items. Later at about age 12, I was given a brilliant new job on the farm during the harvest - to drive the tractor and trailer in the field for my Dad and his helpers when they were loading bales of straw onto the trailer. Dad put the tractor in the lowest crawling gear as possible and all I had to do was steer. When we got near the edge of the field, Dad took over for the turnaround and I was James Hunt for another few minutes. Later, as an older teenager I got to drive the tractor for real while baling straw. Our farm was a hive of activity during the harvest - in addition to our own harvest we also cut corn and baled straw for many neighbouring farms. I loved this too.

For a short period after graduating from College I worked for McLernon Computer who provided PCs to pharmacies. This was in early 1989 when hardly any pharmacy had a computer - so it was very much a green-field activity. My job was to install and train the users in how to use the new system. It was quite a complicated system to use, and of course many pharmacists had never used a computer before. After about 6 weeks in this job I got a new job with a company called CBT Systems (CBT = Computer Based Training). My employee number was 34. I loved this job right from the start - I was involved in creating training courses (to be delivered on floppy disk). I knew I was good at this and that I was happiest at educating others. I started in CBT Systems in March 1989. I was lucky to survive a round of redundancies in 1991, and also lucky to gain promotion to Director level. The company went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1995 and I was suddenly into a world of stock options and international travel. While I liked this work, I found management to be a much higher level of pressure - but I was making a lot of money on stock options for about three years. I was not a nice person during this time - I felt greedy. I don't think I would be good as a rich person!

By 2002 CBT Systems has transformed into SmartForce and our world fell apart as there were two big rounds of redundancies that year - I was let go in the second round. A former colleague told me about a new course in a place that I had never heard of - the National College of Ireland. It was an e-Learning course for which they needed part-time Lecturers - what lucky timing for me. In 2003 I was made permanent and have loved (almost) every minute of my work in the College. Working in education must be one of the most rewarding life experiences - and I get paid to do what I love. Academic freedom (such as it is) allows me lots of opportunity to do things like set up a YouTube Channel and go to Conferences. Our holidays are longer (34 vs 22 days in SmartForce) - which gives me a wonderful break in the summer. I get to learn and teach many different subjects, and my current involvement in Data Analytics courses makes me feel like a pig in shite (still a bit of a farmer in me!).

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