February 5, 2014
career stories / writing
Writing about a career that spans over forty years is challenging at best. My “career” or better put in the plural, “careers,” started after college in 1973 when I began what I thought would be a lifelong stretch teaching high school English. Turns out that vocation was derailed by a divorce and the rude awakening that came with being on my own at 25 and having to support myself. After we sold our house as part of the divorce settlement, I began life as an apartment dweller and I hated it. So I vowed to save enough money to afford a home of my own. My dad worked for Bell Laboratories in Whippany at the time, and he was worried about me and thought I would be more financially secure if I had a job in the Bell System. “Ma Bell” took care of her people. My teaching job at the time paid $12,000 a year. Dad told me about an opening in the Anti-Trust Department. The Labs’ corporate legal team was involved in the Litton Anti-Trust litigation and they were hiring those with degrees in English who could summarize depositions and assist with witness interviews. So in 1978, I left teaching to begin my career in the Bell System and this entry level job paid an annual salary of $17,000; so I thought at least I was moving up, financially, that is. I still mourned the loss of my primary career, but it looked like there would be many “teaching” opportunities within AT&T, at many levels.
After spending a year or two at Bell Labs, I transferred to AT&T’s training department and in a Bell System career that lasted about 15 years, I worked my way over to sales and marketing and eventually became a product manager. Today, sifting through the photos that I will feature in my LifeTime Book, I came across this graduation photo taken at the beginning of a new position as an enterprise phone system sales executive for AT&T Business Communications Systems, sometime in the 1980’s. I can still remember my first sale to a bank in Fairfield, NJ—a “state-of-the-art” voice and data PBX system. The bank president was thrilled and the commission was generous! The Training “Academy” in Denver, Colorado was affectionately referred to as “Darth Vader University.” Funny I don’t remember the names of even one of the guys in this photo, but maybe some of them will read my post and send me an email.
I have collected quite a few photos now, and I’m beginning the process of selecting the dozen or so that will punctuate the text in my book.