Friday, June 07, 2024

Oxford Life - 07 Epilogue

Oxford in the early ‘70s was very different from what I imagine it is now. This is the tale of my time in this august institution.

Table of Contents:

Episode 07 - Epilogue.


This is me in the full regalia required to attend the graduation ceremony. 

I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. I am envious of people who always knew what career they wanted to pursue. The university did provide career advice, so I had a meeting with an advisor. All I knew was that I wanted something that combined theory and practice like chemistry, or architecture like my father. The best I could come up with was that had this been in the middle ages I would have signed up with one of the guilds of master craftsman. The advisor had no suggestions.

No one had explained to me about the milk round. 

Milk round: "The series of visits made at a particular time of the year by large companies to colleges and universities to discuss giving jobs to students after they have finished their education."

By the time I learned of its existence it was all over, not that it would have done me much good without a clear goal.

My first job.

I quite liked the idea of becoming a studio potter. This was partly inspired by an old family friend, Mick Casson, who was a respected and charismatic figure. When revising for my O-Levels, I spent a week with his family following my revision plan in the morning, throwing pots with him in the afternoon, and the evenings with his family.

I signed up for pottery evening classes to test if that was possible vocation for me. However I still liked to eat so I signed on the dole and started applying for Lab Technician type jobs. One of them was as a computer operator for Oxfordshire County Council.  The job involved changing magnetic tapes, loading printers with continuous stationary and various other tasks. 

When I went for the interview they, spotting that I was over qualified, said that they were also recruiting for computer programmers and would I like to take the aptitude test. Unsurprisingly I did pretty well so they offered me a job as a trainee programmer. I accepted, went off to London for a two week basic COBOL course, staying with my Uncle Ralph and then came back to start life as a coder. 

My starting salary was £1,999 per annum - yes, you read that right - two thousand pounds per year - it was 1976! After a couple of years the lure of the big city lights and a 50% salary hike took me to London to work for Sainsbury’s. It had never occurred to me that one could make a living as a programmer and I took it like a duck to water, thus began my life-long career in IT.

Since then no one has ever asked for evidence that I actually have a degree from Oxford and certainly never asked what class of degree it was!

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