Saturday, September 01, 2012

Companies used to pay interviewing expenses for "journeyman" mainframe programmers


This is a weekend for retrospects of past anniversaries. "The Fall" is coming. 

On Aug. 30, 1972 (thirty years ago, plus three days), a Wednesday that year, I was still living in a south Arlington apartment and working as a Fortran (and finally assembler) programmer for NAVCOSSACT in the Washington Navy Yard.  For a variety of personal reasons, I was game for personal adventure.  Maybe I was even willing to feel “reckless”. 

I had gotten a call from Univac marketing and was flown for the day up to (old) Newark Airport for a day of interviewing with the Montclair Branch (just off Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair, NJ, about fifteen miles from the Lincoln Tunnel).

In those days, companies still paid interviewing expenses, although the practice was already starting to die off.  I got the job as a site rep – they didn’t pay moving expenses, although they started the salary payment a week early.

Car rental was still relatively new then – in those days, there was no unlimited mileage during the week.
That would start a new time in my life, at age 29.  (I had just been to Scandinavia for two weeks in August), away from home (where I had grown up), away from parental influences, especially with ever more frequent forays into New York City.

“They’ll have you followed” my father had warned.  How paranoid!

Actually, I drove up to New Jersey Sunday September 24, and by Monday afternoon, Sept. 25, I was in downtown Newark, in the Public Service building, on my first account visit, in a Univac 1106 installation meeting, wearing a chartreuse green suit.  Univac was not as fastidious about dress code as IBM (or EDS).  And I don't think that's why I lost the mainframe war to IBM. 

First picture:  Claremont Ave. building in Montclair, where Univac ran Montclair sales branch in early 1970s. 

Second picture: Garden apartment in Caldwell, NJ, where I moved in on Oct. 1, 1972,  Then, the rent was $215 a month. 

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