Immediately after college, I started graduate school in Mathematics in 1980. After a couple of years I decided to take a leave of absence because 1) the woman to whom I was engaged was going to start graduate school several hundred miles away, and 2) I wanted to rethink what I was doing in my career. In thinking about where to work, I decided to apply to IBM because I had worked there as a summer student. Since I was a known quantity to them, I figured I could start at a higher position and a higher salary.
The day I joined IBM was December 20, 1982. Tomorrow is my 25th anniversary with the company.
In that time I worked on optimization software for the internal telecommunications network; moved to IBM Research to work on symbolic mathematical computation, user interfaces, a compiler, and web-based scientific publishing; spent four years in the middle of my Research work finishing my Ph.D., with IBM picking up the tab; moved to the Software Group to commercialize use of XML in vertical industries; worked on web services and SOA; took a turn in Websphere marketing for a couple of years; and am now in my current gig.
Along the way I did marry that woman, and am still married to her with our 25th anniversary coming next summer. We’ve had two kids and seven cats (though not all at the same time). We’ve moved six times, getting older houses further and further north.
That is, I’ve lived and have had a variety of careers, I just happen to have worked for the same company for a pretty long time. I have no idea when I’ll retire from working in this industry and it seems like a long time from now, maybe twenty more years. When I was younger I couldn’t understand why people would retire because I was in a very academic frame of mind. Now I get the point (grin), but I think of it as more of a transition to doing something else constructive, like teaching or writing full-time.
In any case, 25 years doesn’t seem as long as it used to.