|high school graduation - June 1979|
This is a story I've never told here. I'm not sure my kids even know the whole thing! So I'm taking a break from the Mystery Shawl ... and writing a lot more than I usually do!
Growing up, I don't remember ever wanting to be anything other than a Chemical Engineer and a Rambling Wreck ... just like my father. We visited Georgia Tech the summer of 1977 and I was settled; it was the only school I applied to and I was accepted. Classes began in September 1979 and I loved everything about the school (not only because I met Marc before classes even started - he was a year ahead of me). I did well in my classes and had fun! I found Tech challenging, but I also found myself - for the first time in my life - surrounded by others who enjoyed working hard.
My father worked for Texaco his entire career; most of that time was spent in refineries (when he retired, he was managing a refinery in Kansas). In the fall of my sophomore year, I interviewed for a co-op job with Chevron (and remember getting teased about that from home) and spent my winter quarter working in their Richmond, California refinery.
I was a Craft Helper, which meant I rotated through various crafts - machine shop, pipe fitting, maintenance. I wore coveralls, work boots and a hard hat. I spent days chipping black yuck out of a bubble tower. I was 2,500 miles away from everything I loved. I hated it.
and organic chemistry. That was the first (and only?) class I ever dropped.
I changed my plans! Leaving Tech was not an option and I still wanted to graduate in four years. I was probably the first Applied Mathematics graduate with nearly all her technical electives filled with Chemical Engineering classes. I loved my math classes, especially statistics. I also enjoyed teaching; I graded for a professor my junior year and taught freshman calculus recitations my senior year.
I had only vague plans about what I might do with my degree. Marc and I got engaged the December before I graduated and he planned to return to Connecticut to an architecture firm he'd interned for the summer before. I thought I could get a job with an insurance company in Hartford, or maybe teach.
Marc ended up getting a job in Atlanta ... and so did I. A small actuarial consulting firm called Hazlehurst & Associates asked me to interview; I got the job and started in June 1983 (a week after I graduated). I really had no idea what actuaries did, but I knew it involved studying and tests (I was good at that), paid well and I would never have to wear coveralls to work. Turned out it wasn't as much about math as I thought and the studying was on my own time (but required). But there was new legislation taking effect that created 401(k) plans. Hazlehurst had a few clients that were interested in starting plans and they needed help administering them. The timing was great for me - I read a COBOL programming manual on the bus - and joined the new team. It was a great fit ... finally!
Hazlehurst was acquired by Northern Trust in the early 1990's and then sold to Hewitt Associates in 2003 ... I was there for all of that. My career included programming (I also taught myself two more languages to "keep up"), administering and consulting about benefits ... and ultimately managing folks (here in the US and in India) who did those things.
The Hewitt transition was difficult - too much work, too few people, not enough money ... and unhappy clients. I missed out on much of Katie's high school and college and was determined to do things differently with Sara. In September 2009, I announced my retirement and left - on the best of terms - in early 2010.
I did see Sara play tennis ... and move into her own apartment ... in Wisconsin! and I did get to teach knitting ... and work in my LYS. (truly every knitter's dream, right?!)
Then two months ago I retired. for real. (in other words I am no longer getting paid. for anything!)
I'm still adjusting to days on my calendar with no commitments and a much smaller to-do list. I love the flexibility, but I do find myself craving structure. TBD how this whole thing works out.
and whew. long post. but I'm glad I got it all down. and if you read this far, wow! (and thank you!) did anything surprise you?
Of course I'm linking up with Kat and Carole today!