About DanutaMy Story...cont'd
My Story – cont’d.
I took up Business Studies in Technical College and typing was one of the classes. I sat in the very back. On our first day, we opened our books on the stand for lesson 1 – repetitious “a-s-d-f…” home keys drill. I skipped forward to the advanced lessons to try more challenging work. I was happily typing away at top speed when I suddenly realized no-one else was typing – I looked up, and the whole class and the instructor were glaring at me! From that point on, I could practice from any part of the book I wanted. Oh, and yes, I got top marks for all my RSA exams.
Entering the Workforce
As I entered the workforce, I still did small typing jobs on the side, despite having a full-time job. I started learning page layout and design when I worked in the computer department at Estee Lauder. They had many forms for the processes and procedures, and I had to design them all on a typewriter. I loved the challenge of it.
Moving on to my career at IBM, documents were all created on a mainframe using markup code. I had a hard time initially and was very frustrated trying to grasp markup language, then I decided – I would either quit my job or be the very best. I decided the latter. I studied the script language on my own time, and it paid off, becoming quite the expert. Once personal computers were introduced, the first word processing software I used was WordPerfect – and soon realized that the mainframe coding experience came in useful when I saw the reveal codes. At IBM the standard pc software became the Lotus SmartSuite, which I also mastered.
Microsoft Word – the Big Switch
We all despised it – especially after the ease of using WordPerfect. Unfortunately, Microsoft Office dominated the market at that time, and many were reluctant to switch until they were forced to. I remember someone said to me that instead of fighting a losing battle of resistance, find out how things are done in Word rather than continually comparing to other software. That was a challenge I needed, and again, spent many of my own hours learning all I could – I was determined to, once again, be the expert!
The Big Downsize
The end of the 80s and early 90s saw a dramatic sharp shift from mainframe to personal computers, which IBM on some level failed to recognize and stubbornly held on to its mainframe direction, resulting in massive revenue losses worldwide and the downsizing of staff – me and many of my coworkers being affected. (The fact that stock dropped dramatically after I left is just mere coincidence!) Taking a financial package and some time off helped me to focus on my next goal – start my own business and become a freelancer.
Taking the Leap
After taking some time off, I started to think about which direction I wanted to go in and decided I would enter the world of the self-employed. I registered my company name and was in the process of getting things sorted when I got a frantic call from some colleagues at IBM – they urgently needed some help and as I was skilled in mainframe documents, could I come in and help, which I did and immediately after completing the project, I knew that this was the direction I would go in.
Onwards and Upwards
From that point on, I became very busy – many colleagues from IBM had gone on to other businesses or endeavours and it didn’t take long for them to find me. At the time, in any discussions with prospective clients, saying that I had worked at IBM opened doors for me. After that, most of my clients were word of mouth or other connections, and I built up quite the business, although I also attended many events to expand my network and contacts.
Since that Leap
The years since then have flown by and were packed with all sorts of opportunities, from document support projects, Instructor in the Office Suite for Training Centres and School Board night classes to university level continuing education, creating and designing workshops, hundreds of PowerPoint presentations, proposal management work, collaboration on numerous and varied projects, and so much more.
Thank you for reading my story – I hope you found it interesting.
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