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What I Learned from My First Job

MainframeRecently a friend of mine was telling me about his first job and what he learned. It gave me pause to think about my first job way back in the early 80’s. I was working for Prime Computer building mainframe computers in my hometown of Framingham, MA.

Way back then, Prime Computer had sort of an assembly line approach and was a very large company. Where you were in the stage of the line would determine:

  1. How busy you were
  2. When you were busy

I worked in the Finished Goods Department, which means I was the last department before the mainframe computers were shipped to customers. What it also meant was that I had NOTHING to do for the first six weeks of the quarter. My schedule was to punch in, have breakfast, play cards, have lunch, play cards, take a break and punch out. I didn’t really understand what was happening. I did ask a few questions, but my co-workers quickly told me to be quiet, don’t say a thing and collect my $6.00 an hour.

Finally when week seven came around, our finished goods department was busy. In fact, we were very busy to the tune of overtime during the week and on Saturday. The last two weeks of the quarter were even better with double time on Sunday. It was amazing how much money one could make in this department. Some weeks I made over $800—which was a fortune for a college student.

The lesson I learned is that MOST companies are inefficient in systems or procedures. Some of those inefficiencies are obvious and can be fixed easily. Others can take a while to figure out.

Have you figured yours out?

I hope so, because they are there.

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