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Interview #456: Chapman, Emily E. (1994)

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00:01:36–00:08:43 As a result of an abundance of federal...

As a result of an abundance of federal grants, the demand for computer programmers was high. The rate of pay varied greatly.

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00:01:36

EC

But I was working half time all over the place. I used to carry two bags around, one with all the stuff for one job, and one with all the stuff for the other job.

BT

You mean on campus?

EC

On campus. Yeah. I worked several half time jobs.

BT

Were these in, was this in computer areas?

EC

Oh, as a programmer.

BT

As a programmer.

EC

Yeah.

BT

So there were plenty of jobs on campus.

EC

Oh, yeah. This was, a lot of them were federally funded research projects. Like one of them that I worked on was the Wood County project, which was expanded rehabilitation where they were, they had mentally, they were covering physically handicapped, mentally retarded and mentally handicapped. I mean, there was a difference between, emotionally, there were emotional, mental and physical problems. And they were adding something. I think they were calling it culturally deprived or something to that. And this was done up in Wood County. I was hired on that one, and organized all their data for them.

BT

So there was a lot of federal money coming into the university that was being used for a computer--

EC

Oh, yeah. There was a lot of federal money coming in. Yeah. And the same thing, I worked in sociology for, oh, dear, what’s his name? He did the high school project on studying, he’s still doing it. Dr. [Sule?]. And I was programming on the high school project, which is the survey of high school students that, I mean, he’s following them forever.

BT

Forever.

EC

Yeah. I mean, he has a big databank and he keeps, I don’t know how often he checks up on them, but he gets information on them. And I did several other jobs. But, this was all in Fortran.

BT

So you were doing this as you were taking these other courses.

EC

Yeah. As I was working in the, in the grad school, taking these courses. But then I, it just seemed as though I would rather work. [laughs] And I decided that what, I know what made me think of it was, I said well, if I get a master’s degree, I already know how to program, and I like to program, and I like to design systems. If I get a master’s program, master’s degree, I would have to go to Minneapolis or Chicago or somewhere to get an appropriate position. And it would be doing all the nitty gritty inside, and I’d rather do the outside work with computers. So I just decided that it was a nice thought, but it wasn’t really something, because I didn’t figure I could go off and leave my husband.

BT

So you weren’t interested in a full time job somewhere as a professor or anything like that.

EC

No.

BT

You were interested in [both talking]

EC

I really enjoyed writing programs and testing them.

BT

What about a job as a computer programmer on campus part time in those days? Was the pay pretty good compared to other part time jobs?

EC

Well--

BT

Were you considered really skilled labor, more or less?

EC

Every time I switched from one job to another, I jacked my price up a dollar an hour. No, I started out, actually, at $1.75 an hour. And I worked up to, I think six dollars an hour. [laughs]

BT

Now that was pretty good, I assume.

EC

For me. Other computer programmers were getting more, but--

BT

Were they scarce? Were there more jobs than people in that field?

EC

Yeah, there were. Because I had no trouble just, there would be a notice on the board, “programmer wanted for such and such.” And I would call. And when one project ended, I had no trouble finding another one.

Then all of a sudden, the federal grants dried up.

BT

When was that, about?

EC

Must have been about, oh, boy. That’s hard to know. It was at the end of this project that I had worked on in behavioral studies, which was, you know, that county thing, expanded rehabilitation.

BT

The Wood County thing?

EC

The Wood County thing. That was in, I was, I was a, what did they call me? What did they call the people who work, who aren’t on faculty, and aren’t--

BT

Academic staff.

EC

Yeah. I was something like, something, a specialist. That’s what they called me. I was a specialist in studies in behavioral disabilities. I carried that thing around. [laughs] That ran out and I did consulting on it for a while. And I can’t remember when that was. They finished and got all their stuff published.

BT

So pretty much you noticed on campus at that point that there were just not as many advertisements up for help as there had been?

EC

No. Well, everybody that I was working for said, “We don’t have any more money. The feds are cutting it.” And I can’t put a date on that, exactly. So I tried to, I thought well, I’ll try to get a job in business. See if they’ll take me. Well, they didn’t, a lot of places that I went were really interested in what I had done, the type of work I had done. But they wanted Cobalt. So I thought, okay.

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