I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered on the way home from work last evening. They've been running a series called "Summer Jobs", and they have had some really unusual ones. So I thought I'd share one of my summer jobs, too.
One of my summer jobs was to make carrot muffins that were sold in the Cafe of my uncle. I was about fifteen.
In the afternoons, my mother and I went to the kitchen and start working. I was the worker and my mother the coach :).
The next day, early morning, I caught the bus and went to the Cafe, make the delivery. My uncle payed me back and I had the rest of the day free, until cooking time again.
By that time I couldn't understand that I was drawing my future as a tester. Why? Because I had to test (taste) on muffin to make sure they were ok to be sold :)
Summer jobs can teach us a lot and we rarely forget about them.
When I was a student, I had the opportunity to work for a summer at IBM. I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing, but it sure sounded better than going back to the supermarket.
I ended up writing software (in APL) to control test environments for printed circuit boards. We had chambers that allowed us to control temperature and humidity so we could evaluate circuit board operation in a wide range of operating conditions. We also cycled the temperature many times to simulate some of the stresses the boards would be subject to over the life of a computer.
It was my first exposure to test plans. I enjoyed thinking about the design of the component, the different ways it might be used, possible failure modes, and what tests we could run that would give us confidence that the boards would meet their reliability objectives.
My student summer jobs mainly involved washing dishes and cleaning toilets. The ladies toilets were far worse than the mens. All you had to do with the mens was to wade in with hot water, a lot of disenfectant and a mop. Sometimes a drunkard would pull a sink off the wall, but sorting that was way above my pay grade.
The ladies was an eye-opener though. They were constantly blocking the toilets with various things. They were also fond of writing drunken messages on the mirrors in lipstick. Now that was en education for a naive teenager!
The best job was working as a fitter's mate in a large sugar beet refinery. The money was great. In a week I could clear enough to pay my rent for a term. It was hard work though, and a bit dangerous. You had a medical on the first day so you could be cleared for "overhead work", ie working up high on the huge grinders and conveyors, scraping them clean.
The machinery got coated in quicklime (calcium oxide) which was used to break down the sugar beet. It was highly corrosive, and you couldn't inhale the dust or get it on your skin. So the students were covered from head to toe in protective gear, with face masks, so that there wasn't an inch of skin exposed. Then we were sent to climb up to the top and start cleaning. We had our legs wrapped round the machinery, and held on with one hand while working with the other. This was the summer, so you can imagine how sweaty it was.
As I said, the money was fantastic, but it sure made us appreciate how pampered we were as students compared with manual workers.
I worked as a 'gofer' at a recording studios. U2 happened to be recording the Joshua Tree then. I remember going out to get a set of Adam Clayton's keys cut. I was tempted to get a second set cut for myself, just so I could say I had a set of his keys, but my ethics got the better of me. Larry Mullins opened a door for me once...swoon.
The real highlight though was learning about video editing, it was really interesting work, though then it was still all analogue stuff. I guess I was a geek at heart.