Our Stories: People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Succeeding at Work and Life
Meet IBM Mainframe Programmer, John Carty
My name is John Carty, and my career as a computer programmer began when I graduated from El Centro College Computer Programmer Training for People with Disabilities in the spring of 1997. This training was comprised of intensive classroom training in TSO/ISPF, JCL/Utilities, and COBOL/CICS. At the end of the eight-month course, each student was assigned to a two-month internship with a company in the Dallas area. Successful completion of the internship was required for graduation and gave me a taste of what working as a programmer is like as well as valuable professional experience. Overall, this program was excellent preparation for me to begin a career as an IBM mainframe programmer. Due to the Y2K scare of the late ’90s, the skills I learned were in great demand in the job market.
I was assigned to the Army Airforce Exchange Service (AAFES) for my internship. AAFES operates the military retail stores located on every military installation around the world, including some level of retail support anywhere there are at least 30 U.S. military personnel. During my two-month internship, I completed a training course for all new hires. This was an overview of the training I had at El Centro, so I completed this training without difficulty. I was hired by AAFES at the end of my internship. In hindsight, I can say I was perhaps immature and/or naive as to what I should expect on this new job. All entry-level programmers will succeed or fail largely due to the level of mentoring and professional investment they receive from senior experienced programmers. I was unaware of this fact and had no knowledge of such a need nor how to go about obtaining such a mentor at AAFES.
Needless to say, I didn’t experience the success I expected. Perhaps the people I worked with at AAFES saw a level of pridefulness or arrogance they simply didn’t care to engage with. For whatever reason, I wasn’t mentored and failed to become productive. I became discouraged at AAFES and blamed the environment and never considered I was contributing to my failure to thrive.