Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Training Classes

In early 1973 I returned to Hartford from my working visit at the Boston Regional Office. The Education Center is housed in a former insurance company building on Gogswell Street that Hartford purchased after the original occupant went out of business. I was part of a group of 10-12 people, all of whom had just spent time in various Regional Offices around the country.
We were housed together in top floor apartments rented by The Hartford in a nearby building and got to know each other pretty well as we spent our days in classes together and nights in various apartments - not unlike college days.
As training neared the end (3 months?) we had a series of speakers come into our classroom and talk about their various offices/departments. From this, our visits to the Regional Offices and some tests we took, we were supposed to pick areas of interest and if there was interest in us from the departments, unofficial interview visits would result. As I hadn't seen anything at the Regional Office that I was really interested in, I ended up talking with two Home Office departments - Quantitative Methods, where they were trying to build a model of the company and the economy so they could predict rates, profits and losses, and Systems, where they were hiring twenty somethings like crazy into programming positions.
The selection process was interesting. Each of us candidates received a piece of paper with three numbered lines on it. We were to fill in each line with our first, second and third choice. Then the departments would get to select the candidates they wanted. Hopefully the department you wanted also wanted you. In my case I decided I didn't want to work in FORTRAN on an economic model so I selected Systems on line 1 and left the other two blank. Confusion ensued. I found out later that Quantitative Methods really wanted me, but because I hadn't even made them a choice they couldn't have me and I ended up going to Systems where I was an acceptable but not top choice. Even later I found out they changed the process so in the future everyone had to fill out all three lines...
After being selected for Systems it was back to training again to learn COBOL for another 8-12 weeks in the Education Center. My Management Training classmates were scattered throughout the country and I never saw any of them again. The COBOL training was basically a beauty contest with job assignments being based on final class rank. All of us except one person finished the class and were assigned to various divisions within the Systems department. I was assigned to Management Financial Reporting Services in a work group writing and maintaining programs to track losses. The Systems department was growing rapidly and I ended up on the 5th floor of the Tower with 100 other twenty somethings. The oldest people on the floor were the supervisors and the officers.