The question was, what to do? I wanted to acquire gainful employment certainly. How I would go about doing that exactly, I wasn't sure. By December, I, as the proud owner of a fine parchment degree that said I had completed the requirements to receive a BS in Geography from Texas A&M. But the jobs weren't magically appearing. The best the career center had for Geography majors was a job as a Taco Bell assistant manager. Somehow I passed up that golden gem and I consulted with my profs instead. They said to go to grad school. Of course, it had worked for them. I love to talk, so it seemed like a win/win way to go to be a college prof. I would be able to teach and talk all I wanted then. So I took the GRE. I timed it badly though. I had a final Friday, December 10th, the GRE on Saturday, December 11th, then two finals Monday, December 13th. So I didn't have loads of time to study. I skimmed a GRE test booklet to get an idea of the material for about 30 minutes. And I fully intended to take the test again. This was just the practice run to get a feel for the test, not meant to be the production run. Now I don't know if it was because I was relaxed, or because I got a good sleep, or that the pressure to perform was off, or because I was in the academic "zone" for test taking, but I aced that test. I got a 1360 on the Math and English together, and a 2070 out of 2400. 93rd percentile of all college graduates. And I was sitting pretty for grad school admission. And I was admitted to everywhere I applied (I guess that 3.33 GPA didn't hurt either). But far and away, the University of Maryland was offering the best deal. They'd put me in for a University Fellowship worth $20,000 a year with my tuition remitted. But even if I didn't get that, they offered a departmental assistantship worth $10,000 with tuition remitted. Either way, they were going to pay me to be a grad student. Go Terapins! So I went to Maryland. A little aside here. As a young adolescent in Germany, I remember wondering if I would ever end up going to the University of Maryland in Munich. This was where most of the other college student military dependents went to be educated. Never did I suspect that one day I would actually go to the University of Maryland in College Park. Funny how things work out.
My duties as a graduate assistant included hours of work in the Geography Department's Graphics Lab. This is where I learned Unix, as I had to teach undergrads how to use the workstations. This led to a job in the engineering department when my academic career hit the skids for mainly political reasons. I lost my assistantship in a bet (okay, I got a C on my Thesis Research Proposal, which was hardly universally appreciated, except by my advisor). Anyway, I worked in engineering for the spring, and came to learn much about TCP/IP, Novell, Windows 3.11, Unix, the Internet, and routers while supporting the PhD's in the various branches of engineering. Then my father retired from the Air Force which precipitated a crisis. I had been living with my parents in Alexandria, VA, and with their departure, I had to find real work. So I looked around a bit, and found a nice job in Bethesda with my new skill set. Thus I became a real live Systems Administrator for the first time. And I was going to be working for Dataworld.
Working for dataworld was interesting. While I had learned more at a faster pace while at Maryland, this taught me to be a one man team. I was the company tech support division. If I didn't know, nobody knew. And it was at dataworld that I learned about Microsoft Networking products. They were a member of the Microsoft Developers Network, so they got loads of software on CD. We got Windows 95, Windows NT, Exchange Server, Microsoft Office, etc... So eventually, I was tasked to install and support an NT Workstation, and then upgrade it to NT Server 3.51, and so on. And that's how I learned about shares, and NetBEUI, and UNC names, and so on. I learned a lot about administrating a small sized LAN with about 50 workstations, a Novell 4.1 File Server, an NT Server, and a Linux Internet Gateway. Later, we beefed up, and I got to set up a Microrouter 1200i to link us up to the net at fractional T1 speeds. All and all, I learned a good bit.
And I was a good admin. And people noticed. I developed a bit of a reputation. And I started to get a hint here, a comment there, on opportunities to work somewhere else. One such lead formed into an interview, and eventual employment for FC Business Systems. I have worked as the Corporate LAN/WAN Administrator for FC since February of 1997. It is a much larger company, and I am being assisted in acquiring several certifications. Eventually I'd like to have a CNA, MCSE, Cisco Training, and be a certified Solaris Admin. Not bad for me. Never took a computer class (a couple where they were used though). So there it is. I have been a Maverick, an Aggie, a Terrapin, and, of late, an all around network bad ass. Life does go on after being an Aggie, but it doesn't take but a single glance at my office to discern where my loyalties lie.