Before blurting out the “Dirty Little Secret,” I need to set the stage and appropriate context. I graduated with honors in 1984 from the University of New Orleans. (Not bad for a kid from the “wrong side of the tracks.”) I obtained a degree in Business with a Computer Science option. Prior to that, I participated in a family-owned business, which afforded me early software and management experience.
Upon graduation, I interviewed with the Big Oil Company on campus in May 1984, and was asked why they should have an interest in me. My response was that I had some software experience, and that I was very, very good at what I did. I also added that my academic track record supported this fact.
Apparently, they liked what they heard and I was asked to fly to Houston for additional interviews. I interviewed with three managers in Houston. One manager, in particular, asked me why I thought I could compete? I was somewhat offended by the question and shot back: “What makes you think that I couldn’t?” Needless to say, I was not only confident; I was cocky. (In time, aging and the realization of our own mortality have a way of making us more humble).
Why the confidence? Because I knew I was a developer. I had an aptitude for it. I had a need to do it. Corny as it may sound, I felt a calling. I had done work in BASIC, studied COBOL, FORTRAN, Assembly Language, and Pascal. I had breezed through tough programming classes (data structures, operating systems, analysis of algorithms, etc.) and loved every minute of it. I was armed and dangerous. I was ready to do some very cool stuff!