Wesley Graham hired me when I could not find a job anywhere else
Marian Forster (BSc '64) shares how she got her first job, thanks to a beloved University of Waterloo professor
Marian Forster (BSc '64) shares how she got her first job, thanks to a beloved University of Waterloo professorBy Marian Forster (BSc '64) Alum
After graduating with a three-year degree in Math and Physics, I could not find a job anywhere. I was 21 years old, female, and looked 14. Well, I could have been a key punch operator for Bell, but I turned that down.
Months went by and I had to get a student loan to tie me over. I was still eating at the cafeteria and Wesley (then Professor Graham to me) would stop to talk every day: "Have you found a job yet?" And then, finally: "If you haven't found a job in another month, come to me and I'll make one for you."
And, that's how I got my first job after graduation. What a gift!
I believe there were only six employees in the Computer Science Department, situated in a few classrooms in the Physics building. I never did see the Red Room, but I did help plan it. I helped name Watfor. I helped debug Watfor.
I worked closely with Wesley. He eventually moved me to an office adjacent to his. We spent much time together, in confidence, as working friends.
I think it may be possible that I was the first computer librarian and possibly the first user-friendly on-campus consultant in Fortran. In the world?
Maybe I exaggerate. I don't know.
Of particular interest is my experience as an early female employee and how my input often changed or influenced some decisions. How Wesley and I would disagree. I was a headstrong young woman and he a man, softly human, with a wide vision and surety that it was reachable.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.