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From out-of-work teacher to computer programmer

After 20 years as a teacher and guidance counselor, Barbara Doyle suddenly needed a job. Her work in a Boston-area school was being phased out because of a budget cut. ''It had never occurred to me that I couldn't get another job,'' says Mrs. Doyle, who holds three academic degrees. The state employment office told her that the prospects were dim for careers in education. It suggested she try to enter the high-technology field. ''I had absolutely no idea what 'high technology' was,'' she says. ''I went home and tried to look it up in the phone book.''

That was 1981. Today Mrs. Doyle works for Honeywell Information Systems, a high-technology company, in its data-processing center. ''I really love it,'' she says.

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How did she find the training that led to a new career?

Through a computer programming course for displaced professionals (mostly teachers) sponsored by Honeywell, Regis College in Weston, Mass., and the Bay State Skills Corporation.

The nine-month evening course taught 35 newcomers the COBOL language and other programming skills. The program, says Joan Duff, a Honeywell spokesperson, ''was a real perfect fit for us.''

Regis now is considering another cycle of the program. It won't be hard to find students. There is a 300-person waiting list should the program run again.

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