Friday, November 6, 2015

Career choices

At the age of 18 I wanted to be an industrial designer...whatever that was. In my mind it was all very vague. I only knew that it could be done with paper, pen and ink and imagination. I'm sure I was wrong. I attended the local JC and took some design classes that I hoped would get me into the Art Institute. I soon found out that dream would have to be put on hold as I thought that the Design 101 instructor was an idiot and I left the class before finishing it. An Incomplete won't get you very far in the world of design.

So, what to do? I lived at the beach so I spent a lot of time there. I had a job as night manager at a Texaco station and a job being a delivery 'boy' for a liquor store. I wasn't lazy. Then, at the age of 19 I decided, with the help of two friends, to join the Navy. I did and I enjoyed it. After boot camp I went to Hospital Corps school and after graduating I was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I worked at the base hospital and at the end of my normal enlistment I was offered a bonus of $$ and the school of my choice. I decided to go for Aviation Medicine school...and then found out that they wouldn't guarantee that I could leave Lejeune right away and might have to do a complete enlistment of two more years. So I was discharged to civilian life and reserve duty.

After another failed attempt at college I had to get a job. I lived at home but I had to pay rent. I didn't resent that, I assumed that was what you did when you were an adult. I found a job driving a forklift for a new tech company, Space Technology Laboratories, or STL. After a month I knew that I needed to find something else to do or I would go crazy. The work wasn't hard and the pay was fine, but it was deadly boring.

My sister had a friend that worked at STL and I was talking to her one day and told her of my frustration. A few weeks later there was a knock at the door one evening and when I opened it, a stranger introduced himself as the father of that girl. He told me that he had heard I was unhappy with my job and would I be interested in a job in construction? Of course I was and he told me to come and see him the next day and we would talk. He lived right down the street and the next day I was listening to him explain that he was offering me a job in the drywall industry. I would have to join the Carpenters union and become an apprentice. After a little while of doing that work, he wanted to train me to be an estimator. He was the owner and estimator of his new business and hoped to expand quickly. How much money would I make? I was told $2.50 an hour with raises every 6 months for 24 months and then the journeyman's pay was $5.00 an hour. I was making $1.75 in the warehouse and few chances for a raise. Two days later I was an apprentice.

That knock on the door was the pivotal moment in my life. In 2004 I retired from a wonderful career in construction. I had been a journeyman, a foreman, superintendent, project manager, estimator, owned a construction company, left that and moved, where I worked in Reno and started the process all over.  then I had a chance to move to Sacramento and become a superintendent, then estimator, then an IT guy and programmer, software developer and finally an instructor to teach estimators how to use our software. I flew all over the US as we were an international construction company. People now ask me what did I do before retirement and I have to ask them, "Which year?"  


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