How to have a successful and interesting career without having to pay a lot for job training: A case study…

I was just having a conversation with a buddy here in Live about our careers. By the time I wrote my story, I had a blog post. So, here it is — a little more in depth, and with no typos I hope:

After high school in 1970-ish had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I had never thought about it before. So, I went to the local community college, putting myself through by flipping burgers, while I thought about it.

After college, and after a wild and crazy summer backpacking in the High Sierras, I got serious and thought I had better get a “real” job.

I lived in a cracker box apartment for $75 a month, including utilities. Phone was an extra $4 per month. But, some day I wanted a house. I had lived in apartments for two long, and I wanted my own backyard. If I got a good job, I thought, I would buy a house some day…

Here is the career path I chose:

I walked to places near my house and asked for a job till I got a job. Then, I would walk at lunch time till I got a better job, etc.

After my summer of back packing, I worked again at Jack in the Box. Then, some months later, I moved down the street to a title company and worked as a delivery girl. Then, I learned how to put records in lot books, keeping track of who owned what real estate in my county.

I had to learn how to read property legal descriptions to read the deeds. So, when their draftsman quit so they taught me drafting. Since I already could read legal descriptions, they thought it would be easy to teach me to draw them. 

I found out that draftsmen could make more money than what they were paying me, so a year later I moved down the street to the county where draftsmen were paid more.

A year and a half later I moved down the street to the city where draftsmen were paid even more. And then I bought a (teensy tiny) house at the age of 25. Woohoo!

Meanwhile, I took night classes at the community college in engineering, math, drafting and surveying, learning job skills.

After ten or so years of government jobs, I got a job in a private civil engineering firm where they let me spread my wings:

For nine years. I got to draw new neighborhoods: Tract maps, street plans, grading plans, water, drainage and sewer plans. Then, I married my hubby, left California and moved to Oklahoma with him. Man, I hated to quit that job!

After a couple of false starts I got my dream job working for a private civil engineer. He had a business office, but he found out that I could do all the work, and he didn’t need any other employees.

That big office for just the two of us, plus the secretary who got paid to talk to all her friend on the phone all day while he was out on jobs. Finally, he asked me if I would “mind” working out of my house….

So, for eight years, I worked out of my house as a civil engineering technician. My boss had one employee: me. We each worked out of our houses. I would see my boss two or three times a year since we lived on opposite ends of a big town. We communicated with phone, fax, email, and his wife would drop off sets of plans on her way to work.

My boss would bid on road projects that needed bridges to go across creeks. He would design the bridge, and I would design the road. I ran my own empire out of my spare room. I got to plan the work the way I wanted. With drafting and engineering software I made up big fat sets of construction plans to build stuff. It was so much fun!

I did that for eight years. But, then two years ago I got sick and could not do my job any more. I’ve been in my lazy boy chair ever since. But, I’ve already blogged about that elsewhere, so I’ll stop here…

Anyway, kids these days are taking out loans to pay for college. By the time they get a job, it’s all they can do to pay off their student loans, much less buy a house. I just thought I would offer this other side of the coin.

Click Here if you made it this far down.



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4 responses to “How to have a successful and interesting career without having to pay a lot for job training: A case study…

  1. gary

    People are so rushed they forget its ok to start at the bottom

  2. X-Evolutionist

    @Gary: I totally agree! It used to be standard procedure. People would start at the bottom and be an apprentice for somebody else while they learn a trade. Free job training! You can\’t beat that with a stick. X

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