This is Part 3 of an article series which takes a look at what I learned from each job that I have had since I started working at the age of thirteen.
7th Job – College was expensive and at the time my parent had two other children in private high school and my older brother was also in college. They were stretched pretty thin. To start my college education, I found a small two-year community college that was cheaper than a four-year college and would allow the credits to transfer to the local four-year college. After the first semester of moving into the dorms and getting settled in, a job opened up in my dorm floor to be the Resident Assistant (RA) helping new kids get moved in and keeping the rest of the kids from getting into trouble.
Most of the trouble as this school was at the football parties across campus as the party dorms. The dorm room that I was in was for the new kids, so keeping the kids out of trouble was easy and helping them move in/out was also easy. It was 1994 and the pay was $5.00 per hour for 17 hours per month, which translated into enough money to pay for rending the dorm. The first semester I earned $385 dollars. I continued the job for the next two semesters and earned $723 and $425 respectively. During the summer weekends and school breaks, I worked at the Mexican restaurant mentioned previously.
8th Job – During the summer of 1994 and 1995, I worked at the local power company with their summer work program. The first summer I walked through fields and swamps from telephone pole to pole testing the ground wires to help determine if there was any stray voltage, which was dangerous for livestock and farmers. The second summer I drove around reading electrical meters for places that were not being read by the owners, like at lake homes.
It was a good job and I learned how to read a map and navigate too hard to find places. Because of this job, I was also able to get a $1000 college scholarship from the power company as long as I attended one class related to cooperatives. In the summer of 1994 I earned $5.75 per hour and $6.25 per hour in 1995.
9th Job – After graduating from the community college in 1995, I started attending a four-year engineering university. I moved into the dorms and didn’t have a job because I knew the school work was going to be very difficult. During the summer of 1996 I didn’t come home because I married my beautiful wife and moved into her apartment. That year we lived on her income, which was $7.50 per hour and my student loans. My summer job was in construction with one of my old teachers from the community college that I attended the year before.
The wages were $7.50 per hour, but I also earned some overtime pay at $11.25 per hour. The work was mostly shingling and painting older homes. I loved shingling because it was outside in the fresh air, high off the ground (remember by tree climbing days as a kids) and it was hard work - the only kind of work that I had respect for. That summer I earned $4000, which was just what I needed to get through the next year of college.
This was also about the time that I started my first business with my brothers. Since then, I have started many businesses; here is the story about that.
10th Job – In the summer of 1997, I had completed four years of college, two at the community college and two at the university. In order to graduate I needed one more semester. That meant I needed another summer job. I studied as hard as I worked and one of my senior professors took notice and asked me to work with him on a summer research project funded by a research grant that he received. The job was full time and paid $8.00 per hour. I learned a lot about advanced mathematics to determine how electrical chemical reactions take place in the real world. After the summer, the professor tried to talk me into continuing my education with his Master degree program, but my wife said no to that. She was right, it was time to get a real job and start paying for the education that I was lucky enough to get.
After graduating from college and working all these jobs, I still had to borrow $18,500 dollars to pay for my college education. When I landed my first professional job I immediately created a repayment schedule to pay off my college loans as soon as possible. It took us a few years because we also purchased our first home within six months of graduation, but we did it within three years.
11th Job – My first job after graduating from college was as an embedded software engineer working for an electronic design and engineering company (which is now owned by John Deere). The job was great and the pay was even greater. My starting salary was about $19 per hour. I worked for this company for the next three years, until we started getting home sick and wanted to move closer to our extended families.
12th Job – One day I was reading the Sunday news paper and there it was, a software design opportunity in my home town. I applied for the job and used my persistence that my mother taught me years ago to push for an interview. I landed the job and have been working at that job for nine years. This is the job I currently have today.
I hope you enjoyed this little story about my job history. This is a story about how a poor boy became financially successful – although I still have many more years to work.
I worked for my education starting with helping to pay for my high school education. I also had six jobs before starting college. The US is the richest nation in the world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get rich or even to get out of poverty. It takes a lot of hard work to gain experience, pay for a good education and pay for living along the way. But it can be done. It’s hard to believe that I started working when I was thirteen, especially now that my daughter is ten. She is only a few years way from starting her own journey of working.
The only way that the US will recover from the recession is with hard work and savings. Our current path of massive debt and government expansion will fail and when it does it is going to be bad - really bad. The current administration has no idea what they are doing. They are leading us over a cliff into an economic disaster.
Major colleges, universities and even private schools will close as the recession deepens, while the cost of eduction increases as the credit market reduces student loans and the job market reduces the availability of summer jobs. Within a few years, many students will be priced out of college and forced to work for everything they have. Major universities have already begun cutting back, UC Berkeley just cut 100 jobs, thousands of classes, increased tuition and cut pay by 4-10 percent.
It's not going to be pretty and I wish more people understood how damaging the current policies are and what a disaster they are laying just ahead of us. But the majority of the administration, congress, media and even the academic establishment remains convinced that the way best way to go over a cliff is to step on the gas pedal - pumping more money into the economy, without respect for the cliff we are approaching or the fact that too much gas (money pumping) is how we got to the edge of the cliff in the first place.
The recession isn't over, it's just getting started. Today this story is kind of funny to read and think about all those jobs that one person had, but in the next decade this story will become common. Series IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3