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A party boy wants to grow up

I never studied at school because I was too busy partying. How can I get my career on track in my thirties?

Kudos to you for wanting something better says our elder. Be bold!

Dear EWC

I’m 32 and live in a small town in Virginia, to be more specific a small ‘Southern’ town where jobs are hard to come by and careers are nearly impossible. I am my own worst enemy in the fact that when I was younger I wanted to spend more time partying than studying. I had good grades up until about mid freshman year in high school. I wanted so badly to fit in and be cool that I lost sight of any future that I may have had with higher education. I started partying, skipping school and lost track of everything. I managed to scrape by and graduate and tried a community college for a year in business management but found that I couldn’t focus on how I needed to because I was still in party mode. After one year I left and started working full time. I’ve had a few sales jobs but the majority of my work life has been in factories doing manual labor production. I just recently had my second child. My wife and I get by check to check but she wants to spend more time with the children and I would like to be able to solely support them. I’ve looked into online classes but the cost and time are not really ideal with me working 10-12 hours a day. Is there anything I can do to better myself and my family without putting us in a financial drought while I’m going to school?

Mama-Joan replies

You sound like such a wonderful caring husband and father. Kudos to you for wanting to better yourself and your family’s circumstances. I do have a couple of thoughts for you, which are solely my opinions which you can freely discard if they do not fit your situation.

1. Wife’s desire to spend more time with children: Times have changed, and it is rarely realistic in this day and age for both parents to not be employed. If you opt for your wife to stay at home full-time and then for some unforeseen reason you lost your job, your family could be in dire straits. Also, as you think about the future with a goal of you (or your wife) continuing your education, your wife’s paycheck will be crucial. With that said, perhaps there’s a way for your wife to reduce her work schedule from 40 hrs/week to 32 or 24 hours. Even a one-day reduction can be a godsend when dealing with a hectic young family and may provide breathing room for your family. (I’d hate to see you take on more hours. You are important to your family and the long-term effect of 10-12 hour days isn’t healthy for you or your marriage.)

2. Check with your HR department: I encourage you to visit with the HR department and supervisors at the factory where you are working. I can tell from your letter that you are organized, thoughtful and are a good writer. To my eye, you have innate abilities that indicate you should investigate any/all opportunities that may be available. Set up an appointment with HR/supervisor (it is important that you take a meeting seriously, which means setting actual time aside) and tell them exactly what you’ve outlined to me in your letter. Inquire about opportunities that may be available, i.e. management training programs, company higher education scholarships, and job openings in other departments where you can learn new job skills. Be clear that you intend to move forward and have ambitions. In this day and age when companies are desperate for good employees, your company should appreciate your initiative and, hopefully, will do what they can to keep you.

3. Check out vocational/technical school opportunities: I sympathize with your concern over the cost of returning to school. The loss of a paycheck coupled with school debt is a societal problem that I hope our politicians will address. With that said, I encourage both you (and your wife) to visit the career counseling offices at your local vocational/technical colleges to find out career options that might be less costly than a 4-year degree. I believe with some of the technical professions (electrician, plumber, carpenter, nursing …) the training is on-the-job with a paycheck after an initial classroom period. (As an example, the hospital where I worked provided 4-year scholarships to students pursuing nursing degrees as long as they agreed to work for four years at the hospital upon graduation.) Hopefully, you will discover opportunities that you never thought possible or achievable.

4. Get Linked-In: I’m a retiree and am not up-to-date on all the on-line job search services available, but do understand that a majority of jobs are now listed (and filled) through on-line services. I encourage you (and your wife) to research these services as well as the services offered through your local Job Service office.
Best of luck. I am certain when you look back five years from now you will have achieved more success than you thought possible. Be bold in your search and know you have the aptitude to achieve whatever goals you set. I hope my advice is helpful. Please write again anytime.

Letter #: 446914
Category: Career

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