When I left the military, I had no job or even prospects. I was heading into the great unknown. Within literally 6 hours of arriving in the Syracuse area, I had an offer:
We arrived in Syracuse in mid-December. After a brief nap following our 30 hour drive, my wife and I went out to get some Christmas presents for the kids. One of our stops was Sears. While awaiting a clerk, I asked if they needed electronic repair techs. I was asked to come back the following week, and hired the week after that.
Sadly, that job was the first of several part-time, poor-quality jobs that I had until I finally landed a job at a Rochester television station. I had that job for a year, but hated the Rochester area; too busy, crowded, noisy, angry. So, when the offer to return to Syracuse building audio mixing consoles arose, I jumped at it.
That job sounded good on paper, but turned out to be a "mill". They told you when you could take a break, you punched a clock, you had mandatory overtime, work quotas, and task-masters as bosses. They fired a lady for having a heart attack! After about a year there, I left to join a local television station.
I worked at the television station for 6 years until early March, 2001.The greed just got to be too much for me.
When I was first hired, the station was just like a family. Everyone worked together to put out the best product we could. The anchors had been there for decades and were considered part of the community. The station was a pillar of the community every bit as much as the local police or fire departments.
Then, the General manager died suddenly of a heart attack. The replacement GM came from out of town and turned the station on its ear. Within months, every department hated all of the others, the anchors were fired and replaced by New York City outsiders. The station started losing money, and was soon sold. The new owners didn't care about the station long-term, they only wanted to suck every penny they could to pay off the massive debt they'd incurred buying us.
Rather than "belt-tighten" at the stations that weren't making money, they sucked the guts out of the stations that were. They installed a new General Manager that was SO greedy, he wouldn't even repair the equipment to allow the station to stay on the air. He had a policy against hiring qualified workers (they cost more than high school kids), and encouraged long-term employees to quit. The frustration of not being able to do my job, coupled with the GM's policies of not hiring qualified co-workers, and making engineers the personal servants of Anchors and Producers, was too much for me.
An added incentive to leave was the odd hours, weekend shifts, VERY low pay, and non-existent benefits. I hadn't had a holiday off in 4 years.
The broadcast field lost another qualified engineer. I started out as a Production Coordinator for a local manufacturer. They produced equipment for the semiconductor fabrication industry. It was good work at a good place, but my timing was off. I started there as soon as the semiconductor industry went into the toilet. They soon went down to 4 day weeks, and laid several people off. The future looked dim.
I jumped into yet another position. I was one of three people tasked with maintaining the brand-new press at my Local Newspaper! The press was computer controlled using fiber optic communication to time various motors. It was both a nightmare and a dream for a technician.
The pay and benefits are outstanding: they even offered full tuition to the college of my choice. I stayed there for over 6 years.
There was very little ingenuity involved, if the press was running well, we simply made plates...mindless drone work. My immediate supervisor was exactly my age, and his supervisor was also our age...no chance of ever advancing. That, coupled with (again), odd hours, dirty work, no holidays, rotating shifts, made it very tough to stay there.
I took advantage of one of their benefits and enrolled n a Bachelor's Degree program.
As of June 4th, 2006, I now hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Science, mathematics, and Technology.
In June, 2007, I finally left the newspaper for my "dream" job. I started as the Manufacturing Engineer for a cutting-edge technology company. As such, I was tasked with making test fixtures, writing work instructions, and improving and maintaining existing products.
In Spring of 2015, I was promoted to Quality Manager of that same company. My duties expanded to include improving the efficiency and quality in the entire business, maintaining and updating the ISO9001 and Safety systems.
I work 4 10-hour days, day shift; no holidays, no weekends, no nights. I can, within limits, work my own schedule. I dress well, and stay clean during my day. I'm finally paid to think rather than do!! This position is truly a dream come true!
After 14 good years there, the corporation put their thumb on us hard! They fired my General manager and rearranged the management structure. All of the managers now report to different bosses. The leadership focus changed from our business, to each individual divisional "silo". They effectively destroyed everything that was uniquely wonderful about this workplace: a family atmosphere where everyone willingly pitched in for the success of the business. Instead this new structure is the worst of every other business out there: the work is drudgery, the workers are considered mere drones to be tightly controlled by the managers who pat themselves on the back for every dollar the company makes. I can't imagine this business will survive much longer.
I endured this new nightmare for about 18 months until i just couldn't take it any more.
In 2 weeks I will be retired. Given a lot of luck, this will be the final phase of my "career". I have plenty to keep me busy, and may original designs I may end up selling for beer money. It's both an exciting and scary change, but one I welcome after 40 years of work.