As soon as I turned 15 and was able to obtain a work permit, I would spend two hours a day after school and six hours every Saturday cleaning machinery and doing janitorial work at my step father’s tool and die shop. I fell in love with the filthy atmosphere. In my mind, dirt and filth represented hard work. I would clean around cnc machinery that was used to fabricate metal products. Within a few weeks I became an expert at operating overhead cranes and fork trucks. The men that worked at my step father’s shop went out of their way to begin teaching me things about the machines they operated and secrets about the trade.
As I got older and spent more and more time in that filthy tool shop, I knew that I had found my calling. I had already chosen my career field before my second year of high school began. I loved my job so much that even when I was not on the clock working, I would spend the majority of my time at the shop learning and absorbing as much as I could about the machinery that we used. The men who I worked with that had become like family to me started suggesting different classes I should take every semester that would help me prepare for the newer technology and computers that my step dad was using to replace some of our older equipment.
Growing up knowing where I was going to work and what I would be doing to earn a living, I did not put a lot of thought into college. One day when the topic was brought up during our break at work, one of the guys asked me, do you want to spend your entire career cleaning the machines, or are you going to get the education you need to operate one of them? From that day forward, receiving a college education became my most important priority. I finally took the time to notice that the employees at the shop who had received a college degree were making more money, appeared to be more productive with their time, and were most importantly happy with what they were doing with their lives.
Since graduating high school, I have received a few college degrees making it possible to climb the corporate ladder at our family’s tool shop. After high school I worked my way through two years of college to become one of our 13 cnc machine programmers at the time. A couple of years later I received another degree that allowed me to become the supervisor of the 18 people in my department. I then went back for a third degree in business management, which played a part in my step father’s decision to make me the vice president of our company that now employs over 90 people. Every now and then I can still be found cleaning machinery in order to get dirty enough to convince my wife that I have had a hard day at work. I love my job. I also love my education that has made everything possible.