Old fart here . . .
I spent my early teenage years working after school and in summer at my Dad’s 3-bay Shell Service Station, kerosene/fuel oil tanker truck for home deliveries, and his HVAC contractor business. I did a lot of the screwdriver/spanner/multimeter thing as I wanted to see how things worked and to fix anything that was broke.
About this time, Dad became an alcoholic and slowly lost every business he had. I started working full time as a cook in a steakhouse my last 2-3 years in high school. During summers, I also worked the mornings in an ice cream plant. I lived frugally and saved most of my earnings. My wife (9th grade girl friend then) was frugal and a hard worker too.
Dad wanted to be an Engineer, but he said there was no financial support from the family, so he got into the businesses he was in through the “school of hard knocks”. His Dad was pulled into a cotton gin and killed when Dad was 2 years old, so his Mom raised 3 kids on her own after that.
I did good in science and math in public school. I won the “Chemistry Award” my senior year.
During my senior year, there was no financial support from the family, Dad drank it all. At graduation, I won a local scholarship and an Alcoa Grant. That plus my savings, and I also kept working every summer at the steakhouse and ice cream plant, I paid my way through college.
I started out wanting to be a ME with a HVAC concentration, but Dad suggested I consider a ChE degree, so I did. Luckily, the company I hired on with had a great training program. Plus, I almost got an MSChE in process equipment design at a local college going at night, but I was transferred before I could get the sheep skin.
I have self-learned whatever I needed to, to get the job at hand done! I firmly believe “knowledge is power!”
I’ve been in process, production, projects, and HR. I hated HR. I listened to union grievances 2 days a week, was on the contract negotiating team, and hired and fired people. After 1 year I went back to process. If the company had not accomodated me, I had a job lined up with another company. A wise man told me, “life is too short to be unhappy”. Surprisingly, he was my HR boss. I’ve always been an open book to my bosses. Some would say that is not wise, but it has worked for me.
So, I’ve been enjoying work for about 44 years now (minus 1 in HR). I always went where the company wanted me. Eight transfers/moves, 5 U.S. states, and 2 countries besides the U.S. I loved it!
Who knows, maybe I’ll retire this year.