|Did you ever wake up one day and wonder what happened to your life and how different it might have turned out?
At 15 I was going to be the greatest lawyer ever, at 17 I was going to be the greatest psychologist in history, and by 21 I was going to be the next big singing sensation. Well, I never attended law school, I only took one psychology course, and although I did make some good money as a singer for a while, I never got "discovered" or got that "big break," and eventually, singing the same songs to a different set of drunks every weekend pushed me to give that up as well.
I've been thinking about what happened, and I think it all comes down to short cuts. From the time we are young, we hear everyone talking about shortcuts to get what they want or to get where there going via an easier path or less hard work. How many of you have been in a car trip with your parents and had to suffer through another one of your dad's tests of the latest shortcut to shave 7 minutes off the trip to the lake? I fell into that same mindset when approaching my senior year of high school
I began to look into colleges, and facing four to six more years of school seemed like an eternity. I was ready to start my "real" life, and I began to look for short cuts. I decided that instead of the traditional college education I would instead attend business school, so I enrolled in a very expensive, very intense ten month accounting program. Did you notice that I had never mentioned being an accountant anywhere on my to do list? But, this would be short schooling and I would get a great job (almost guaranteed by the placement office at the school) and my life would be started.
I took a part-time job in a home improvement warehouse store while attending school, and went to classes full-time during the day and worked in the evenings and on weekends. After competing my associate's program in accounting, I rushed into the corporate accounting world and started a great job. Well, not exactly.
About 5 months into the program I realized that I hated accounting and never wanted to work in the field of accounting or finance, but the money had been paid and I am not a quitter, so I graduated. What I should have done next was apply to the local 4 year college of my choice and pursued a degree in something that I was actually passionate about, but instead I took another short cut and became a full-time employee at the home improvement warehouse, for the next 10 years.
Eventually I decided it was time to move on, the hours were crazy, especially with a husband and young child, so I took a job in a much smaller hardware store with regular business hours, 8-5. One of the regular customers, a local realtor, talked me into working in his office, so I jumped at the chance for a "real" job and took the job. I was a glorified receptionist and rent collector and I hated it. I decided though, that now that I had office experience I would try a different approach and applied for a receptionist position in an aerospace manufacturing firm. Little did I know what a difference that would make in my life. I was fascinated by the manufacturing processes and procedures. I began to learn everything I could about manufacturing, and even squeezed in a few night courses on Technical Math and Engineering Drawing.
On the job I moved into production scheduling and planning, and began a 14 year (and still counting) career in supply chain. I have been a buyer, a planner, a master scheduler, inventory manager, demand forecasting manager, purchasing manager and distribution manager. I have continued to take shortcuts, for instance when encouraged by management to go back to school to pursue a bachelor's degree, instead I became involved in APICs and studied and passed testing to receive two certifications: CPIM - Certified In Production and Inventory Management, and CSCP - Certified Supply Chain Professional. I have taught these same courses at a local community college, and have been amazed at everything I have learned and been able to share with others.
Do I regret not attending college and getting the traditional four year degree? Yes, but not for the lack of education or training, I have received and am still receiving those through on the job training. I wish I would've gone for the experience, and the learning of independence and self-confidence that I have watched my daughter work through as she left home to attend college.
Do I think it has made it harder on me to reach certain career goals without that degree? Yes, but I believe that by having to work harder to prove myself capable that I have grown into a confident professional who is unafraid to take risks and face challenges that others might be hesitant to tackle.
I also learned, that every job I have ever had has been a "real" job, I learned so much at each position I held, especially things that are hard to learn from a textbook. Knowledge that is critical to any successful business, like exemplary customer service, and the intricacies and rewards of true teamwork. Seeing product manufacturing first hand and have a true sense of pride and ownership in the products being developed. I have yet to see those things taught well from any textbook.
I have worked for small privately owned companies, mid-size companies managed by capital investment firms, and multi-billion dollar corporations, and have loved every minute of it.
So maybe I will never win that big case in court, and I may not ever bring anyone to a life-altering breakthrough in therapy, and you most likely won't ever see my name on the billboard charts, but I am one of the lucky few who can wake up every day and know that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing and I am truly excited to go to work everyday and be able to say without sarcasm that yes, I do love my job.