Friday, June 8, 2012

From Crab Cakes to Commercial Roof Design

"I couldn't stand the thought of slinging one more crab cake or spending one more day smelling of fish," Peter lamented as he thought back to a 6-year span of his life during his mid- to late-twenties when he worked as a waiter at a seafood restaurant.
"One day while working a double-shift, I went out to the parking lot to grab a quick nap in my car before my second shift of the day. As I sat in my car staring at the windshield, I knew right then and there that I needed to do something to make a change in my life. I knew going back to school was the right thing to do, I just didn't know for what or where."
Many people can certainly identify with Peter's story: working in a dead-end job, unhappy about the direction of your life, and feeling hopeless and confused about how to go about making any sort of change.
What was it that changed for Peter that one day, sitting in his car between shifts, after 6 years of working a job he loathed that caused him to actually take action? How many times over that 6-year span did the thought of doing something else cross Peter's mind? "Pretty much everyday," said Peter. When asked what was different about this one day that made him do something as opposed to the all the rest, Peter didn't have a good answer. It wasn't a particularly bad day. He worked double-shifts almost every weekend. So what was it that caused Peter to go home that night and look up colleges?
In order for action to occur, the fear of staying the same must be greater than the fear of change.
Peter looked up career-based colleges in his area. He had tried the community college route years ago and had no desire to take all of the "fluff" classes that had contributed to him wasting time and dropping out last time. Also, since Peter was approaching his 30th birthday, time was of the essence. But he didn't know the first thing about what to study or which type of career to pursue. After searching for some ideas online, Peter's feeling of hopelessness returned momentarily. "I didn't know what to do at first... I thought I was destined to work meaningless jobs my whole life."
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Many people get to the point where they know they need to do something, they just don't know what that something is. And instead of taking that first, sometimes difficult step, they give up before truly getting started and return to their old routine. Peter, on the other hand, chose to take that first step. Although he know nothing about what career path to choose, he knew he had to do something. "I actually stumbled onto my decision by accident", Peter remembers. Initially Peter decided to look into a broadcasting school, but accidentally dialed the phone number for a different school on his list. After looking into the programs at this other school and talking with an admissions counselor, he realized there may be a different path for him that he never considered or knew existed.
"Again, I had a fairly clear idea of what I didn't want to do or what I wasn't good at, but I never really considered what I was good at, and didn't know all of the options that were available",explained Peter. After visiting a career-based college and learning about their offerings Peter began to feel better about his options. Never really considering himself a tech-savvy person Peter had dismissed many careers that he assumed were computer-based. Then Peter learned about a computer-aided drafting course and the potential career opportunities in that field. "I was actually never 100% sure about the decision to do drafting, but I was 100% sure about needing to make a change. So I went with something that I thought I could see myself doing, had some career options, and never looked back."
Less than two years after that double-shift at the seafood restaurant Peter was nearly finished with his associates degree, working his first mechanical drafting job. Peter wasn't satisfied, however, and continued school for another two years to complete his bachelors degree in project management. Now, Peter is a project manager at a large commercial roofing design firm.
"The decision to go back to school and earn my degree was something that I had my doubts about, but now, looking at where I am compared to just a few years ago... there is no doubt that it was the right choice." When asked about his salary and whether the investment and tuition was worth it Peter responded, "I'm not gonna lie, it's something I'm worried about... having student loans to repay. But my salary now is almost double what I was making before, and most importantly I'm proud to tell my family and friends about what I do and I'm happy to go to work everyday."
The goal of is to provide real, inspirational stories of people who overcame their fear of change and found a new direction through college education. also serves as a reference for anyone unsure of what school to attend or what career path may be best.

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