My working career has been an interesting one. I've done everything from clean kennels and carpets to working on high tech laser and electron microscopes used in microchip manufacturing. I spent a lot of time after high school as a convenience store clerk, and even did a stint as a meat cutter. Mostly though, I have worked in IT. I never really planned my career path. I just moved from one job to another as situations evolved. Sometimes I was trying to get away from a place where I just wasn't happy, other times I was moving towards something better. Once or twice I had to leave something I liked because circumstances made it prudent. I have always loved computers and technology, so it was no surprise that I ended up working in IT. I was fortunate enough to start out at a time when you did not need much in the way of credentials, you just had to have a little knowledge and understanding of the esoteric ways of computers and networks. As I advanced I realized I would need more, so I picked up a couple of degrees along the way. It wasn’t until I started working at DeVry University (which was still a tech school when I started) that I fell in love with the idea of working in education. I think it was the first time when I really felt like I was doing something worthwhile. I loved the academic environment. I had taken the job because I needed to move from Maine to KC so my wife could be closer to her mother, and so I could be closer to my family. No great deal of thought went into it, but it ended up being a really good match. I was there for five years, and there were a lot of changes at DeVry during that time. Ultimately I was not happy with the direction it was going, and staff reductions and changes left me looking to move on. I did move on, but now had a direction and a goal. I wanted to work in Academia again, and so I got a MA in Educational Technology (or Teaching and Learning with Technology as my degree says) and started looking for a job at another university. The University of Kansas was my primary choice. It was the largest university within commuting distance, had a beautiful campus, and seemed like a good place to spend the rest of my working career. It took six years and four jobs from time I left DeVry to actually land the job at KU, but I did.
I’ve been here a bit over seven months at this point, and I really like it. I hope this is where I’m able to spend the next twenty to thirty years until I retire. In my working career, I've never spent over five years at one job, and I hope to overcome that here. Not that I necessarily hope to be doing exactly the same thing twenty years from now, but I at least hope to be part of the same organization. One thing that has struck me along the way are those people that have been part of the same company for twenty or thirty years. A few of them were just too scared of change to make a move, but a lot of them seemed to really believe in what they were doing. I've seen them at retirement parties and been envious of the respect they've earned. I've listened to them at meetings as they were able to work through problems with wisdom gained through years of experience. They had a purpose, and you could tell that what they did was not just a job to them. There is something really special when you listen to these people talk with others that have been in the organization for a long time. There is a sense of camaraderie and shared experience that connects them to the institution in a way that transient employees will never understand. It is much more common for those of my generation and younger, and for those in the technology world to change jobs frequently. A lot of times that is the only way to improve your pay and your situation. But I think there is much that is lost when you never stay in one place long enough to really belong.
I hope twenty years from now I will be able to have some of that connection that comes from being part of something greater. I want to look back on my career and not feel like I was just passing time until I retired or died, that what I did had some impact on the world. This seems like a good place to make that happen.