I started my working life as a Junior Naval Aircraft Mechanic 2nd Class, in the Royal Navy, you don’t get any lower on the ladder than that! I was 16 years old and left my home in Liverpool, caught a train to Plymouth where I began my journey to find a career that would work for me. (And YES … I did serve on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal shown here.)
We all face those kinds of decisions … what do I want to do with my life?
I knew that I had to leave school, I was not academically inclined and even though my marks were good enough to carry on I just had a burning need to get out and do something. I was very interested in car mechanics, having helped my dad over the years in keeping our old “bangers” going. The problem at the time was that in the early 1970s jobs were tough to come by (sound familiar?). So I decided to join the military, and since I did not want to go and fight in Northern Ireland I chose the Navy over the Army. One problem was that they didn’t have any “car mechanic” jobs … “But we do have aircraft mechanics, what do you think about that then mate?”. And so a career was born.
I spent seven years in the Royal Navy and at 23 years old had to make a choice between continuing in that career, or choosing something different. Some influences on my decision at the time were (a) most of the aircraft mechanic jobs available would be in Northern Scotland or the Middle East; (b) there was much talk about world oil shortages, and who knew if airplanes would still be around 20 years later; and (c) a random aptitude test I took to see whether I would be a candidate to work with computers!
I chose to get into the computer world as a programmer … and went back to college for a two year course, feeling very old amongst a class of 18 year olds. My attitude to learning was now very different … I worked hard, finished top of the class and didn’t look back.
After two years as a programmer working for Barclay’s Bank my experience won me a job in Canada. Here I progressed through various roles, moved into sales, then management and eventually had the opportunity to own my own company.
Some lessons from this story?
- We don’t all find the perfect career out of the gate.
- Anything we do adds to our life experiences and we can always build on that. I have no regrets about my decisions along the way.
- It doesn’t matter what you do … just do something.
- At different times in your life you will be given opportunities … make a choice, live with it and do the best you can!
- If you work hard you will get ahead … even this dumb kid from Liverpool!
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln
Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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