What to be when I grow up?
I am posting this from a new account to un-link any details from my previous posts, I’m not trying to hide anything, just trying to reduce biases and keep things simple.
I am coming up on a retirement point after 20+ years in the military and I’m seeking input on possible jobs/careers I might find interesting. I’ve DONE the “find your passion/perfect jobs” books and I’m not that much closer (What color is your parachute/Pathfinder/48 days etc. etc. etc) to a starting solution. If you can offer any specifics about some of the jobs I’ve listed near the end, please do!
I grew up low middle class (moving when the power got shut off cause we couldn’t pay it, I’ve stood in line for food assistance before food stamps) and the parents didn’t hold down long term jobs, not many folks in the extended family did either so my family examples have not been great.
I’m asking for folks to take a look at the info below and see if something “clicks” and give me recommendations/thoughts on what direction I might excel at (doesn’t have to be enjoyable per se… Not afraid of tough work that requires long periods of effort). For example, I’m thinking about CNC machine operator because I love working with tools/my hands/on my feet/with tech/with computers etc. etc. etc.
I’ll offer a ton of “data” here and hope it’s not too much… thanks in advance if you make it all the way through this… Please call me out if I contradict myself etc. (it’s easiest to fool ourselves right) or advise if I missed something and I’ll update the post to give the fullest picture possible.
Post retirement, I’m not afraid to go start a job, give it 90 days, realize it’s not for me and move on but I want to do as much homework as I can to ensure my efforts are not in vain. I will say, this is a strange concept to me, to jump from job to job until I really settle in on something, I’ve been institutionalized here… I’ve been in the military longer than I was out of it and I’m not big on major life changes (same company for 20+ years, same car for 13 years, married for 20+ etc. etc. etc.) I am doing face to face interviews with those who retired before me and trying to capture a broad spectrum of jobs/duties but I still need to make some contacts in areas that interest me as most of my network is Government Service/GOVT contractors.
Income isn’t really an issue; anything I make will be investment money for the most part. I’m not looking for status or self-realization from the work/workplace (example, I rate the third parking spot from the door, I took the sign down and park 200 yards away, walking past my assistant and 90% of employees vehicles. I don’t say this to brag about how “pious” I am but offer it as an example of my mindset).
Education (mostly earned in my off time, via self-study):
PMP prep course (2016) Taking PMP exam in a few months
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer (2015)
ICPM Certified Manager (2014) (options for growth were limited while deployed)
Masters in organizational leadership (2012)
Undergraduate certificate in financial management (2007)
BA in business studies (2005)
Military Trade Schools/Collateral duty schools – various
Short order cook
Loaded trucks at wal-mart distribution
Jet engine mechanic (overhauled engines at the “DEPOT” level)
Oil analysis technician (one of the few mechs that could read “good nough” to go to the course….)
Quality assurance technician, inspector, inspecting programs and engines/props
UAV mechanic X 3 (three platforms)
Moved into “middle management” at this point
UAV operator (one platform)
Maintenance supervisor (front line/division/dept of 250-moved into “upper management” at this point)
HR supervisor (division of 85, command of 900)
Collateral duties- (one thing about the military, you never have just one job…)
PT program coordinator/facilitator
Engine Program Manager for 18 units/216 airplanes
Shop level coordinator for Tools/Training/Calibration
Eval writer, problem solver, “personal issues” counselor (could probably clep a psych course!)
Pertinent? (not sure if this helps/should be included or not…):
44 years old, in great shape
Married 20+ years, two kids, one out of the house
Have poor hearing (20+ years of jet engines will do that to ya!)
Have a pension coming my way, am debt free but 80K on the house, we live a frugal/minimalist life and could meet all bills (water/cable and such…) with my pension, just would not have anything to invest. Wife works and enjoys her work, she does an admin job that she’ll stay in until they make her leave, if ever.
Plan to stay in current area for a few more years until kid finishes school, then we’d love to go overseas somewhere and live/work for a few years.
Self-starter, intrinsically motivated, don’t need work to provide structure or motivation, I often work harder/longer hours/more diligently than 90% of those around me BUT, sometimes in the military, this isn’t that hard to do (depends on the unit, type of duty, current tasking). I learned this habit early, while washing dishes the pretty assistant manager gave me kudos for finding something to do/clean/wipe down/help others every time there was a free minute, now THAT’S motivation…. Since then, I’ve always tried to “work harder than they are paying you for”.
Family and taking care of the house (would have made a GREAT stay at home dad….too late now...boooo).
Working with my hands, mechanical thinker, good with a hammer, a wrench, a power saw…..
I love to read all kinds of books; I finish between 30-60 a year.
I was the WORST high school student (life was about working to have a car to increase opportunities to chase girls and drink booze!) but after graduation I found that I absolutely love to learn. Since joining the military I have always been the guy taking advantage of down time at work, picking up a tech manual or reading a book, and taking off duty education/perusing quals/certs etc. whenever possible. I don’t watch much TV and have used my curiosity and unwillingness to sit still (and ADD???) to advance a few years ahead of my peer groups, I topped out in paygrade six years ago and didn’t want to move over to the Commissioned Officer side of the house (probably a mistake…).
Enjoy working on my feet and being outside, even in the bad weather I always know that I’ll be nice and comfortable at the end of the day, not afraid to get dirty.
Good with computers, taught myself basic on a C64, have been building them/using them for 30 years (or so), taught myself HTML years ago but have not kept up with this/other languages due to time constraints. I used to be “that guy” everyone asked for help/advice but I “got out of the business” as I was tired of being unpaid tech support for family/friends.
Organizing things/areas (extremely organized compared to many). I get a perverse pleasure from coming into an area and cleaning it up/getting rid of junk and organizing a space/work space to it’s as un-cluttered and efficient at possible. The guy who takes over your office and throws away 90% of what you left behind, that’s me.
Love exercise/nutrition, I do most of the cooking at home.
Enjoy writing, using exel, creating new flowcharts/docs/electronic deliverables; really enjoy taking a “system” or a process that doesn’t have a checklist and making a checklist/flowchart etc. for it.
Enjoy travel but don’t want to do too much of it. A week a quarter, a few days every two weeks, no issue, more than that, I’d have to really think about it.
Enjoy REALLY learning something new, breaking it down, creating new “systems” to accomplish it (if required, many times there is no “system/process” in place and I have to build it from scratch, I like that creative process).
Enjoy writing. I don’t mind writing short stories/message board posts/reports for work (if they have value behind them, I lose patience quickly with BS reports that don’t serve value). I have three books started at home and 5-6 fiction ideas that I don’t have time for right now.
I’ve always been a good QA inspector and don’t hold punches when doing inspections. I’ve not been peoples favorite as I don’t hesitate to write things up as I see them (I use a little more tact in my old age but still don’t hesitate to call a spade a spade).
Teaching others/training/delegation. I don’t do ANYTHING that I can pass on to someone else once I have it mastered. I don’t hesitate to train anyone around me in any skills/knowledge I have (lots in the military want to be the “I have a secret” guy and not train those around them to increase their perceived value, I’m the opposite, I’d teach my phone to answer email if I could). On the flip side, I don’t offer advice unless it’s requested (a man convinced against his will and all….)
Dealing with large groups of people. I’m introverted and although a manageable public speaker, I hate the spotlight (I left ego behind a LONG time ago and tend to enjoy working behind the scenes rather than being the guy out in front).
Dealing with too many people in a day. I skew towards misanthrope (working on it!), just NOT a people person. I’ve got the skills and can help with issues/mentor/guide/provide correction but am tired of being the” DAD” (so many people issues at this level)/and enforcer.
I can come off as blunt or repetitive as I want to ensure effective communication and often state the obvious rather than just assume folks know what I’m saying/what I mean. This can “come off wrong” as folks have told me it felt like I was talking down to them/belittling them. I’ve worked on that over the years and try to minimize it.
Commuting. I would like to walk/ride a bike to work and will take a pay cut to do it. There are high paying jobs in this area that I’d have to drive 30-45 min a day in high traffic and wait in long lines at base gates, I’m not doing that. It limits my options but life it too short to spend 7-16 hours a week in traffic.
Doing the same thing day in and day out. Being chained to a desk is a nightmare to me, especially if it involves managing an established program/project that doesn’t require creativity/problem solving/using a brain. The idea of getting a govt or contractor job and surfing the internet for the rest of my life (sooooo many of them doing it, I see it daily….) is my idea of HELL. On that note, having a job where you HAVE to be at work, even when there’s no work to be done, I want to stay away from that. No work + nice day outside, I’m gone!
I’m not great with math. I can do the basics but I’m the kid who had to re-take geometry in high school. I’m not great at that type of abstract + mathematical thinking. I quickly get into wondering what the practical application of XXXXX is….
I’m not good with bureaucracy and “that’s the way we’ve always done it” bullshit. After 20+ years I’ve had enough. I’m the guy asking “why, why, why” and ignoring requests for stupid data calls, refuse to do reports that don’t add value (I learned long ago to stop doing a report and see how long it takes for someone to call, that shows you the value of that item).
Looking for the stress “sweet spot” of not too little (staring at a computer waiting for an email so I actually have work do to) and not too much (trying to get things done without enough resources, dealing with people who don’t want to work, dealing with non-stop personal issues). Since I’ve got an “F-you pension” and plenty of savings, I’m not going to do work that isn’t rewarding on some level. On the flip side, I don’t need to be the guy in the spotlight, getting attention for how hard I work or how important I am, I’m ok with people not knowing me or what I do, I don’t work for ego satisfaction.
Ideas I’ve had/areas to explore:
Field engineer- working outdoors/inspecting/working with minimal people?
CNC operator/machinist- working with my hands + computers
Elevator/escalator mechanic /welder/pipefitter- not sure if I want to deal with a union and start out as a gopher and “work back up”
Solar power installer tech- not sure where this field is going
Maintenance guy at a large facility/building- working up to managing the efforts for a building/chain/org?
Repair of machinery at XXX (specialize in repair of automated equipment maybe?)
Personal trainer at a gym- I see a lot of these folks sitting on ass waiting for clients, too much down time?
Program manager for just about anything- I like the idea of setting something up, getting it going, handing it off, start something new/maybe move around a little. Ongoing operations = not appealing to me.
Mail delivery/UPS truck driver- outdoors, minimal interaction/supervision…. (but ooohhhh the bureaucracy if USPS)
Teaching at nearby community college or tech schools- business mgt/leadership/program management/physical sciences
Technical writer- need to research this more, have a very vague idea of what it entails….
Work from home on XXXXX using a computer, medical transcription etc….
Management consultant- with over 13 years of leadership/management and my degree/certs, I think I could talk my way into this, not sure if I want to.
Short order cook/bar back/bartender/Home depot guy/retail floor jockey. One thing I do enjoy about staying out of retail is not working retail hours and having holiday off. I’m not better than this work but wonder if I’d be under-utilizing my skills and abilities here. I’m not looking to find the meaning of life at work or make a billion dollars but… re-stocking the lightbulb section might grow old quickly. Same with cooking/bartending, can I stomach taking orders after all these years…. I think I can but only experience will tell.
BLUE SKY STUFF HERE:
Staying home and doing lots of small things- writing books, building arcade cabinets and other woodworking projects to sell, offering in-home personal trainer sessions, hell I’ve considered going to massage school just to increase my knowledge of the human body and have another skill that would transfer to damn near anywhere….. I do see this wearing thin after a time. I don’t need much human interaction but every now and again…. The question is, can I meet that rare need with other things, going to the coffee shop/library/retail establishment etc. and getting some interaction while continuing to work from home?
Buy a tropical smoothie, I love that place. If I liquidated some assets I could open a laundry mat, a 7-11 and tropical smoothie café but that would reduce assets to a point I’m not comfortable with. After growing up lower income, income security/savings are super important (we probably go overboard with it but it’s a personal thing….)
Become an audiobook reader (artist? Not sure of the term). I LOVE to read, I love audiobooks, I love podcasts, I am well spoken, good with tech…. mix it all up and…..
Start a supplement company focusing on truly healthy supplements, higher the homeless/vets who can find work/injured vets who are highly limited.
Start a small diner or café focusing on the “diet of the year” (Paleo this year, who knows what’s next year….)
What I’ll miss about the military (this is probably WAY too in the weeds, just including it in an effort to paint the most detailed picture I can):
- Comradery and working towards something bigger than me
- Running a small maintenance work center (my favorite duty ever, running a shop of 12 guys)
- My current control and freedom (can call and say I’m working from home today, no issues)
- Mentoring those that come to me for advice. I don’t enjoy having to talk to those who are required to come see me due to getting in trouble OR have to get a piece of paperwork signed off (getting a check in the block and HAVE to come to my office) nearly as much as those seeking wisdom…
- The pay. I don’t do it for the money but the pay is decent. The job security is nice, although it’s degraded a great deal in the last 8 years.
What I won’t miss about it:
- The rank structure, having folks “courtesy” to you all day gets tiring! (seriously, I’m a laid-back dude, when I moved up and those in the rank started sucking up because now I’m on the selection boards…. Not cool!)
- Wearing a uniform. I’ll probably wear the “same thing” everyday upon retiring but it will be comfortable and functional, not an experiment or something I’ll be expected/paid to enforce proper wear of….
- Writing evaluations, bullshit reports, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!
- The bureaucracy- aint nothing we can’t turn into a paperwork drill or add some drama to!
- The constant social experimentation
- Being asked to accomplish the mission without the tools/equipment/personnel you need, it’s one thing to run on thin margins but to do hundreds of hours of work because you don’t have enough parts for your systems and you have to move them from aircraft to aircraft, inducing maintenance failures and increasing risks, not cool!
- Continued degradation of ALL benefits including health care/base facilities (I’m surprised I don’t have to pay to use the gym, someone is thinking about it, guaranteed, things are THAT tight!)
- People trying to kill you (not afraid to die but the object is to make the other guy die, right?)
- The commute to work, it’s only 20-25 minutes but it can wear on you in this area… I HATE traffic….
- The age gap between me and 80% of the rest of the service
I hope I haven’t missed anything or miss-represented myself. Honestly, I’m a laid-back dude who loves to learn, doesn’t need much to be happy, loves his family, keeps busy 98% of the day, and hates drama. If I’ve come off as bragging or overbearing, that’s not me in reality but capturing a personality in words can be tough. Thanks for reading (if anyone is still here…)