I'm just curious if anyone else struggles with finding their way into their preferred career like I do.
After highschool, I put off going to college because I really struggled with academics. Science was fun, I was pretty good at math even though it bored me, but language arts and social studies were mostly useless to me, and I struggled every year of highschool just pass with a 60%. So anyway, after highschool, I got a job at a small civil engineering firm as a CADD technician, and they taught me how to do 2-man land surveys, too. I took CAD in highschool for 4 years, so doing it professionally was easy, but I got bored with it very fast, I couldn't focus and found myself frequently wasting time clicking toolbar buttons in AutoCAD because watching the buttons moving in/out of the screen was more fascinating to me; I taught myself Visual Basic in the late '90s and loved designing application interfaces and interactive controls as a hobby.
Fast forward 15 years. I'd had a handful of entry-level jobs for experience--worked at a crooked Apple sales and service franchise (before the Genius Bar existed), I bussed tables at an Olive Garden, delivered pizza and subs, and shuttled customers and washed cars for a new car dealer--but I was just making ends meet, never making any kind of advancement, and being dissatisfied with the opportunities I got was constantly keeping me lethargic and depressed, I was tired going nowhere with every job I had; people always recognized thar I had an uncanny talent for understanding technology, but never properly utilized my skills. Then a friend helped me get a job at Staples because their service dept. needed another computer technician, however, when they hired me, they put me on a register because I had no sales experience. For a year and a half, I tried to upsell the money scams they called "product replacement plans". It take very little time for me to realize that these plans were little more than a gimmick, and 90% of the time, a complete waste of money, and yet, when I got a customer that wasn't foolish enough buy one of these worthless plans, somehow it was my fault, as if I didn't do a good enough job selling junk that I knew was a waste of money. Then one day, the sales manager on duty told us to really push for those donations for charity, so I asked why it was so important for sales, and he said "because we make money on them." At that point, I was at the end of my rope, I wasn't going to get promoted to the service dept.--not that I wanted to anyway, because I wouldn't be allowed to use any of my resources to do the job properly (don't take your computers to retail chains, they do inadequate work for way too much money)--and I was sick to death of being told I have to do something I believe is unethical and against my moral code, so I took the first opportunity I got to get out of there.
I worked at CVS after Staples, and my conscience felt much better there, not crystal clear, but livable. I left after another 18 months because management changed and I hated working for the sleaze that took over, not to mention corporate had wholly unrealistic expectations for that store, and employees in general. Then I got job as a courier, delivering pharmaceuticals to hospitals and retail pharmacies around the state. It was quite demanding and we were expected to adhere to a strict delivery schedule, but everyone told me it would get easier as I became familiar with my route and the routine for each stop. But it didn't get easier. I got more and more frustrated when I was approached every month about my deliveries taking too long. When asked if I could do anything to move faster, I always answered "no, it's not physically possible to do my stops in the time allotted." I also discovered that some vehicles violated OSHA regulations, and we were told to forego any kind meal break, which is illegal in my state, so when I reported the labor law violation to the state, the Dept. of Labor answered with "what do you expect me to do about it." I was livid and raring to beat the living crap out of the next person that crossed me. Eventually I got a vacation, I went to Australia for 2 weeks, and when I came back and showed up for work, they gave my pharmaceutical route to someone else without any notice, so they gave me another couriering job. Still denied a meal break, I had to eat and drink while driving, which would put me legally at fault if I got in an accident. Sure enough, I was distracted by trying to place a beverage in an awkwardly placed cupholder in the dark, and I rear-ended an SUV. I tried to explain to the court the illegal circumstances my employer put me in, and the Dept. of Labor's unwillingness to do their job of correcting the company's illegal practices, but the judge didn't care, he held me solely liable and fined me $250 for negligent driving. Then I quit the courier job.
By that point, I felt hopeless of ever finding a decent employer that would treat me with respect and give me the kind of work I excelled at. After being jobless for a year and moving back to my parents, I was hired by a contractor to deliver for FedEx Ground. The pay was fantastic, but it was long and hard work, and I was hired primarily for the holiday season, so work dwindled after Christmas and I just resigned.
The following fall, I finally starting taking classes at a local technical college to try to get employers to take me seriously as a computer technician. I was nervous at first, being extremely introverted and having moderate social anxiety, but I acclimated in the 1st week. Another problem I have with school is the way they teach...read a chapter, discuss in class, then take a test; not an effective mode for me, I'm a hands-on learner, I've picked up all my skills by analytically dissecting problems and figuring them out on my own. Granted, some things I never would have learned had I not gone to college, like subnetting TCP/IP networks, but almost everything else I already learned on my own or it's just unnecessary filler. Then I took a PC hardware & software class which utilized an online curriculum by TestOut...what a terrible excuse for learning material. I payed $170 for a digital curriculum that was plagued with poorly phrased, ambiguous questions and multiple choice answers and incorrect, inaccurate, and inconsistent information. The material is so erroneous, it boggles my mind how TestOut.com can legally offer their resources for educational purposes. Then there's the CISCO networking class, which, again, utilizes a digital curriculum offered by CISCO, but I didn't have pay for that one, just the cost of class. The CISCO curriculum is significantly better than what TestOut has to offer, but is not without questionable information. There are many test questions that ask for details that are not included in the reading material, and the instructor can't do anything about it, so I got wrong answers that count against my final grade because CISCO can't be bothered to proof their materials. But the worst part was the arbitrary notebook grade. 15% of my final grade was dependant on my handwritten notes for CISCO's operating system commands, which was ridiculous because we were told to purchase a book which details every command, but we can only use our handwritten notes for exams, which I didn't make. I did better on the written and practical finals than anyone in my class, and I was the only person who didn't use any notes, which proves I learned the material better than anyone else, but I lost 10% of my final grade because I didn't keep the notes that were already in the book I was told to buy but can't use, and didn't even need in the first place, so what should have been a 96% for my final grade ended up being 86%, even though I learned everything I was taught better than anyone else in my class. I argued that the notebook grade is arbitrary and useless, and my argument was always met with "but it's required", to which I asked "Why is it required? What educational merit does it have?", and I never got a reasonable, rational answer, just "it's required". Dissatisfied with my instructor's answer, I took my complaint to the head of the I.T. education dept., and he gave me the same runaround, no one could counter my logic with a reasonable argument, but they wouldn't admit it was wrong or arbitrary either. So the only thing the dept. head could do to keep me in line was mention that he got reports from other instructors about my tendency to "question authority", to question the legitimacy of the institution when the authorities can't, or won't, make the wrong things right.
After all my efforts to keep the moral high ground, and being consistently met with greed and corruption, why do I keep trying? Living with a clear conscience and standing up for justice is the driving force behind my existence, it's the only reason I keep on living. But I'm so tired of fighting for balance, for what I know is right, and being told to suspend my values or I'll never be happy with my life. How can I do something against my better judgement and be happy with it?
This rant went on longer than I expected, but I just want to know if anyone else here feels like you're trapped in a world that doesn't want you here.