Dad’s Career Advice From the Trenches

I just got back from a great family vacation to Florida where I shared many laughs with my amazing family. Getting the five of us together for a week is a hoot: we are all very hardworking, loud, opinionated and ambitious. We think it’s totally normal to be this way.

While we were at the pool one day, I asked my Dad to help me come up with some topics to write about. Our conversation offered some great career advice.

My Dad came from humble beginnings. He was one of six children and had been working since he was 9 years old. His summers consisted of getting woken up at 4am to go shovel concrete with his Father without pay, no questions asked, no complaining allowed. He was very shy and struggled academically throughout his childhood, opting for a work-study high school program. In High School he was already working so many hours that he out earned his teachers and therefore couldn’t take high school seriously.

Perhaps my Dad’s story isn’t glamorous, but it sure is entertaining. My Dad was the guy who rode his dirt bike illegally on the streets-sometimes dodging the cops- to see my Mom as a teenager, he got fired for lying about his age so he could work as a dish washer at 13, he put Corvette engines in old cars and sold them for a profit, he jumped rows of garbage cans on his BMX bike, he punched his principal to stick up for a friend, he ran a gas station, and spent many years as a manual laborer. Who knew he would end up where he is today, and have three daughters who are so thirsty for success and education.

My Dad admitted to me that until the last 2 years, he always felt disappointed with what he did for a living. He is the only one in our neighborhood full of accomplished doctors and lawyers who doesn’t have a college degree, and he is the only one that drives a pickup truck, which is parked in the driveway.

He said that he finally realized that you can still make it if you aren’t a doctor or a lawyer, and that it’s not your title or what you do for your money that makes you successful. I asked him what advice he would give to people just starting out in their careers. Here are some of his answers:

• Your twenties are all about learning lessons. In order to learn the lessons, you have to pay attention and watch for them every day.
• Be patient and it will come. Don’t waste time being disappointed with where you are right now: keep working and keep looking ahead.
• Remember that we all have the same amount of time given to us, but it is what we do with our time that will set us apart in the end. Use your time wisely and make the most of it.
• Little things become big things in your job. Although not calling someone back, not being prepared, or forgetting your client’s request may seem small, it could be a huge impact on you and your career down the road.
• Don’t blow your money. You will have nothing to show for all of your hard work and the years will pass you by.

I think my Dad’s career advice is very wise and very applicable to all of us. My Dad earned his education through long hours of hard work. In my opinion, he was very lucky. He was lucky that he was smart enough to see the lessons that most others did not. He knew he would make it somehow, and he took advantage of opportunities that were given to him even if they required more energy, time and sacrifice.

My parents now run a successful drilling equipment business, Rig Source, together which serves a niche market to customers all over the world. If it weren’t his days of coming home with burnt hands from welding or frostbitten feet from drilling in the middle of a cornfield for 16 hours on a January day, I’m not sure he would be where he is today. He is an example of someone who always saw the glass half full, who kept on plugging away, and set his eyes on his goals. Perhaps he is a real life example of “the survival of the fittest.” I’m pretty sure most of us today could not survive working conditions like his and come out on top.

Thanks Dad, for your example of the strongest work ethic I’ve ever seen and for doing what ever you had to do to send us to our college of choice. Thank you for leaving a legacy for our family and for everyone around you to see. You are one in a million and I am so lucky to call you my Dad.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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