I think I should be by now.
It’s been over a year since I’ve was relieved of duty to the United States Air Force. I’ve been told not to call it a retirement because that implies that I no longer need to work. For a select group of retirees, that is not the case. I had about three months to relax before I found out that my wife was pregnant, which meant I could no longer sit on my ass anymore. I had to go find some work, and until recently, I had trouble finding it.
Was it because I was a veteran? Not according to the latest official numbers. Was it because of my age? Also, not according to current official stats. So why then did I have trouble getting a job? I don’t know, but I can speculate.
After some time and self-reflection, I’ve identified three things that may have contributed to my unemployment:
- My well-intended but ill-conceived choice to change careers from manager to public relations/journalism/writing
- My foolish and detrimental aversion towards becoming a manager
- My misguided and ultimately self-defeating approach to seeking opportunities for employment
Yup, I wanted to be a writer. It’s why I have this blog. But, I wanted to make money from it. Oh silly me.
Now, I’m not knocking it as a career. In fact I’d love to have it as a career. And technically, it’s not off the table. But it is obscured from my view, tucked squarely behind my shelves of parental responsibilities, educational obligations and reality checks.
As for the whole manager bit, well, it’s less of an aversion and more of a reluctance. I can do it. I just won’t if I don’t have to. Call it 10+ years as a glorified baby sitter/secretary/punching bag. Like my ‘retirement,’ I’m kinda over that, but I still get nightmares sometimes.
And how did I self-sabotage my job search? One, by turning a modest but respectable student assistant job here in the local area because . . . I wanted to be a writer instead (see above). And two, getting all dressed up and ready to go to some job fairs only to give in to fear, tuck tail and run.
But, that was until recently.
I need to pay more attention to the full Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) services the VA offers me because, if I had, I would have taken advantage of the VA Work Study Program waaaaaay earlier. Under this program, I can do what’s called a Non-paid Work Experience initiative where participants (mostly other VA offices, but can include other government agencies) take eligible veterans in and provides them with training and practical job experience. I thought the ‘non-paid’ part meant free labor, which it was, for the employer. But you do get compensation from Voc Rehab, which is technically minimum wage, but it’s better than nothing. But, in my opinion, the best part isn’t the on-the-job training (although that is a huge part), but the network and connections that you develop within that office.
Anyway, better late than never. I’m doing this now. I haven’t yet started so I don’t have a clue as to how successful it is. But perhaps in the coming weeks once I’ve done this awhile, I’ll chime in.
Until then, it’s schoolin’ and changing my kids diapers.