How Retraining in IT Saved My Marriage, My Sanity, and My Life
Laid off and looking for your next opportunity? Thinking about a career change? We at RemoteMode are passionate about launching people into their best future. Retraining for new skills is the key to pivoting into a better life. One of our team members recently related his experience with retraining and how it set him on the trajectory to improve not just his job, but every aspect of his life. Thanks to a computer programming course, he left his minimum-wage job in a tiny print shot to eventually become a project manager supervising a team of forty professionals and bringing home a sweet paycheck. Listen to him tell his story in his own words:
How in the world did I wind up in such a mess? I was a 27-year-old college graduate with a wife and a new-born baby, working a dead-end job, and living in government-subsidized housing in Southern California. I commuted nearly an hour each way every day to my barely-above-minimum-wage job in a tiny print shop in a warehouse district. My wife and I were in family counseling, trying to keep it together as we learned how to cope with a baby, debts, and not enough money to pay rent and buy food in the same month. My mother-in-law slipped us $20 every couple weeks to make sure her first granddaughter had formula and diapers.
I had received a traditional four-year Bachelor Degree from a respected university. I even had worked at my dream job—until it turned into a nightmare. I had my own classroom full of wide-eyed fifth-graders in one of the largest school districts in the Los Angeles basin. To my dismay, I quickly learned that running my own class was not at all like my student teaching experience in college. My classroom was a disaster, the kids out of control, the state and district mandates untenable, and the emotional pressure on me was taking a toll on my marriage and my emotional health.
When it became evident that my teaching career was about to end before it really got started, I told my principal to find a permanent substitute, and I hit the streets. With the pressure on to bring home a paycheck, I quickly found a job using the skills I had picked up in my on-campus part-time student employment—running a printing press. So much for the American dream.
I was barely scraping by, with no prospects for improvement, when my brother-in-law told me about a technical school he had started attending to learn computer programming. When he described what he was learning, I was intrigued. I was a logical thinker. I was certainly not a people person—my short time in the classroom proved that. As a programmer, I didn’t have to deal with people, just machines. And I could easily triple my salary right out of the gate.
My wife was supportive (frantic is actually a better description), and the therapist said I should go for it. I turned in my application, went for an interview, signed the papers, applied for a student loan, and jumped in with both feet. Now, this was in the days before online training or even the internet. I had to drive another hour from my print shop job to the brick-n-mortar school in downtown LA three nights a week, sit through three hours of classroom instruction and labs, and then drive another hour to get home. Oh, and did I mention the homework? It was a daunting undertaking.
At the end of my first week in class, however, I was hooked! Finally in my element, surrounded by introverted geeks and nerds just like me, I fell in love with coding. Eleven months and five hundred hours later, I received my certificate in computer programming. I had already interviewed at two companies before graduation, and the day I got my certificate, I got a job offer.
That was many years ago—a lifetime ago in every respect. Retraining in the IT sector dramatically changed the trajectory of my career. I rose through the ranks as I gained experience and additional skills. I worked for large companies that were willing to invest in my future, providing training in both technical and soft skills, even paying for a postgraduate degree at a top university. I eventually left the corporate world to become a project manager in a non-profit organization that made a difference in the world and in the lives of people. I had a fabulous career that paid me five times more than my teaching gig could ever match, and I didn’t have to get ink under my fingernails every day.
My wife and I stayed married, had a couple more kids, bought our first home, upgraded a couple times, and now live in our forever-home in a beautiful neighborhood. She was able to quit work and be a stay-at-home mom while our kids were in school. I now work from home with zero commute and time to enjoy my grandchildren. My wife slips our married kids twenty bucks every once in a while, just to make sure everything is copacetic.
Is retraining the answer for everyone in this currently crazy world of pandemics, business shutdowns, and social distancing? No. But I’m a believer. Retraining put me into not just a better career, but a better life. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. And with today’s technology of online training programs, self-paced courses, and remote work opportunities after graduation, my heart couldn’t beat fast enough to get me to go again. Training in a high-demand, high-paying field with stability, benefits, and perqs changed my life in every way—rescued my marriage, saved my sanity, and set me up for my true dream job—a dream that came true.
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