Guess what? One of my favorite WordPress peeps, The Finicky Cynic, has put out her “June Jour Challenge” once again this year. If you are unfamiliar with the challenge and how I took a stab at it last year, F.C. sends out one prompt each day for 15 days straight and invites her followers and others to formulate a post that fits the topic of the prompt, making sure you ping back to that prompt for credit.
I first took a stab at F.C’s writing challenges last year and it really, really got my writing juices flowing. I dare say that my responses were a real turning point for my blog, for not only did they inspire me to write a lot, they allowed me to become more expressive. They even inspired me to challenge myself in writing about different subjects in different forms, whether they be poetry or pseudo-conversations or prompts from other sources.
Since challenging myself to write tends to make things a little exciting on here — and hopefully gets you to read and learn more about this guy in a dress — I will take a stab at June Jour 2016. I do not expect to fulfill each challenge for 15 days straight, what with my busy personal schedule coming up (this coming weekend especially). However, just like last year, I will take a real stab at this. It’s just that my 15-post pace will be a little bit leisurely compared to last year (there’s a whole month of June ahead of me after all).
But it’s not just time and schedule that could lead to that leisurely pace. There’s also the factor of how much the prompts’ subject matter will make me think. To wit, the first prompt F.C. sent out:
College – most of us have been there (or will be) at some point in our lives. What were your best/worst memories from it? If you could return, would you? For those of you who have yet to go to college, what are your expectations of it?
I gotta hand it to you, F.C., you’re really leading off with a good topic. At least she lets the responding posters alter the subject matter to fit what they want to express and are comfortable to be expressing. That’s allowed me to include the words “higher education” in this post’s title instead of “college.” Not all of us go down the same path after high school, and for me, those immediate 12 months after graduating high school was spent preparing for and trying to master… well, I will say it was not college, but I will say it was an entity that has lots of discipline in its nature and can be very hard to master — and after 4 of the hardest, most grueling months of my life, I couldn’t master it.
But did I enter college right after that? Well, not immediately. Matter of fact, I didn’t go into formal technical college training until a few years later. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get formal education before then. And with that, I’ll let you on a little secret I’ve never told on here yet, though I’m not ashamed to tell you about it: Male Mode Me has training through Job Corps on my resume. For those unfamiliar, Job Corps is a program that the U.S. Department of Labor that offers educational and vocational training in a campus setting at no cost to youth and young adults ages 16-24. Signing up for Job Corps was heavily suggested to me by my mother and aunt after they heard about it. Let’s just say they didn’t want their 19-year-old son and nephew sitting on the couch at home any longer than he needed to. So, I signed up for Job Corps and received training in the wonderful, amazing world of… wait for it… office administration. Yeah, it’s not being a cook or a phlebotomist or a facilities maintenance worker, but I figure I was more adept at typing and filing and computer work than either of those professions.
Was I a success at it? Well, you could say I was. You could also say the combination of my success at it and my general lack of maturity at the time led me to thinking I could leap out of Job Corps after completing the program and right into the perfect job I was well trained and well suited for. Yeah, that didn’t plan out as I had hoped for. I imagine some of you had those same expectations of landing that perfect job right after you graduated. But my overconfidence met with the cold, hard reality of nobody wanting my skills. Which meant sitting on my mom’s couch a little more. Which would lead to leaving home behind to move to Green Bay, which is where my sister was living, working, and going to school, as well as the nearest major city where the real jobs were. Which led to working a few odd jobs before finally having enough financial assistance — and enough confidence — to get into further technical college training that was more formal and detailed than what I received at Job Corps. Which led to graduation and my current career.
You may be thinking at this point if I regret entering Job Corps in the first place. I don’t regret that at all, although I do regret letting my naivete, my overoptimism, and, to a lesser extent, my narrow focus in career plans get me to thinking I didn’t need any further training after Job Corps. (My longing for home had a part in it as well; I came from Northeast Wisconsin, but the Job Corps training that applied to me was in Minneapolis/St. Paul.) But my time with Job Corps did fill my mental scrapbook with a few nice memories and feelings, one of which is the key part of Job Corps — the hands-on vocational training and work experience.
It was this hands-on actual work experience through Job Corps that produced my most favorite higher education memory. Part of the program included 6 weeks of in an actual off-campus business. And even though I’m too proud to be a name dropper, I’ll let you know it was at a local office of Hewlett-Packard. Yes, the Hewlett-Packard. They had a regional office in the Saint Paul area that included a credit team that handled accounts receivable (i.e. checking if the customers they did business with had a good credit and payment history). It was in that small team (about 6 members plus a manager) that I helped out on stuff like clerical and word processing duties. It may not sound like a big hill of beans to you, but having that chance to work in a real world office — and working alongside people who I didn’t know a lot about yet still were welcoming and supportive of this eager-to-please novice. After I had mentioned in passing that my 20th birthday fell during my second week with their team, they even threw me an impromptu potluck, it was mostly chips and cookies and other not-so-nutritious edibles, but it was the thought that counts.
I truly appreciated the 6 weeks I spent with that close-knit team at Hewlett-Packard. It made me a little bit sad that it wasn’t longer. It also made me sad that I fell out of touch with them after that. There was no LinkedIn or other social media back then, and just applying for a permanent spot with them right then and there was out of the question. I do wonder how their lives and careers turned out. I know one person on the team had just married (she and her husband had a simple wedding ceremony in their backyard); I know another person was madly in love with her fiance, though they didn’t set a wedding date. I do know that all of them were quite the professionals, and it influenced on me the importance of being and acting professional while at work. It’s a belief that Male Mode Me has held on to dearly to this day.
To touch on another part of F.C’s prompt, I would probably go back and do that very same higher education thing if I could borrow Erica Strange’s time-traveling abilities. I would try to do the Job Corps thing the same way as before… with one exception: I would definitely listen to the advice the teachers and counselors gave me back then, that being to really consider going beyond the boost Job Corps gave me and take advantage of further educational opportunities they provided directly or indirectly. It would likely have changed my lot in life had I did.