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My life experience and the job market


I joined the army when you still could aged 16 or 15 and 8 months for the PW's and spent a year at IJLB which was an excellent place for turning out keen individuals even if it didn't always make great leaders.
A spell at the Rifle Depot whilst I marked time until old enough to go to Bn in BAOR and off I went.
After a few months aged 18 I signed up for 9. To cut a long story short I PVR'd about 5 years into my 9 and set off for civ div.
I had lied about my college course, I had an interview lined up for it but I wasn't going. I went straight into ground work for a road subbie and started earning money and learning those life lessons the army had shielded me from. Fast forward a few months and I bagged a 6 month trainee installers place with a small local telecoms company. This was the late 80's and building was starting to slow down and even TA pay wasn't enough of a supplement.
I finished my trade training, had a week on paid contract work (price work) and the company shut down. I was paid off and went down to the job centre. Never been here before so I was interviewed and given a number to call and arrange an interview with BR.
Best move I ever made, BR was going through changes and accepting adults from outside was new for them. I bagged a place in Signals and Telecomms (S&T) although Telecomms was by then a separate department we were still known as S&T.
I was told I had a career path to fill and they would keep me in maintenance as thats where they were short. I was told it would be 5 years to become a technician and another 5 to become a senior technician. Just at this point they did away with the seniority rules and everyone had to do the same interview. After my 6 months probation was over I applied and passed the interview for a technician with renewals/minor works. This was under the Maintenance Engineer so I was still working for maintenance. After a few months I managed a job swap with an older chap who wanted off the shifts and started in maintenance and started to get interesting technical courses.
Of course I wanted more money and I couldn't wait 10 years to become a senior tech so after a year I applied for a senior techs post at Victoria. Easy to pass the interview, I really enjoyed the challenge even if the commute was grim at least it was nearly free.
Then John Major got his way and we were sold. I took the money and left thinking that was easy, what next?
After about 6 months shooting pigeons I decided to get a job and started contracting for the big companies through agencies. Some were good, some were blatantly getting kick backs and you could be busy or just ticking over. I moved on and up and eventually was lucky to be offered a role inspecting work in the Midlands. This rapidly became a big job and I went on the books with a consultancy (Former BR unit) as a Resident Engineer.
No one in the civils world understood our black art so I basically wrote my own JD and did what I wanted how I wanted as long as stuff was commissioned on time.
I lasted 3 years abut found the call of my own bed strong, we had just moved and I wanted to see my family and house. I suffered with long commutes to London but had some life back, flying a desk wasn't my cup of tea but I did it really well.
The problem was I never really wanted to work for someone for more than a year or two at the tops. I tried posts on the books but I couldn't deal with the minor petty stuff and when I eventually found that job I wanted I was actually put into the role to do away with it!
typically I should have applied there and then for any job in that firm but no I went through a lean spell, lost 5 stone and nearly my house. In the end I was picked up on a permanent job but I left as the company was again run by corrupt back hander types and I cant do that.
I kept busy on contract work, even going on the tools when I needed but the clock hasn't been kind and now facing 55 soon I am wondering if I can get on the books again for a final stab at the career thing before its too late.
It does seem likely I will be back with a big railway firm soon it will be on the books and I will be a company man.
It sometimes does look rosy outside of the big tent but it often is dog eat dog and nice honest folk dont last!

Joshua Slocum

Book Reviewer
55, you are still young, do you want to work to earn lots of money
or earn enough to enjoy life ?
try something totally different, but one thing i found, as you get older the physical work gets harder so you need to pace yourself, I only work part time now
I'll echo that.

I'm noticibly slower than I used to be in the kitchen, and 11 x 12 hour plus days out of 12 (including 4 x 16 hour days) have just shown me I'm not as young as I used to be, and it's getting harder.


I dont work much now, I think I work harder on the farm as keeper I just spend longer driving to jobs, time for a change
If you're any good at digging holes, I need two doing for fence posts in my back garden. There's a fiver in it for you.
I went through a phase of taking contracts wherever came up first that payed a good whack, it's ok till they start renewing you and a three month contracts suddenly becomes six years

Having friday commutes home of normally 7-10 hours driving took it's toll, normally I earn a little less but work from home except 1 day a month I have to visit the office (which is only a 3 hour round trip anyway)

Life is a trade off, I miss having no responsibilities, never needing to look at my bank statements, living in hotels all week and having someone else do my cooking all the time, but permidom comes with 365 degree appraisals, and endless meetings that seem to have no point except to eat into your productive work time

Still wouldn't swap it, now I can gaze out at mountains and coastline, and not bother ever having to get dressed unless someone Skypes me from work and can largely ignore office politics

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