Fresh out of technical school, I went in search of a job. I held a folder with copies of a barren resume in my hand. My work experience included: shoveling gravel, cutting brush at the side of roads and mowing grass in the medium between highways. It wasn't impressive for a young man with a degree in electronic technology.
In my senior year, we had a week-long March break. I hitched a ride to the city of Halifax each day, walked the length of the city carrying a list of possible employers, located them and submitted applications.
I lost fifteen pounds that week. The miles of streets I walked trailed behind me. My resumes were the bread crumbs left in the story of Hansel and Gretel.
Several times I walked pass a business two or three times – building up the nerve to ask for a job. It was the same for Atlantic Television (ATV). I gathered my nerve, stepped through the door and asked the receptionist if I could apply for a job in the engineering department.
"The lead engineer likes to speak personally to each person who applies. If you have time, I'll call Edgar and see if he is free."
"I have the time." My nerves were on edge. "Yes, I'll wait."
Edgar appeared soon after she called him. He led a nervous student to his cluttered office. I could smell the fresh electronic equipment all around us. Edgar asked me a few questions – simple compared to today's interviews – and said he might have a temporary opening coming up. It was to help rewire most of the control room of the television station. "Stay in touch!" he said and gave me his number.
It was the biggest lead of my five-day search, so I took him up on his offer to stay in touch. I called him every two weeks to ask if the job had opened up. "Not yet, Michael, but I think it will soon."
Three weeks later, Edgar called. "Mike, can you start work in May?"
"Yes, I can. My school has an early release program for students who find jobs. I'm ready when you need me."
I got the job and loved working at a television station and the people I worked with.
Edgar told me the job was temporary. He was right. Three months later, the job was complete and I was out the door. A week later, a position opened up in the engineering department of their sister radio station – CJCH.
With the recommendation of my former coworkers, I was hired for that. The atmosphere was different at the radio station, and my pay was half what I made at the television station.
Two weeks later I received a call from a telecommunications company. They wanted to know if I was interested in a position as a telecommunications technician. I’d have to schedule an interview and take a test to rate my knowledge of electronics.
I was very interested. I had a couple friends working with the company and they were happy there. I wanted to be a part of that company.
The interviewer agreed to meet with me after hours to have my interview and to write the test, so I wouldn’t miss time from my job.
On the scheduled day, I left work. I didn’t have a car, didn’t know the bus system well, and had never taken a taxi in my life. I did what I always did, I walked. The wind blew my heavy jacket behind me like a cap and the rain soaked me to the skin.
I sat in Mr. Daupinee’s office dripping water. He asked, “If you get the position, would you be able to move to Moncton, New Brunswick this coming Monday for three months training?”
“Yes. I know it is short notice, but we have openings in the class for four new hires. We had four, but one canceled on us. We have an immediate need.”
“Is there a chance I could start the following Monday? I really want the position, but my current manager is going to be out of town next week. I can’t leave with no one to take care of the station. I don’t want to put my manager in a bad position.”
“It might be possible, Mike. Let’s see how you do on the test.” He took me to a lonely room, handed me the test and left.
An hour later, I handed my completed test to Mr. Dauphinee, thanked him for the opportunity and collected my coat from the testing room. When I looked down, I noticed a puddle of water had collected on the floor under my jacket. I knew then and there that I probably wouldn’t get the job. I wasn’t leaving a good impression. I walked out into the rain and hoped to find a ride home.
Two days later Mr. Dauphinee called. “Michael, you got the job and you can start the training a week late. I spoke to the instructor and he says he’ll go a little slow the first week so they won’t be too far ahead when you start.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Dauphinee.” I couldn’t keep the joy I felt from showing in my voice.
Later I learned I was the only applicant to pass the test. My score was only 57%, but apparently the test was so hard, not many kids coming out of school get a high mark.
Mr. Dauphinee told me, “Mike, I hired you not just because you were the only person to pass the test, but also because you were so determined to get the position that you walked two miles in a heavy rain.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“One more thing stood out. You didn’t want to leave your other job when there would be no one to take care of the station. That tells me you would not do the same to me.”
In two minutes, I learned two valuable lessons: to get a job, you have to show you want it and never leave another position on a bad note. It could come back to haunt you.
Michael T. Smith
Michael lives in Caldwell, Idaho with his wonderful wife Ginny. He writes in his spare time and is completing a collection of his stories to be called, From My Heart to Yours. To read more of his stories, go to: http://ourecho.com/biography-353-Michael-Timothy-Smith.shtml#stories