Achieving Goals without College

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In this day and age, the push for a college education is talked about before even completing middle school.  But how about those people who can’t afford to go to college or choose not to go?  Can they make it ahead in the job force?


My father had an excellent work ethic.  He started out as a bricklayer and ended up as the Fire Inspector in the City of Altoona Fire Department.  He didn’t have a college education. He went to classes and seminars that were optional in the department, sometimes paying for them out of his own pocket.  He read material on the subject of arson and fires. He knew what he wanted and went after it and passed that same determination to me and my sisters.  We were brought up to give a day’s work for a day’s pay and nothing less.


Of the jobs I have had in my work career, I always started at the bottom and worked my way to the top. I have worked in a pet shop as a clerk and ended up a manager.  I worked in a laundromat, hand ironing 60 shirts in an hour, working the counter and ended up managing the laundromat after a year.  I started in the floral shop as a part time plant caretaker and floor sweeper and ended up being a floral designer and shop manager.  How did I accomplish these promotions without benefits of a degree?


When I started my jobs, I always asked questions and tried to learn as much as I could about what I was doing at the time.  I also asked questions about how the business worked.  If I saw there was something I could do to make my boss’s job easier, I offered.  I learned how to unpack and catalog merchandise, I learned how to make schedules, and I solved customers’ problems and answered their questions.  If I didn’t know the answer, I found out.  I showed up on time, rarely called off sick and always came in to cover someone else if I was needed.  I was dependable, reliable and dedicated; three very important qualities to have to get ahead.


As in the case of the floral shop, I started out working ten hours a week.  I watered the plants, picked off the dead leaves and swept the floor.  Then I learned how to unpack merchandise and check the packing list. I learned how to order the plants, what type and how many.  I was made a salesclerk and taught how to answer the phone, ring up the customers and answer their questions.  But I had my eye on the floral designer job although I didn’t know a thing about it.  I watched the owner/designer as much as I could and asked questions.  When we were slow, I offered to help in any way I could.  Soon I was cutting floral foam and greening baskets.  She showed me how to do simple arrangements. I caught on quickly and I was moved back to the design room.  I went to seminars and flower shows and studied books on the subject.  After two years, I was managing the floral shop and doing most of the arrangements.


I believe that if you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything, with or without a college education, it’s all in you!


If you’ve accomplished your goals, I’d like to hear about it.



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