Compleat Idler, Education, Writing and diction

Vita Translated

 

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole or in part as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

 

 

What most people call a resume when they send it to a potential employer is what the experts call a curriculum vita. They think of a resume as a one page summary designed to get an employer’s attention. When I would get one of these to look at and realize it was meaningless for my purposes and wonder what edition of What Color is Your Parachute the sender was reading.

I was watching a four hour interview with John Taylor Gatto and he was discussing the resumes colleges and employers look at. By the time I was out college no one but an institution of higher learning cared about a straight A high school career. If an employer looks at it, it gets balanced out by a C+/ B- college record and the assumption is that you did something other than go to class. (An institution of higher learning will note under-performing.)

So now I can translate my old vita for the benefit of prospective employers. NOTE: I exited the official civilian workforce in 2008 so it might be unpatriotic of me to seek a job, but if something interesting presented itself I might go for it anyway and let someone who is a statistic remain so.

College – Bachelor’s in English and Journalism. Translation: The Army would not take me. Because of a tremor related to cervical stenosis and injury to the cerebellum my hand coordination would not permit drafting so engineering was out. I can write better than most English (and journalism) majors—mathematics teaches logic which is helpful in writing. Also, while there was a general expectation that I would gravitate to law or the clergy, I preferred the journalism option because it allowed photography as well. I finished 22 hours in earth sciences which involved field work.

Law school – This was a socially acceptable way to kill 30 months while looking for a reporting job while my wife was finishing her doctoral coursework. I also would have had to spend the first year in grad school on probation (see C+/B- GPA). I also arranged my time so I could make some money shooting freelance. If I had been offered a job I would have left.

At one point I listed every school program I attended and the dates as well as honors and scholarships. In the first job after college, this is good. But, for the most part, employers do not care where you went if you did not get a degree. Your education should be secondary to work history unless you are applying for a post doc. Also, people who spend a lot of time in different schools get the label (at least in my generation) of “loser.”

Work history – pre government. This was basically odd jobs and temporary work. I did develop some skills and the photo gigs continued part time after I was hired by the state as an investigator.

Work history – investigations and administration. Translation: I could not get a job reporting or teaching photography/journalism. Government pays well and has benefits. Until I promoted to administration, I did a brisk and fairly profitable photo business on the side.

Work history – retail. I did the usual retiree thing. I was hired because I had developed skills over the years related to the businesses I worked in—hardware, photo supply and finishing, and outdoor supply.

To get high level teaching or professional work in the fields of my managerial expertise requires a degree in human resources (a law degree and certificate in labor relations does not count), criminal justice administration or public administration—all bogus graduate pursuits. NOTE: 20 years in mid and upper level management positions do not count. NOTE: I am damn good in relating to customers and product knowledge.

Miscellaneous: This is stuff that does not fit on a normal vita but might be explained in a cover letter or interview.

Sports: Too small for football, to short for basketball, to slow for track or baseball. Outside of school I enjoyed golf and tennis, but was not driven. I climbed cliffs—and slid down messing up my clothes. I hunted with bow and arrow. And I learned riflery in military science. In later years I did competitive shooting with handgun. Fishing improved my abilities at prevarication which helped in writing budget justifications—numbers were accurate, but the justification of new programs was, shall we say, more on the creative side.

NOTE: Colleges and some employers look at team sports to find a team player. Richard Branson of Virgin Air, when looking for leaders, looks at individual sports and risk taking. To work for him I should have taken a boat trip up the Orinoco or gone skydiving—neither of these made my bucket list.

Mechanical/building trades: I am certified by the FCC to build and repair transmitters and receivers in frequencies available in the Amateur Radio Service. As a high school student I learned to field strip and maintain numerous weapons, most of which are no longer in active service—this no longer appears in the high school military science program. I also built a vacuum tube superheterodyne receiver and repaired all my grandmother’s radios. In college I learned to process and print black and white photographs and build a pinhole camera. Working summers for my uncle I did set up a production line1, did drywall, roofing and general construction, and learned to maintain and repair GM engines.

As a home owner I have done plumbing, painting, electrical and cement work. I have also built custom furniture. I personally designed and built photographic laboratories and modified photo equipment to accommodate my needs—I did a portrait lighting set up with $10 used strobes and cheap slave units2. This does not include the lean-tos and sheds thrown together by every kid in my area back in the fifties.

NOTE: When I applied to work at Radio Shack in 2002 they were not interested in my Amateur Radio Service license. I am still a competent bench electrician.

Living in the outdoors skills: I have taught land navigation, woods tools, fire building, cooking, shelter building, edible plant identification, tracking etc. I have done much as a scout and on field work and outdoor photography.

Leadership: Classes in leadership are big in business and government. There are even programs and degrees in “leadership studies” in colleges. I am of the opinion that if eight or nine people go out in a wilderness area with just the essentials and survive they will learn more about leadership and teamwork than if they sit in class doing case studies in groups of four. (I have used case study method in teaching.) I did the week long Wood Badge course—they are no longer doing that format. I learned more there about myself, my abilities and my techniques than in all of the seminars I participated in—including TQM 3.

These are the things I picked up being in the situations I happened to drift into. Your own are unique to you. So use them. Your work experience and education (as well as awards and accomplishments) should be in your vita. But if you want to get on the team to build a new community, it would be good to let the employer or client know if you and your twin were raised by a she-wolf after your parents were killed4. Boil the significant stuff into a cover letter or drop it on the interviewer.

NOTE:  As usual, tags are suggestions for further exploration.

Footnotes:

  1. At age 16. My uncle had a ladder factory. I was on vacation and spending time there. He asked me to set up a line to produce the front part of eight, 10 and 12 foot painting ladders. I analyzed the supply flow, where in needed to run the compressed air and where the rest of the ladder was being built. I set up the line and the next step. I ran the line and was producing 10 units an hour.

  2. It worked at the time. I would go to the camera store’s annual sales where they brought out trade ins, stuff that was discontinued, etc. Maybe I should list my scrounging skills. A slave unit attaches to an electronic flash unit to fire simultaneously with the main flash—this has nothing to do with the Thirteenth Amendment.

  3. Total Quality Management. Developed by Walter Shewhart and modified by W Edwards Deming, the statistical process control system is sometimes referred to as TQM. It worked well for the procurement process in WWII, for Western Electric and for Japanese industry during the American Occupation. American Industry, bound by union contracts, has come around. Government agencies adopted the name but, with the exception of the early space program, has “modified” the concept to the point that it has become a means for reinventing the wheel and adding steps to justify more employees. I was prohibited from teaching the process.

  4. Romulus and Remus founded Rome.

 

 

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