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College 101

Don't be a Cliché If You're Going To Do This
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Here’s the deal, Smarty Pants. Vocational Training is awesome. You can design your own path to a career through Community or Technical College, Internships, Apprenticeships, or even government-sponsored programs that want you so badly they will train you for free.

This awesomeness can turn on you pretty quickly if you let it get out of control. Here are a couple cliché vocational wannabes you wanna steer clear of:

-The Low-Level Peon

Becoming a master of a specific vocation is usually a combination of school or other formal training, on-the-job training, and years of experience and professional development. Somebody has to be the low person on the totem pole, and it will probably be you. Just make sure it’s for a short time. Don’t be satisfied with the lowest-levels of training—keep improving by actively seeking out enrichment opportunities and development. Aim to be the journeyman or master of your craft, not the guy who humps dirt in a wheelbarrow all day long. That will create some serious back problems in your future, not to mention life un-satisfaction.

-The Beer-Bellied Wonder

We’ve all seen this cliché: Construction worker in a denim shirt that can barely contain the huge protrusion above his belt. Does his 8 hours, stops on the way home for a 12-pack of the High Life, and spends the next 16 hours inefficiently working off the calories through a regimen of eating meat, watching sports, and sleeping before doing it all again the next day. Don’t. Just don’t.

-The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Yes, you may have spent the last decade going to school, working with a master, busting your butt to get to the position you have today. You rule. Now, look up every once in a while. Chances are there are lots of opportunities to move—not just up— but sideways. Do you work for a successful construction company? Why not take a business course in the evenings so you can run one of your own someday? Do you see a common need in your plumbing work that doesn’t have a solution? Invent something. Don’t just sit there. Mold might grow.

-The Monster Apprentice

Most Apprenticeships and Internships are arranged, not through some formal program or school, but through personal connections. There’s a good chance your internship or apprenticeship will be set up by your uncle/cousin/neighbor/friend’s boss. They may be able to arrange it because they are high up in the organization. Guess what? That doesn’t make you high up. Don’t name drop, don’t threaten to turn people in, and don’t brag.

-The ”Coffee Guy” (or Gal)

On the flip side, keep in mind that most interns and apprentices start out on the bottom. But you are still there working hard in order to learn. We don’t mean learn where the nearest Starbucks is and who likes their coffee with sugar. Be nice, be open to help, but don’t get taken advantage of. Be sure your boss knows that your time is valuable, and you want to use it to get the skills you need, not get doughnuts for the crew.

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