Most people go into a career with a fairly clear idea of where they are going and what their path will be. They decide by the time they reach adulthood, they prepare for their career, and they go into the field they had planned.
Others start out on one trajectory and then, because of events in a short period of time, find themselves on the rails of a track in a new direction, but they continue on that path for the rest of their career, never looking back.
But some of us have a bit less clarity in our paths. Some of us bounce from vector to vector, trying this trajectory and that, and finding our lives live out like a scatter plot. At first, it looks like it's all over the place, but after a while, you can notice patterns in the things we've done, how this job ties in thematically with that unrelated one, and how a lot of them were really the same job in different clothing, and it wasn't as scattered as it first appeared.
This is my path. It appears spotty and meandering, but if you look at it carefully, you can see what geographic features it avoided and which ones it intersected. Where does the path go from here? Will I do what I'm doing now for the rest of my working days? Only time will tell.
My career path is, for the most part, a collection of things I decided not to do anymore.
My first real job (not counting chores, volunteer work, that job where I was supposed to work as a DMO but never got a straight answer from anyone about which duties were mine, or the commission-based window appointment-setting thing that was practically slave labor) was working at a retail shoe store called the Sport Shoe, in Fort Walton. I worked there in the summer and fall of 1998. I remember setting up the displays, inventorying all the items, learning all the procedures and how footwear is constructed. I helped customers, worked stock for a little while (I was accurate but not fast at that), and became a Footwear Specialist, responsible for learning the technology present in each shoe we stocked. I left there to try to find a job closer to home.
I worked for a tourist trap for about a week as a Kart Jockey. The pay wasn't great, for the drive (actually farther from home than the shoe store), and the workers didn't get much respect. We had to buy our own uniforms, and they expected us to do landscaping in the sun when the track wasn't busy. While I didn't mind being a Kart Jockey, I didn't want to do landscaping, so I quit.
I wrote novels for a while and looked for work without finding anything I felt I could stick with, and in 2000, I went back to college to get my AA. I'd started college straight out of high school, but I'd gotten sick in my second semester and decided after that to try to work instead.
The summer I graduated from the community college, I heard Edward Puslecki speak about the need for native English speakers to teach English in Poland. So, before my diploma arrived in the mail, I was on a plane to go to Ilawa and be the first teacher at a new English language school. You can read a lot more about the 10 months I was there as an individual volunteer in the Poland Section. I also continnued writing novels while there.
When I came back from Poland, I thought I would be asked to speak at many churches, like missionaries I'd heard various places. But I was and am fairly unknown, so I was only asked to speak two or three times. But I didn't start looking for work right away, because I was naively keeping my schedule open for speaking dates. However, because of this, I was free when Isabel hit North Carolina. I wanted to help, so I called MERCI.
Lincoln the DBA
In October, I got on a plane and worked for two months as a short-term IV in the MERCI office. They wanted to build a database to keep track of volunteers and clients, and I knew a thing or two about computers, so I sat down with a book on database software and started building tables and reports for the project. I was software engineer and DBA (Database Administrator). I also helped string some network cables. When I was finished, I caught a ride with someone going past Jacksonville and met family there for Thanksgiving and a return home.
By the first of the year, my mom had decided to spend a semester in Poland, working the same place I had. So, I agreed to take care of her house and finances while she was gone. I paid the bills, mowed the lawn, and generally looked after things. I also continued writing novels.
In the fall of that year, I built another database for an online consignment business, using the same database software I'd used in North Carolina.
In 2005, I decided I needed to go back to college to improve my employment prospects. I thought I would become a public school mathematics teach. I wanted a laptop to do homework (indeed, I would need it for some classes), so I got a job as a cashier at a big box retailer in town. I enjoyed the work and earned enough money to buy a new laptop.
By the time I came back for summer vacation, I had changed my major to Communications with an emphasis in journalism. During the summer of 2006, I did an internship at the local paper, fielding and routing e-mails, proofreading pages before they went to press, and laying out the classified ads. I enjoyed this work, but soon, it was time to return to classes.
In the spring, I returned home and transferred to UWF, and after a year, I joined the campus paper as a copy editor, having decided that reporting was probably not where my talents lay. I worked there for most of the time until I graduated.
By the time I graduated in 2008, I had decided that, while I might enjoy copy editing, the industry was not following its strengths. I was also feeling a call to help churches improve their communications. So, instead of looking for work at a newspaper or magazine, I started my own business, building Web sites for churches and training them how to update their own sites so they wouldn't have to pay anyone to do it.
Although I stayed in this business for two years, I did not get much business. So, in August of 2010, I closed down the business and started looking for work.
Finally, in 2011, I got a job remodeling that big box store I'd worked at before college. I enjoyed the work and impressed the managers enough to be asked to stay on as a Sales Associate in their Electronics department.
I enjoyed this work, also, and I think my colleagues and superiors were pleased with me, but the swings in the schedule were taking a toll on my health. I was not sleeping enough, and I was starting to have more and more trouble keeping my weight up where it should be, so I gave my two-week notice and left. I'd go back tomorrow, if I could get a stable work schedule, but retail being what it is, I don't think that'll ever happen. I know many people in my life thought I was crazy to leave that job, but I didn't see a healthy future there with the way things were going.
Out of work again, I looked back at my life, at the path I'd walked, at the things I'd done at each of my jobs, and I figured out that I'd been happiest when I was teaching and that in most of my jobs, there had been an element of explaining things to people. In addition to the path I've exposed here, I had also done computer troubleshooting and consultation when asked. I love teaching, and that's something I'm good at.
So, I started a business, Lincoln Sayger's Lessons, and began looking for clients.
I believe that life-long learning is important for mental health and continued brain function. You need to be learning something new every year to keep your mind healthy, just as you need to move around to keep your muscles and bones healthy. I teach many subjects, including computer skills, tutoring in academic subjects, crochet, and Chess. Do you, or does someone you know, want to learn something? Drop me a line. I'll be glad to help you.
At the end of July, 2015, I decided (in part because of slow revenue from my instruction business) to start a campaign on Patreon.com, writing articles and making songs, videos, and other works of art. I'm hoping this will eventually provide a stream of steady income large enough that I can do instruction as a volunteer.