In October 2012 I was laid off from my job at a commercial printing company. I was 53 years old with a mortgage, and a set of job skills that were no longer needed in a fading industry. My wife suffered a debilitating illness. We had about half a year’s worth of rainy day savings. I needed new skills, I needed them fast and I couldn’t afford to spend the thousands of dollars that training required.
After I filed for unemployment, two lucky breaks came our way. We were able to get a year’s worth of mortgage relief via the Keep Your Home California program and through JobLink I qualified for education funding in the WIA program.
In my job searches I noticed several ads for people with AutoCAD skills. Since SRJC was a short walk from my house and offered AutoCAD classes, I chose Surveying as a major and was once again a college student. One of the required classes for the major was Intro GIS. I had never heard of GIS but it sounded interesting. As my classes progressed, I became fascinated with GIS and switched to GIS as a major.
Two years later I have begun my new career as a CAD and GIS technician for a local surveying company. This is how it’s supposed to work. I have new skills in an industry with a growing, rather than declining future, and if all goes well, we’ll be able to keep our home.
I also need to acknowledge Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act for helping us save $800.00 a month when we needed it, allowing my wife to have the surgery and followup therapy she needed to overcome her ailments, return to work and begin a new career of her own. A former President once remarked that one of the most frightening things he ever heard was, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Easy for him to say, he was wealthy and never needed it. For those of us who have, government help has been a lifesaver.