What’s up with this an engineer dude (me) talking about career choices?

 The popular choices aren’t always the best choices taking everything into consideration, but if you really WANT a certain career, don’t give it up.

I chose broadcasting and specifically radio basically before I was a teenager.  I don’t know how much I really wanted it at the time, but it was all I really cared about.

A 6th grade Science teacher in Detroit Public Schools wrote to me:  “You will make a fine scientist.” I would never have been prepared for the amount of education becoming a scientist would require.  Besides, I didn’t really want to be some geeky guy who did nothing but work in labs all day.

At an early age, I became fascinated with tape recorders and anything that played music.

That obviously leads one into the logical path of what DJ’s do.  Along the way, I assembled enough scraps of equipment to make my own DJ tapes, and eventually to actually “broadcast” on radios throughout the house.  The technical aspect of that, however, was always a means to an end – at least to me back then.  

At the time, AM radio was the most listened-to form.  FM was reserved for classical and “beautiful” music and educational purposes.  So I taught MYSELF everything one could possibly need to know about AM radio.

Eventually, I actually got paid to work at various AM radio stations.  I was in my early 20s.   At one point I remember thinking “THIS is what I want to do.  If I don’t have any other job for the rest of my life, I will be satisfied.”  I actually left college to pursue this life and never looked back.

I was also helping the Chief Engineer repair cart machines and we even installed new consoles. My main job, however, was cutting commercials and hosting a daily show.  I should have known then the on-air job wouldn’t last forever.  I thought fixing stuff was just something I did so I could actually broadcast (and make a few extra bucks).  As it turns out, it would become a lot more important skill than I could have ever imagined.

The story of my life got really twisted after that.  There were some tough times that I had to endure, as well as some incredibly great times.  But I never lost the notion that I was a “Radio Guy.” 

I never went back to college and had no desire to.  No one could teach me what I wanted to know. I do admire people who have the patience and fortitude to pursue college degrees, but it was never for me.  Maybe it is for you, and if so, go for it.

At Specs Howard, the school is filled with people who live and breathe a lot of the same notions I do.  We’ve all “been there” with that dream job and know what it takes first hand to “get there.”  Not everyone will make it.  Those that do will share that same burning desire – that zest – to succeed at what they love doing.

Lesson learned from all this (I guess) if you want something bad enough, focus on it and don’t let go of it.  If all you can think of is excuses why you CAN’T pursue your dream, then you really don’t want it that bad.

-Bob Burnham

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