Joy At Work

Many of our readers know that we teach Career Advisement to professionals around the country. In one of our classes a few years ago, we encountered a man with a truly interesting career path and a very important life lesson too!


Mike (that’s not his real name) was a veteran. After several years of military service, he returned to civilian life and went to work at a local plant where some of his friends were working.  According to Mike, the job paid pretty well, especially for a guy who didn’t really have a meaningful career goal.  In the world of Career Advisement, that’s called a “bill-paying” job.

After Mike had worked at the plant for about six months, the supervisor called a meeting of the work team.  He told team members that they were doing away with one of the jobs in the plant. It had been posted for awhile with no applicants. Since NOBODY wanted that job, the plant manager decided to “do away” with it. They would “farm out” the essential duties to others on the work team. The supervisor was there to ask for volunteers to take on the essential duties.

No one volunteered — at least, not at first. The supervisor reminded everyone that these duties were actually essential to the operation of the plant. That’s when Mike stepped up. He volunteered to take on the extra duties. The supervisor thanked him, and everyone else breathed a large sigh of relief.

Mike did his job plus those extra duties for about two years. That’s when he was offered a promotion as the supervisor for his work team. Less than four years later, he was promoted to assistant manager for the plant. And then, within three years, the unimaginable took place. Mike became the plant manager. During the time he had worked there, his employer paid him to take management classes. And he used his G.I. Bill benefits to complete his B.A. degree.

The man who took the “bill-paying” job finally had a vision. He had a plan for his career. He would be the best manager he could be and stay with his company until it was time for him to retire. It was a good plan, and his career finally made sense. But Mike was about to learn a new lesson. Not everything in life goes according to plan.

The economy was changing. Jobs were going overseas, and times were getting lean for his industry. Before long, a shocking announcement was made by Mike’s company. His plant was going to be closed. This was a stunning setback for Mike and almost everyone else in the plant too. His resilience was about to be tested like it had never been tested before. And though Mike could not be certain that he was up to the task, he believed he would somehow make it through this. And that he would find a way to help his friends through it all too.

Mike made an appointment at the nearest NCWorks office to get assistance in finding a new job.  The Career Advisement staff there was professional and helpful. They were also very impressed with Mike. His vision, work ethic, and attitude truly made him stand out in a crowd, and before he had completed the process, they offered Mike a job in the Career Center. Not only would he be able to go back to work almost immediately, but he would also be in a position to help others in his community find a new career path.  And as things turned out, Mike was very good at this kind of work. He was a natural!

Mike did it again.  He proved that you can be a success if you put yourself in a position to accomplish something. He also proved that success breeds success — when good things happen to you, they seem to continue to happen if you have the right attitude.


For Mike, this was an “encore career.” It was a second career that gave him joy at work! But then, when a man or woman has joy in their heart, it’s not hard to take that joy to work with you everyday. Mike is one of those people who lives with faith and chooses to find an opportunity in all of the happenstance and circumstance of life.

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