My first try at college did not go as planned. The second, third, fourth, and fifth time went even worse. I took a break, flew to England, got mugged, played in a castle and worked nearly every hour of the day. Then one day, I found myself homesick.
“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” – Margaret Mead
When I got home, I quickly discovered that my new work ethic helped me land a job at the Gray Fossil Site & Natural History Museum. It was an incredible opportunity, and everything began to fall into place after two years under their tutelage. I got accepted into the Anthropology department at Pennsylvania State University. In two years of stretching my days and nights, I graduated and set out into the world to be an archaeologist whose exploits could earn a place beside Margaret Mead, Mary Leakey, Dian Fossey, and Jane Goodall. I got a field job with a Cultural Resource and Heritage Management Firm, and for a few months, I was digging holes in the middle of nowhere Texas. I quickly learned that Texas heat means dehydration, sunburns in strange places, red dirt that never washes off, rattlesnakes, and wild hogs that do not want to be my friend. I was miserable, dirty, and done in by shovel test pits.
“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.” – Yogi Berra
As quickly as it had begun, it was over. The company that employed me lost their contract and kicked us all to the curb. Those that had been in the field for a while moved on, and I stood there blinking into the light, sure that I had made the biggest and most expensive mistake in my life.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
After a few days of wallowing in despair, I took a giant leap in a new direction. I applied for a job in the Apple Store. I was incredibly unqualified, but we were out of money and living in someone’s spare room. Computers scared me, I had destroyed every device I had owned, but I had to try. I made it through the first interview, the second, and in the third interview, they hired me!
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” – Steve Jobs
I worked for Apple for a little more than three years, and in that time, they taught me how to survive in a world of technology. They built me up, pushed me to be positive, and to work as part of a team. With their support, my confidence was rebuilt, and I took on a new direction in life. I completed my Masters in Higher Education with a focus in Adult Learning and started working toward a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. I found technology, education, and a newfound respect for people trying to bring technology into their own lives.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
It was a bittersweet moment the day I left Apple, but I knew it was just the beginning of a new adventure. It would be an adventure that would take me through a harsh and unyielding terrain full of surprises, but on the other side, I found I was still pushing forward.
I built AshTech Learning & Design, a technology training and consulting business that makes me proud. I have a splendiferous new job at The Iron Yard helping people find their new life in technology. All, while still working on my Doctorate in Educational Technology at Walden University.