52) Mortified of Math But Attending (and Succeeding) in Technical School

In my last post you saw how excited I had become about my new career choice in semiconductor design. In this post I hope to give you some idea of the true cost of preparation for this career.

Quitting Omnigistics for Something Better – Maybe

By necessity, I guess, by this point in my life, I had become street savvy. I focused entirely on what it might take to get the training in Integrated Circuit Layout, no matter what, as long as it was legal.

I gave my two-week notice at Omnigistics, selling direct mail sales lead generation systems to business owners and began looking for another sales job where my time was more flexible.

U.S. Alloys – Fremont, CA. – My New Favorite Sales Position

Locating a local company that offered welding equipment and supplies, I interviewed and was hired to resurrect several accounts that had been neglected due to the death of one of the owner’s. Reporting directly to the owner by telephone at the end of each day, I had nearly complete freedom to service the accounts as I pleased. My plan was to finish by 4 or 4:30 PM and drive from San Francisco to San Jose 4 nights per week while selling welding equipment and supplies. This set-up seemed ideal for me to begin the training in IC Layout at Master’s Design and Technical Center.

One-Hour Commute to School

While the prospect of landing a job in semiconductor engineering as a Mask Designer in Silicon Valley offered tremendous excitement for me, starting a new career from scratch is always daunting. And taking out loans from the school to complete the training only increased the stakes. I also had some concerns about my ability to complete the engineering drawings, perform mathematical calculations on the circuits and compete with the other students for a limited number of job openings at graduation, all the while working a full-time sales job in San Francisco and commuting to San Jose each day after work.

Radio talk – Bruce Williams

“Welcome to my world,” Bruce Williams would say. I used to listen to his radio show each night after IC Layout school on my way back to San Francisco from San Jose in 1984. Double-cheeseburger in one hand and steering wheel of my 1978 Plymouth Arrow in the other, I would listen thoughtfully to Bruce as he dispensed financial advice and answered questions on the air.

My Past Catches Up with Me

About two months into the program I came to the realization I wasn’t the sharpest student in my class. I was able to complete the assignments but more slowly than some of the others.

Just married and determined to impress Nadine with a bold career move, had I made another mistake choosing this career?

Next: A Bold Strategy to Land my First New Career Job in Silicon Valley

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