56) My Greatest Commitment and Perhaps my Biggest Career Blunder

Welcome new reader!

In the previous post you read about my unrelenting pursuit of a “dream career” based on nothing more than a vision of computer chips I experienced in my sleep sometime in 1984 while living in San Francisco. In this post you read how my new career was beginning to shape-up on my first position with  Micro-Linear, in San Jose, California.

Could interest and  passion overcome lack of ability? I hoped so. My family was depending on me.

Was I Making a Bold Career Move or Just Being Stupid?

In an earlier post you read about my “… Unshakeable  Foundation for Achievement”  which consisted of self-confidence, love for learning and preparation, ease with people and open mindset.

But given the writer’s lousy childhood, and limited natural abilities each one of us are born with, just how far could this little foundation take me in a design engineering laboratory?

Bad Start on my Second Job. Our First House in Minnesota

Nadine, Jenner and I made the trip to Minnesota, and I began my new job at VTC Incorporated in Bloomington. Moving to our suburban 2-story in Brooklyn Park, just up the street from my brother Dean was ideal, since I hadn’t lived around my extended family in about 16 years. I had lived in Brooklyn Park while attending high school, and it had more ethically diverse than it had been in 1968.

Cracks Beginning to Appear  in My Little Foundation

Prior to leaving San Jose, while working at Micro-Linear, my first career position in semiconductor design (IC Layout), I was beginning to see indications that I my career was not going to be everything I imagined it might be. I was not fast in my work and the “drawings” I produced seemed to required great effort. This was confirmed in my job performance evaluations but there was a bigger problem. I was not fitting into the group, socially. Early in my life I was aware that the perception most folks had while spending time with me was that I was detached, overly analytical and warm but easily bored. I had carried that persona with me into my new career, apparently. I was devastated by this bad review, which highlighted my lack of speed in completing the drawings and the perception that with some co-workers, at least, I wasn’t very popular. If you are not good at your job, I concluded, you’d better be popular. I was neither. My performance failure at Micro-Linear was the first I had experienced. I needed a fresh look at my career choice. I hoped VTC Inc. might provide more insights.

My Little Unshakeable Foundation for Achievement – Reviewed

The foundation I had put in place in my personal development had prepared me to begin an intentional  journey to discover my own happiness. The building blocks of my foundation are 1) Self-confidence, 2) interpersonal skills, 3) appreciation for the value of study and preparation and 4) persistence. By no means did my little foundation guarantee happiness. It only provided me with the tools to search.

Since the age of 20 or so, it had been my conviction that leaving Minnesota, raising a family and living the good life in California would bring me happiness. My short career in Silicon Valley and our new plans to return to Minnesota was a clear signal there must be something more to happiness than attainment of goals and achievements.

Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit Technology Corporation – VTC

If working at Micro-Linear was a wake-up call for my career, my work in IC Layout at VTC was like touching an electric fence.

Software, hardware and people were outdated, clunky and rooted in their culture of resistance to change. Since I had lived in California – even though I had grown-up in Minnesota – I was made to feel like an outsider. “Why don’t you take your Honda and move back to California?” a trusted colleague once told me. I worked on the second shift which only accentuated their perception that I was some sort of alien. As the days at VTC passed and turned into months, I began to realize that unless I made a change, I would have to find a different career. Evidence was mounting I had made a bad decision moving back to Minnesota and I began to look for alternatives. My worst realization was that I had made a terrible career choice. One that at the age of 39 and a growing family, was going to be difficult to unravel.

What was your worst career move?

Next: David

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