Blog #733 My First Real Job

My first job

(I am in a series of reflections about my first job, coaching, waving, setting my standards for my life.  I graduated from college 50 years ago and started my first teaching position also 50 years ago.)

I enjoyed college.  No, let me change that:  I ENJOYED COLLEGE!!!! WOOOO!!!  

I guess I was the proverbial “Big Man on Campus”.  But, more on that later in this series.

I was naive.  I thought I would just stay in college and get my master’s degree.  I even looked at Northwestern University in the Chicago area for a master’s in math.  But at the end of my senior year came, I decided I needed more money if I was going on for a master’s degree.

So, in the era before the internet, I went to my college placement office and sign-up.  The placement office had four duplicated lists: two for job seekers and two for potential employers.  I wrote up a brief introduction that was then put into the list for potential teaching employees. (Their two lists for employers were teaching positions (me), and non-teaching positions.).  These lists had a brief description of the graduating students, their major and other information.

For the graduating student, the lists were similar but were flipped.  The list I got was for schools looking for teachers (and the other list that I didn’t get was for companies looking for employees).  

I hadn’t really thought too much about where I wanted to teach, and other than teaching math had no real issues to think about.

From the list that went out to schools indicating students looking for teaching jobs, at least one school found my name and called the placement office to find out about me.  That school was West Grant Schools located in Patch Grove Wisconsin. If that had been today, I would have looked to find where Patch Grove Wisconsin was (Google Maps). I had positive thoughts about Wisconsin.  I viewed Wisconsin as a nice state. I remember the rolling hills along the Mississippi.  

So, John Gehn from West Grant Schools called the Winona State placement office, the placement office worked with both of us to find a joint time for a phone interview.  While phone interviews still abound, the whole mechanism was different. There were, of course, no cell phones. Local calls were generally free, but long distance calls could be expensive.  My parents had basically said “no long distance calls”. But the placement office did the behind the scenes work and at the scheduled time, I was in the placement office to get the phone call from John Gehn, the superintendent of the West Grant Schools.  (By-the-way, John and I are Facebook friends – at age 22, I was in awe of my superintendent!!!)

John described the position to me.  The ‘now’ me might have said ‘no’ – but I didn’t have any experience.  I would have seven classes, a study hall and a preparation period. He then described that the position also needed to have a person to coach.  Could I coach basketball and baseball? Sure I could (so my naive mind said).  

I never had the standard “Theory of coaching <sport>” class – nor the very needed “Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries.  I had played a little basketball (not much, wasn’t on the high school team), and had coached little league baseball – so hey – I could do it!!!  After all, you have practice for a while, then start playing games!!

So, on that phone call, John offered me the job and I accepted.  I’m sure I was thinking “Gee this getting a job is pretty easy – one phone call and one job offer!!!  I think my annual salary was about $6,500 a year. (coaching was about $150 a sport). I was going to be rich!!!

So, that started my teaching career.  I was at West Grant for two years – teaching and coaching (more on that later) and then went back to get my masters.  And, I was still very naive – but I was learning on the job!!!!

So, how about you?  What was your first ‘real’ job?  Did you like it? Would you do it again?  How did you get hired?  

Continuing tomorrow!!!


Posted by Bruce White

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