Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

I Wanted

with 4 comments

I wanted to be a recording engineer. At least, I thought I did, back at the time of my life when I was feeling pressure to pursue an education beyond high school. With no strong drive toward any particular career and no interest in committing money to a general college program, I considered vocational training.dscn5486e My passion was music, but it seemed like a 1-in-a-million long shot to become anything more than a “starving artist” if I started down that path. I landed a full-time job in a record store after high school and mulled over what kind of schooling might suit me best.

With little confidence or drive for the struggle toward making a living off performing or writing, I decided to look into the production side of the business. Brown Institute on Lake Street in Minneapolis was well-known for cranking out broadcasters and disc jockeys back then, and I discovered they also offered AA degrees in Electronic Technology that incorporated a multi-track Studio Recording elective.

Sounded good to me (regardless the fact that was a pun). I dove into the program, quickly discovering the basic electronic curriculum was easy for me to grasp. I had no idea. My impression of the guys who knew electronics was framed by images of NASA flight control engineers with white shirts, pockets of pens, and tape holding their eyeglasses together. I had zero practical experience with wires and transistors. This was unfamiliar territory for me.

Uncharacteristically, I arrived late on the very first day at Brown, interrupting the instructor to walk the length of the classroom with all eyes judging my late arrival and my “not-an-engineer” appearance. Much later, I enjoyed hearing the honest perspective of a significant number of classmates as they admitted to first impressions that I was likely a loser who wouldn’t last the year.

The math and electron physics turned out to be easy for me to grasp and I led the class in test scores. I’d found a good fit. After a year of basic electronics, we were able to choose from a variety of electives. I was there for only one, Studio Recording, and actually considered cutting the program short after I got what I wanted. It only took one presentation from the school to alter my thinking.

They laid out our options, boasting of the 3 potential job possibilities they knew about for local recording studios, and the hundred-or-so opportunities for general Electronic Technicians. On top of that, the starting salary possibilities for Technicians were eye-opening and beyond my expectations.

It changed the course of my future. I did learn to splice tape and clean heads, coil cables, run a huge multi-track sound board and produce a recording session. Massive fun, but like my songwriting and guitar performance, it would ultimately end up playing out as a hobby-level pastime.

I thought I wanted to be a recording engineer, but my pragmatic tendency to choose a course with safer probabilities has paid me back handsomely. Happily, my eventual career path through industrial electronics manufacturing didn’t end up diminishing my love for music one bit.













Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. Your son’s story is remarkably similar when you substitute “Electronic Technician” for “Software Developer”.

    Though I suppose you could also substitute “likely a loser who wouldn’t last the year” with “instantly hailed as the coolest guy on campus”.

    Ok, fine, I guess you could also change “led the class in test scores” to “somehow managed to survive”.


    November 17, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    • I would also add, “and took his music to a whole ‘nother level.”
      I couldn’t be more proud. 🙂


      November 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm

  2. I kept waiting for you to say “and now
    I am a horse farmer.”


    November 17, 2016 at 7:45 am

    • Good point. I guess I’ve been a bit absorbed with the day-job lately (details of which I tend to avoid boring this audience) that I didn’t follow through to that wonderful conclusion.
      Horse farmer and manure compost production manager!


      November 17, 2016 at 7:58 am

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