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CAREERS: TRAINING MANUAL | EXAMPLES FROM LIFE / Darrell
Jackson, 39, Los Angeles

Tools of the Trade

May 19, 1997

I was told in high school that you must have a specialized skill to succeed in life. Twenty years later, in 1992, I finally knew how true that statement was. After eight years as a temporary worker in the sandblasting section at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, I had lots of experience handling pipes and fittings, but no job security and no prospects.

Realizing that the only way I could give my family a secure future was to acquire a trade, I decided to become a plumber. My first step was to enroll in a two-year program at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Working and going to school at the same time wasn't easy, but it was worth it--the day I graduated from L.A. Trade-Tech was the day I was laid off from the shipyard.

Before I could start working as a plumber, though, I needed tools and a contractor's license. To get the tools, I applied for and received a Tools for Success scholarship, a program sponsored by Miller Brewing Co. Through this program I received $5,000 worth of plumbing tools. To prepare for my licensing examination, I took a correspondence course from Accelerated Learning Systems, a contractor's licensing school with headquarters in Temecula.

Since I didn't have a regular job, completing this course took almost a year of even greater struggle and sacrifice. Things began to turn around when I got my license two years ago and they've continued to improve since--thanks be to God, my wonderful family and good word-of-mouth advertising.

Now I'm working steadily, I love what I do, and the future looks good. Equally important, my kids have learned how important education is and that they can do anything if they set their mind to it.

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