Never too late to leave a dead end job

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023

By Steve Stricker

June 6, 1944, was D-Day and the Allied invasion of Normandy.  Tuesday, June 6, is also the 188h birthday of my grandson and namesake Stephen III. He graduates high school the same day and will be attending Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, near Cleveland.

How did you get your job/career? Many of you will have followed your mom or dad in their profession.  My mother was a registered nurse, so were my three older sisters.

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One of my brothers-in-law  was a lawyer, and so were his two sons.  One of my other brothers-in-law was a farmer and his son farms with him.

My dad’s dad emigrated from Germany in the late 1800’s and established the Ford and John Deere dealerships in our small town in southern Missouri near the Mississippi River and daddy worked for his dad as parts manager.  Daddy died weeks before I began my freshman year in college – I have his and granddaddy’s mechanical genes…well, some of them.

Natural talents given me by God include being athletic, I was captain of my high school basketball team. I loved to read, but artistic skills to this day are my best natural ability – I can draw or paint to a photo likeness of whatever I look at.  I’m really good, ust don’t use it.

I majored in art at Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) and had a double minor in English and psychology, and later obtained a MAT in art and counseling, a master’s in counseling,  then a doctorate in counseling  at Ole Miss.

With my dad dying suddenly of a heart attack, and being so hurt as I began my freshman year, I kept everyone an arm’s length away and developed this “radar” when meeting someone for the first time. I could instantly analyze them to see if they could hurt me.

It took years to understand that this was my dad’s gift to me as in counseling sessions with college students   I “got” who they were and could help them immediately.

Working at Ole Miss as assistant director of Career Services and teacher in Martindale, students would make an appointment to see me for an hour.  In that hour, by using my mega life experiences and radar, I could help them identify their interests (thus avoiding $20 Strong Interest Inventory) and narrow their job choices.

Most didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do, but definitely knew what they didn’t want to do, so I started there and worked my way up.  I had a firm policy of no parents in my consultations with their students. I quickly learned that they would take over the session and tell me what their student wanted to do, while the student rolled their eyes.

I also taught a career development class where I could go in depth with the job search, interview process and get their resumes developed. We focused on what they wanted to do, not their parents. After class one day a student said that during class she had a profound  gestalt  and was switching her major from marketing to elementary education. I loved this because she was really excited.

Are you doing what you truly, passionately want to do? It’s never too late to follow your dreams and maybe this column, and God, are prompting you to get out of that dead-end job.

Steve is an Army Vietnam Vet, Oxford resident, campus administrator, teacher, counselor, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at