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Forced onto a career crossroad…30 Mar 2008 10:23 am

dsc_0006.JPGWe all like to think we’re the navigators of our career destinies but too often that is not the case.

Many of us end up in jobs we really don’t love, punching in everyday because we need the paycheck to pay the mortgage, rent, college tuition, car payments, etc.

It’s a fact of life. Sometimes we work to sustain our families, our lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with sacrifices we make to make sure our children have what they need to be able to go out and embark on their own lives.

I know you hear a lot of career ideologies these days that espouse brushing everything aside and doing our dream jobs no matter what.

I’m not in this career camp. While I think people should follow their dreams and try to pursue what makes them happy sometimes reality slams us hard in the face. “Being happy” has to take a back seat to income realities.

You may work a minimum wage job you hate because you’re paying for an online degree to better yourself. Or you may have to work for a parent who needs you to help them keep their business afloat. There are so many of these scenarios.

I met an incredible man recently who has his own scenario. His name is Chuck Madarani and he’s an autoworker who lives in Newark, Delaware.

He’s one of those guys who sacrificed a lot for the good of his family. He never envisioned he’d end up an autoworker as his lifetime career, but at age 47 he realizes it’s his lot in life.

He is not ashamed of what he ended up doing. His family was provided for, and this September he’ll have two children in college. My eyes well up when I think about how proud he is of his children.

Chuck is the focus of my “Your Career” column this week on MSNBC.com. He was one of those subjects that every journalist longs for — I candid man who’s willing to admit he’s not a perfect human being.

He is at a career crossroads, but not one of his making. The Chrysler auto plant where he’s worked for decades is slated to shut down next year and he’s still not sure what he’s going to do.

Without a college degree or experience beyond factory life, he’s not sure he can find another job in Delaware. That means he may have to relocate to Detroit where he probably could get another auto job. But with two kids enrolled at a Delaware college the move would be painful for his wife and children.

But the bottom line for Chuck is a good paycheck, and that’s what he’ll be able to hold on to if he stays in the auto industry.

His is the kind of job that is disappearing in our country for people like Chuck — $50,000 a year, plus solid health benefits.

I don’t blame him for not wanting to let it go, especially given the money he’ll be spending on college; and with the tough economy that will make it even harder for him to find comparable paying work.

He’s probably not going to retrain and try to find another career. He’s probably not going to hire a life coach to help him find a make-me-happy career road map.

He’s going to do what he has to for him family. No one can fault him for that.

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Internships: Punishment or benefit…23 Mar 2008 09:00 am
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Is there any place for workers to run to in this economy…20 Mar 2008 08:19 am
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Women need to stop taking salary issues personally…19 Mar 2008 09:05 am
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Teaming up with WomenCo.com…18 Mar 2008 10:43 am
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The future of financial jobs is one big question mark…18 Mar 2008 09:05 am
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Put down your PDA…17 Mar 2008 08:53 am
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Non-paying customers aren’t totally LinkedIn…14 Mar 2008 09:23 am
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Beware work-at-home schemes…13 Mar 2008 05:41 pm
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Beware of LinkedIn issues (Two faces of Eve)…12 Mar 2008 09:13 am
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