Pathways and the Twists and Turns
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

When you hear the word pathways, what thoughts come to mind? Perhaps a well-worn trail through the woods that is easy to follow. Perhaps a less traveled trail that requires you to keep a sharp focus on where you are traveling. Recently, I had the privilege of facilitating a discussion on Pathways to Jobs for young people. The experience not only gave me a new definition of the word pathways but also reminded me of the pathway I followed in my career. My pathway was unusual and less traveled.

As a young person, I struggled in school. Some said I was lazy and didn’t care, and after a while I believed them. While I did graduate on time, I didn’t like school at all. As a 17-year-old soon to graduate from High School, the last thing I wanted was to return to a classroom anytime soon. The pathway I chose was to become a Tool Maker by serving a four-year apprenticeship. Years later, I would come to realize that I had some learning disabilities and that I didn’t learn like many of my classmates.

Upon completion of my apprenticeship, my boss took me to lunch so he could present me with my journeyman’s papers. I was so excited. 8,000 hours of focused work and countless nights of classroom training had been completed. I was finally finished! I was a journeyman tool maker. The strange thing is that when I was handed my certificate, I replied, “Now what?” This was my goal for so long, and now it was achieved. What was the next step? My boss replied with a smile, “You’ll figure it out.” In the next few years, my pathway took some twists and turns. Course work at Onondaga Community College and then more at Syracuse University. Career moves to other companies. Each time working to learn and experience more. Each time wondering what would be around the next turn. Thus far, my pathway has led me to apprentice tool maker, model maker, tool designer, methods engineer, production supervisor, production manager, manufacturing manager, VP of operations, president, and now, leadership trainer and executive coach. Who would have thought that would be possible without spending one dollar of my own money on my education?

Each of us needs to take our own individual pathway. The pathway that works best for us and our unique giftedness. In this week’s episode of The Next Page, I have the privilege of speaking with two local companies who have recently hired new employees and a recent graduate from RIT who was a recipient of a CNY STEM Scholarship award. Please join me for this conversation!

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