Alternative Path

I have often ruminated that young men need to evaluate their career choices very carefully before picking the one they think will work best for them.

Increasingly, it’s become apparent that going to college is not a worthwhile option for them — unless they want to be hounded, harassed and vilified just for the “crime” of being a man, that is.  (10,000 instances of false accusations, man-hating professors and the courses they teach have been omitted on grounds of brevity.)

Now, we’ve seen in other spheres what men do when they feel that the game rules are loaded against them, or that participation leads not only to inevitable failure, but even to a compromised future.  The dating game is one such activity, where men have either deliberately turned the rules of the game against women and used them to their own benefit — or have simply eschewed all participation in the face of assured failure (going their own way — MGTOW) and simply created a parallel life outside the game.

I’m suggesting an alternative to the career game.

Don’t go to college, at least until the rotten system has collapsed under the weight of its own prejudice and misogyny misandry, and been replaced with a better deal.  Ignore the vested interests of people and institutions who preach the lie that you can only be successful with a college degree.

If you’re super-smart and driven like Michael Dell or Bill Gates, of course, you don’t need to be told this.  But only a very few men, in any  activity, are in that rare 0.00001% of super-achievers.

But for the vast remainder, there is an option:  work in industries where the vast majority of women can’t or won’t participate.  I’m talking about the heavy, dirty and sometimes thankless jobs (Mike Rowe-type Dirty Jobs) which not only don’t require a college degree, but where a college degree might even be a hindrance and not a qualifier.

Just last week I came across a guy who was an oil field worker.  He’d fled from Venezuela right after that thug Hugo Chávez came to power, and in the eighteen years since had worked his way up the ladder, in oilfields all over the world.  Now, at age 45, he’d finally reached the point where he didn’t have to work  the oil rigs, just visit them and see how things were going.  Along the way he’d acquired a wife, two preteen kids, and a $750k house in Plano where I picked him up to take him to the airport.  He’d completely lost his Hispanic accent (when he left Venezuela he couldn’t speak a word of English) and was also fluent in Arabic and (ahem) German.  When I asked him if he had a university degree he just laughed and said, “What for?”

What for, indeed.

Here’s the point.  I know it’s going to be difficult for Millennials and their successors to handle this, but working dirty jobs is hard.  It requires dedication, stubbornness and of course a willingness to get one’s hands dirty, and sadly, because of the education industry’s indoctrination of kids, this choice is often dismissed or demeaned.

It shouldn’t be.  If you weigh the eventual benefits of dirty work — where, by the way, your exposure to militant feminism is going to be minimal to nonexistent — against a useless degree coupled with crippling debt, this should not be a difficult decision.

Is this risky?  Not as much as you’d think.  Just the other day, our local community college broke ground on a campus which apparently is going to be dedicated almost exclusively to the “hard” careers — automotive service and repair, construction, welding, plumbing, electrical work, manufacturing and so on — but I’m not going to suggest you look to such an institution for your education / training;  what’s important is simply to realize that for such an event to have taken place, there must be a crippling shortage of young men willing to get into those fields, and this is the Establishment’s attempt to address it.  (It’s complete bollocks, of course — you’d do better by getting an apprenticeship at a real place of work.)

So, in the paraphrased words of Ayn Rand, go “Galt” and make your own way in the world.  You may not succeed, of course, but remember that failure is equally (or, in these times, more) likely with a freshly-printed college diploma clutched in your hand.

Become a watchmaker, if you’re mechanically inclined.  Work in construction, if you’re strong in body.  Get an apprenticeship in a trade, preferably an ugly, dirty and tough one where just by virtue of being a man you face no competition from women.  I guarantee you, there’s a tough job out there for any man if he’s prepared to go for it.  And if your first one (or several) choices don’t work out, find another one that does.

Let women take over non-jobs like human resources, clerical jobs at the DMV, cubicle management, bank tellers or benefits administration at Global MegaCorp Inc., and laugh as the life force is drained from them.

Here’s the challenge:  be a man.  Not today’s version of “male” figures who argue over craft beers and fashion accessories.  I’m talking about real  men, who do things for themselves, push aside barriers with confidence and, eventually, end up with women (like my friend Raul, above) who appreciate them for their qualities and for the security and families they can provide.

When I asked Raul if his wife worked, he looked at me in puzzlement and said, “What for?”

If this guy taught a class, he’d create a generation of achievers.  He would never do such a thing, of course, although he would (and does) train other men to succeed as he has.

Now get out there and make something of your life that does not include words like “curriculum”, “term paper” and “Diversity Studies”.  You’ll be a world better for it.


Postscript:  there was a time when enlisting in our nation’s Armed Forces would have been a viable career choice for a young man.  Not today, unless you try out for Special Forces, SEALs or similar.

18 comments

  1. at least until the rotten system has collapsed under the weight of its own prejudice and misogyny and been replaced with a better deal. Ignore the vested interests of people and institutions who preach the lie that you can only be successful with a college degree.

    I think you meant misandry, not misogyny, in the above paragraph. Misogyny is what we’d be accused of.

    Other than that, spot on. Were I a young man today I’d think seriously about a skilled trade instead of a college (although I’d submit to you that Computer Programmer IS a skilled job, at least as I was taught to do it over three decades ago, and it was also a time when women in the field were few and far between). There’s SOME rationale for going to college if you’re interested in one of the STEM fields, but a lot of that could be handled thru apprenticeships and such too.

    One barrier to entry for the millennials getting into the types of jobs you suggest is that most young people (especially young men) just aren’t HANDY. They were likely raised by a single mother, so didn’t have a father to show them how to fix a flat tire on their bikes, or have them help with an oil change, or whatever home/car/whatever maintenance tasks came up. We have a couple generations of people who’ll take their car to the mechanic for a burned-out tail light bulb for cryin’ out loud. It’s hard to succeed in such jobs when you don’t just KNOW which way to turn a screw without saying “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” to yourself. Sure it can be learned, but it sticks better if you learn it at age ten instead of twenty.

    Hell, when I was about ten my friends and I found an old bike someone had put out for the garbage, we grabbed it and spent the afternoon taking it apart and putting it back together, figuring out how things worked as we went. Mom, for the record, was NOT pleased with all the grease on my clothes, but she understood that (trigger warning!) boys will be boys.

    1. most young people (especially young men) just aren’t HANDY.

      I recently talked to several mechanical engineers at my place of employment (I’m ChemE, btw). It’s my opinion that absolutely none of them would be able to change the spark plug on a lawn mower. And these are the people responsible for PM programs and maintenance plans on millions of dollars of equipment in the plant. You’re right, the newest generation just ain’t very handy.

      1. To be quite fair, they never had much chance to learn. No shop classes in school, their fathers not willing to teach them…if their fathers knew much about it. We’re entering second-generation un-handiness.

    2. Don’t forget those of us who aren’t handy because our Dads, who were handy, couldn’t be bothered to pass down those important skills. While I can do very basic handyman type stuff, anything that isn’t painfully obvious is something I still need to learn. Why? Because any time I joined my Dad in his garage, there wasn’t any patience to teach me (which is odd for an math teacher turned principal) nor any real belief that I had the smarts to learn (I work now as a software engineer).

      Thankfully my father in law has been willing to teach as issues arise.

    3. Good thing we have YouTube now, where subject matter experts happily teach you how to do stuff.

  2. (It’s complete bollocks, of course — you’d do better by getting an apprenticeship at a real place of work.)

    As someone who’s worked for over 30 years in the chemical production industry, I can say there’s not much of an apprenticeship program anymore. Most places won’t hire a newby unless you have a certificate from one of those local junior colleges. Usually a 2 yr program, very affordable, and many times offered as night classes for the guy still working a day job. Then you get the into an apprentice position.

    They are essentially using the jr. college certificate program to weed out the slackers who would only waste time in any sort of apprentice program. Given today’s millenials, not a bad idea.

    Also, your example is a little too “pie in the sky”. Not everyone makes it into a management position. A better example, used by myself on my own children, is that a equipment technician, or an electrician, plumber, welder, pipe fitter, etc. can live a nice middle class lifestyle if he minds his P’s and Q’s, doesn’t mind driving used vehicles, and has a wife that can uphold her end of the marriage. There may not be many management opportunities, but you can be a field worker your entire career and still retire with a nice pension. You’ll never have trouble finding a job, and it’d be a job you can respect.

    This also works way better if you live in fly-over country, where cost of living is still reasonable.

  3. One of the Dirty Little Secrets out there is that at least 50% of people (and more likely 75%) are just not good college material. They aren’t smart enough, not prepared enough, not dedicated enough. Not to tackle a serious course of study. You want to know what an engineering school is like? Go beat your head against a brick wall. For nine hours per day, every day, for five years.

    But they have money…and have been conned into believing that if they mortgage themselves to the hilt to get “a college degree”, everything will come up roses. And it doesn’t.

  4. My engineering degree is useful in about 5% of what I do to earn a living. It has yet to pay for itself.

    Everything my father taught me, everything I learned in shop class, and everything I ferreted out on my own as an incorrigible boy– that’s what made it possible for me to start my first business. And sell it. And start the second. And sell it… etc.

    The key component that’s missing today from virtually everyone under the age of 25 I attempt to employ is an inquisitive mind. I’m convinced you only get one as part of an upbringing that involves equal parts freedom and discipline. Having just enough rope to hang myself from the old man when I was a lad did more to make me successful than I could possibly have fathomed at the time.

  5. One thing folks need to consider when making a career decision. First and foremost is that depending on the work you choose, you have to consider that doing a very physical job at age 25 or 30, is *NOT* the same as doing the same job at age 65.

    Trust me on this.

    In 142 days, I will be retiring from a job I have been doing since 1979.

    It has been a good living and I have great retirement benefits. But believe me, I am ready to put down the toolbox.

  6. I have steered several young men into apprenticeships for things like electrical, plumbing and building. My advice? Do your time, learn to be excellent, then go out on your own. By your late 20s go do a business or accounting degree if you want to build an empire, by that stage you will figure out what you need to succeed and make time to get it.

    I agree the lack of “handiness” in today’s youth is truly alarming, but it think it’s a product of the gradual trend towards specialisation and the general shift to a replace not repair world. My father in law built his first house with his father. Hand built, made roof trusses, window sashes, you name it. Obviously today you would not be allowed to do that. That house and the beach house he built in the late 40s are both still standing.

    I hated it, but I learnt basic carpentry, painting, basic electrical how to change a tap washer, how to maintain tools etc from either watching my father and handing him tools as he needed them, and he was a person with zero patience or “teaching ability”. It taught me to have a go.

    It frankly amazes me how many people for example don’t have a clue how to sharpen knives.

    Although one thing that is fantastic, virtually anything you want to do today, someone has made a video of how to do it and posted it on YouTube. This is a stunning resource bank for those who want to have a go. Example, I had a rattle in the rear view mirror of my mid 90s Mercedes. There were plenty of diagnostic resources available, videos of how to remove the mirror (not intuitive) and videos of how to repair it. Remarkable, and so much better than trying to decipher a Jaynes manual. So for codgers like me, it’s an incredibly valuable resource.

    Ps: I’m enjoying teaching my grandson how to service his car, fix the lawnmower, plan a project, stack a pile of wood and sharpen knives.

  7. I dropped out of college (I wasn’t ready and did poorly)
    I started as a Laborer, then Ironworker White Ticket, then took the test for Journeyman, went back and finished my undergrad working vacations and summers Ironworking.
    I found out that I wanted to be a Geologist while taking electives, so…..
    Worked for 2 years as an Ironworker to save money to go to Graduate School.
    Got accepted at Wyoming and finished Grad School in Geology in 2 years…..
    I have been working as a Geologist in the Oil Business for the past 39 years and have loved every minute except for the down-turns.
    Point being – find what you want to do, work hard to get the education to get to the goal, then work hard to be successful – I am 70 and still working full time and loving every minute (and the pay, vacation, medical is great).

  8. I learnt, 30 years ago, that having one of the children ‘help’ me do a job meant that it took twice as long. But showing them what to do was good for both of us.
    Today we have the smart-phone millenials. See it on screen; buy it on the card. Stops working – toss away, and buy new model. (Your Mr Sloane would be crowing about this).
    And then along comes universal social security, and the male impregnates girl: job done – move on. Who teaches lad to do handy things now?
    We are all doomed, I tell you.

  9. Here’s the quick and mostly dirty story of a guy who went the tech route – and did pretty well with it. I grew up in the 1960’s and my parents were just able to pay the rent and put some food on the table. I drove a old POS 61 Chevy and learned how to keep it running with the advice of my buddies (dad wasn’t much of a mechanic) and the Chilton books at the library. I graduated high school in 1969 and there wasn’t any money for college. I had the draft looking over my shoulder and the survival odds for an infantry grunt weren’t real good. So I joined Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club and worked as a machinist’s mate for four years. Good choice in civilian life as we were talking boiler operator, air conditioning tech etc. I left Uncle Sam’s employment in 1974 and got a job as a Stationary Engineer – that’s a boiler powerplant operator.

    I was able to get hired by a “large government agency” (that delivers the mail) a couple of years later as a Boiler and Air Conditioning Operator and then took a position as an HVAC instructor with that agency. At that point my education was a high school diploma, my military training and some tech school. I knew how things worked and discovered that I was pretty good at explaining how stuff worked to other people. I picked up an associates degree in electronics – which Uncle Sam paid for – because I realized that everything was going to be run by computers.

    I did adult education for that agency until I retired in 2008. The people that I worked with were mostly veterans because of our hiring policies and they had a good sense of how to fix things and also understood respect and hard work. We joked that our best students were retired navy Electricians and marine Gunnery Sergeants. The navy guys were master troubleshooters and the marines always showed up to work early and gave 110% to the job.

    After I retired I went back to the same agency and did ten more years as a contractor/consultant. With my civil service retirement and contractor salary – and a few bucks from the VA thrown in – I was making a six figure income. I’m proud to say that I never had a student loan. We always had “beans, blue jeans, beer and bullets” – plenty to eat, nice clothes, a little extra to enjoy life, and enough money to indulge our hobbies.

    I retired the second time back in July. Our very comfortable home and our vehicles are paid for and we have no bills other than utilities, insurance and taxes. We were very blessed because I got into a trade (HVAC) that paid well and I was fortunate to have a long term stable job that provided a good retirement. I don’t know what advice to give the young guys today other that to say that things will always break and nobody wants to get dirty. If you know how to turn a wrench you can always make a living and if things go to shite the people who can fix things will be the survivors.

  10. I did poorly my first year in college (too immature) and over the summer break decided the Marine Corps was the way to go. I scored high in my entrance exams for technical, especially electronics and ended up as a Marine electronics technician doing ground radio repair (an MOS that is now outsourced to civilians).

    After four years with the Corps, I was hired by a company teaching the Worthy Oriental Gentlemen of the Saudi military how to maintain their US communication equipment. I realized the Oil guys in the kingdom had it really great, and when I finished my contract I returned to the states and managed to get hired by an oilfield services company as a tech.

    Within a couple years I was working as a design engineer, still without a degree. I did go back to University while working to get my engineering degree. By this time I was very mature, so 4.0 all the way. I also started learning about investing.

    I had a great career, ending in higher middle management and deciding to retire in my mid 50s because I wanted to do other things and didn’t need to work. Still, one of my proudest moments was at the retirement lunch for one of my first bosses at the company. He was thanking us all, and he said to me “I’ve never seen anyone work so hard.”

  11. Just addressing the last point as a former Marine.

    Yes, it’s a bad time to join up. Peacetime sucks, and the culture is stagnating.

    As to the integrated boot thing, it’s fucking clickbait. Female recruits are too low to bother with having 4th battalion, so they’re sticking the ones they have in 3rd. This isn’t really news, just Parris Island being pragmatic.

  12. I am going to disagree on this topic a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with going down a skilled trade path, that is great for a lot of people (including sometimes women). The point though is that if you are going to be a man, then not running from challenges should be the first part of that.

    Of course, not being stupid about it is another part of it too. Don’t go to a school that is an expensive anti-male reeducation, left-wing training academy. That will not end well. But there are good schools that offer useful degrees that are valuable. If someone is inclined to that sort of thing, then going into something that you hate is not going to work out. Do some research and look at the ROI of prospective degrees at prospective universities. If it looks good and it is the field you want to go into, then do it.

    Additionally, we need more traditional men going into the service, not less. Yes there is too much PC bull going on, but there is the little matter that we need a strong military and we will not have it without good men going into it and fighting the good fight (against both the enemy and the PC bull).

    I know of what I speak. One son is commissioned in the Marines getting ready to go to flight school and another is in a relatively small (but good and well thought of) Midwestern engineering school studying Mechanical Engineering without putting on a lot of debt (hooray for academic scholarships.)

    Also, I have worked in the corporate world for since the mid-90’s (in engineering) and worked my way up to Director level. Sure I have worked in companies that went all in on the PC crap; and I left them for better ones – life is too short to deal with that stuff for too long. In any case, you are responsible for your career because in the end you work for yourself. It is good for the companies too in the long run, at some point they will realize they are chasing away talent and change (or fail, but that is okay too.)

    Develop your skills and increase your impact to the organization you work for. If they do not reward you, then find someone else who will. That is true whatever path you take.

  13. My father was a perfectly-designed, Capital “A” Asshole, or so I thought growing up. When presented with a “situation” his response was always “that sounds like your problem to solve.”

    We all should have that wisdom; having experienced it from the victim’s position, then learned it OJT from the other, I came to realize the job of a parent is not to prevent injury but to manage the degree of injury. Muscles become stronger because lifting weights slightly damages them, and the process of tissue repair is what creates the additional strength and capacity, making a stronger muscle.

    Such is also true with nearly everything human.

    I wound up with several degrees, a couple technical, a couple liberal arts, and wound up spending 34 years in the computer/IT industry doing everything from software support, designing semi-conductor production tooling, running technical education and training operations, and pretty much everything and anything ancillary to those areas. If I had it to do over, I’d skip structured degree programs and spend less than half the time learning specific things: business accounting, logistics, some people managing skills, a little chemistry, some mechanical and electrical engineering, a little bit of civil engineering, some basic all-trade construction skills and techniques, and get very, very good at research so I know how to find out what I need to know for the next opportunity. Once I found myself part of contract negotiations for a multi-million dollar production facility and I was the only one on our side of the table with detailed knowledge of what the construction trades did and how they did it, and what the schedule required.

    It was the sheepskins that got me in the door, but nothing I did for that third of a century actually required a degree, just the minimum knowledge of how to do it, the willingness to learn or, most often, figure out, what I didn’t yet know, and the drive to achieve success. A lot more than I would have believed of what I wound up doing turned out to be something no one had considered doing before; closely following the “career parameters” of a particular degree or business organizational structure would have precluded most of that. It’s not so much thinking outside the box that’s valuable, it’s the mere presence of the box itself that’s the hazard.

    Another key component: Knowing When To Move On. There comes a time when it’s not so much that you’ve done all you can, but you’ve done all they will let you do, and seeing that coming is a valuable skill. The old story about corporate employment, which is true of all employment, is that the second thing one does in a new job is to begin training one’s replacement because the first thing is “start looking for your next job.”

    Learn much, learn fast, then use it to find, or better yet, create, your next opportunity. Work construction (I did in college for a couple summers) because you’ll be granted the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount, including that by age 50 your body won’t let you do it anymore; work direct customer contact because it’s highly enlightening and extremely educational about people and how businesses and people interact, and a dead-end job sewer to be done once and never again; never turn down an opportunity or a challenge, especially when you’re young and failure is cheaper, because few study success but everyone analyzes failure and it’s one hell of an educational tool, and; most important, while both are useful, a compass is more valuable than a map because a compass tells direction and maps tell <routes.

    Kim’s caution is valid: avoid female-dominated fields, and businesses; females will always control HR, but if they control HR within a female-run business it will be a toxic environment (what they fail to understand is that making it toxic for men makes it toxic for everyone).

    There’s an old proverb that says “Women get married believing they can change their husbands and men get married believing their wives will never change; both are wrong.” Jobs are the same way: the job will change you while you’re changing the job.

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