I have been an advocate for education for many years. If you have been along on this journey with me for any length of time, I hope you realize this. For those of you just joining us on the journey, I say welcome and I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I have.
Education is THE most important thing we do in our career. This industry changes so quickly what you learn today just may be out dated in five or ten years, so how does one keep up? Well, it used to be that you had to go to a brick and mortar school, but now you have choices—school or the Internet!
What started out as a government project has evolved to affect every aspect of our lives, from controlling games, controlling cars, controlling our finances, and yes, even to our education. There are now people who get advanced college degrees without ever sitting in a classroom. Imagine a doctor doing an operation on a patient who is in an operating room a half a world away. It is done! All thanks to the electronic world we live and work in. The new and upcoming stars of our industry know this all too well, they were brought up with it, and we older workhorses need to catch up to them if we want to stay ahead of the curve.
This, however, is a two way street! As everyone knows there is no better teacher than experience and upcoming technicians look to the more experienced. But I see too often where a youngster asks questions of a seasoned technician and only gets grief from him. Is it because the “teacher” does not want to be bothered talking with the rookie? Is it because he does not feel it’s his job? Does he feel that the rookie should spend more time in school? Maybe, just maybe, he feels threatened by the questions!
Young technicians have spent time in school to get their feet wet, but they are going to make mistakes. I remember when I started in this industry I went to a service call, for no heat, at about 7 pm. When I stuck the buried tank, guess what, I found the tank empty. I did not have any good words for the oil truck dispatcher, not at 7 pm! I did what I was taught to do, which was to put the unit on a “temp can” overnight and the oil truck would get there first thing in the morning.
Well, at around 11 pm I got the call that there was no heat again at that residence. When I arrived, I found the house cold, an unhappy customer, and my “temp can” empty. Now this was not a mansion, but a normal Long Island home of about 1900 square feet. The five gallons of oil should have been enough fuel to last all night, but it was empty. And no, there was no oil leaking from the can! What had I (this young rookie) done wrong?
I was taught to run a temporary oil line to the fuel pump—yep, I called it a pump back then. Today I know better, it does a lot more than pump, but that’s for another day. No one had ever told me about the return line! Yes, the oil pump became a transfer pump, sending all the return oil back to the buried oil tank. And as we know that did not take very long indeed. So for you veterans, when a rookie asks you a question, please give him/her the time and answer it.
There are so many opportunities for the rookies to learn. Every company we deal with has education opportunities. The manufacturers put continuing education on their website, which is an excellent tool to learn their products.
However, training in cyberspace is only part of the learning process. There is no better way to get hands on experience than going to a brick and mortar school. And if your company offers any training take it! Remember something I learned a long time ago: the company you work for can take their truck, they can take your job, BUT they can’t take away your knowledge. What you learn travels with you wherever you go.
And don’t forget the upcoming trade shows. Here is an excellent chance to touch and feel all the goodies. Take the time to attend and learn.
I hope everyone realizes that we are on this ride together and remember what I learned long, long ago, no man left behind. Teach the youngsters, they will be our legacy.
As always, I truly enjoy hearing your war stories and I have gotten some good ones lately. Send me yours and, who knows, yours could be on this page. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for your comments, good and bad.