Job-bouncer breaks cycle with Maintenance Technician program – Grad Q&A with Emmanuel Pean
By his late twenties Emmanuel Pean had taken a lot of career ideas for a test drive. His college coursework had him bouncing from majors in physical therapy to law enforcement to computer engineering and whatever else caught his interest. Nothing clicked.
His job history reflected his career indecision. He sold vacation time-shares, alarm systems and did a stint at H&R Block. He knew there should be more, he should feel a deeper commitment and greater sense of job satisfaction. He just wasn’t sure what that looked like…or how to get there.
What did that uncertainty feel like?
Everywhere I worked I was always driving to be there long-term. But they were steppingstones; I wasn’t digging in. All I knew was to just do the standard: go to college, find a good job and go from there.
I was the king of bouncing around. I finally had a talk with myself. ‘You’re thirty years old and you need to get your life together. All the partying needs to stop, and you need to figure s*** out.’
What did figuring-it-out look like?
I was working as a Materials Handler at Tesla (driving a forklift) and I saw a technician who looked real satisfied and like he was enjoying his job. I asked him questions about what steps he took, and he had gone to the Maintenance Technician program at SJVC.
I needed to take steps like that to plan for a lifestyle. And what he said was enough motivation for me to go and do it. He lit the way.
What was your first step?
When I first called SJVC’s Modesto campus they set me up with a Financial Services Advisor and she assisted me with the Financial Aid part. Then I talked with an Admissions Advisor and started the Maintenance Technician program about a month later.
What were your expectations of working in this field?
I really didn’t know much about the industry, though I’d YouTubed a couple of videos. I didn’t have any expectations; didn’t know if I would be working with robots (automated equipment). A lot of older guys working in this area are retiring, so it’s making room for guys like me coming into the industry.
Were you up to the challenge of school and working full-time?
I was totally focused on school, and I was still working 12-hour shifts at Tesla. I didn’t have much of a life. The class was Mon-Thrs. mornings from 7:15 to noon, then Tesla from 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM. I got maybe 3-hours sleep a night for those 7 months. Those were the hardest months of my life.
What about the Maintenance Technician program really worked for you?
I loved how hands-on it was. I’m a show-me type of guy. Also, how the professor engages with the students and how he’s there to help you with your grades or extra study time. Any time I had a question, Mr. Eberhard was always responsive.
What was your greatest struggle?
It’s an accelerated course, so the hardest part was having to take in all the information. And just trying to keep a work-life balance. I’m in a relationship the last couple of years (Kelly) and she was very supportive.
What inspired you to keep going on this very difficult path?
My sister, Isabella, is a go-getter and very positive. She came out to visit me from Florida and kind of gave me a pep talk. She laid out my foundation (family history) and reminded me of how it was growing up. I had been just winging it for too long. I didn’t want to keep going in that direction.
It was more like I had to do this. And, my mom, Elizabeth, tells me she’s happy for me.
Where are you now – post Maintenance Technician program?
I started my new job at Tesla on December 27th as an Equipment Maintenance Technician, and it feels right. I’m loving it!
Right now, I’m still in training so I’m shadowing and learning a lot because there’s a lot to take in. I walk around with a note pad every day and enjoying it. I make sure that the robots are up to parr and fully operational and that production lines are running. If they go down, it’s usually either a miscommunication in the system or something as small as something blocking a sensor. It’s my job to fix the issue.
You worked hard to get to this point. What advice do you have for someone interested in career education for your new career field?
Just stay with it. Stay on course and work through it. It is all worth it. I see a couple of guys I went to school with here (SJVC’s Maintenance Technician program) in the same job as mine, just different shifts. We used to talk about it in class….’Wouldn’t it be cool working there (Tesla) together’. And now we do.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m just taking it one step at a time. I’m content where I’m at.
Everybody around me is my motivator. I watch, I listen, I learn, then take it and apply it. I figure out what to do with it.
Is there a long-term goal you envision?
I am planning on going back to school this summer for an Engineering degree. Hopefully, I go independent and create my own business with my degree.
I learned that to get what you want you really just go after it…and don’t let anybody get in the way.
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