March/April 2022 - 105

BERNARD H. HERTLEIN, SENIOR
CONSULTANT, NONDESTRUCTIVE TESTING
AND GEOPHYSICS, GEI CONSULTANTS
G U E S T
EDI TORIAL
As I cruised past retirement age, several
people asked when I would stop
working. I didn't really have an answer
because I mostly enjoy what I do, but it
led me to reflect on how I got here from
being the directionless young college
kid that I once was. An early childhood
as the son of a German father and an
English mother in post-WWII Europe
instilled a wanderlust that has never
left me, and significantly impacted the
opportunities that came my way later.
As my life and career evolved, I was
lucky to have a few outstanding
mentors, and I have, in turn, enjoyed
mentoring others, which is the
motivation for writing this article.
Passion Can Build a Plan
Transitioning from school into a career
is a huge step, fraught with self-doubt
for many. Whether it be in accounting,
engineering or zoo keeping, the perception
that this first job will shape the rest
of your life is common, and gives rise to
questions such as, " Am I really qualified
for this? " or " What if I don't like this
job? " and even " What if I really screw
up and get fired? " Many of the same
doubts arise during a career change,
with advice often full of well-meant
cliches and platitudes, like " Be true to
yourself, " " Follow your dream, " or " Find
a job that you love, and you'll never
work a day the rest of your life. " For the
fortunate few, a career plan involves:
* Graduating from a good college with
a degree in an interesting, lucrative
discipline
* Joining a good company that pays
well for a job you love
* Retiring to buy a house on a golf course
* Being successful and earning lots of
money
Wise Ways to Build Toward Your Desired Career
Most of us, however, encounter a
few bumps and diversions along the
way. In my own case, I never had a clear
plan or vision - I just wanted to do
interesting stuff. In my childhood living
on farms in Germany and south
England, I became fascinated with farm
machinery of all kinds. I also loved
airplanes, and when I was in high
school in Farnborough, U.K., (home of
the Royal Aircraft Establishment), I
wanted to become a pilot. I struggled
with advanced math, but did well in
English, French and the sciences,
particularly physics, and had a great
interest in electrical and mechanical
things. Leaving high school as a
budding gearhead, I was eager to start
earning a living; so I gave up on aviation
and signed on to apprentice at a local
car dealership.
I wasn't keen on sweeping the floors
and being the tea boy to start, but I
enjoyed learning the trade and did very
well in the day-release program at the
local technical college, even being
allowed to skip part of the course
because of previous high school
coursework. I graduated college with
honors in automotive engineering and a
heady sense of unrealistic ambitions,
including landing a job as more than a
junior mechanic.
Career-Building Lessons
The disi l lusioning lessons that
followed were tempered by sage advice
from a mentor about the importance of
networking, particularly with those
older and smarter than me. In those
pre-Internet days, networking meant
making personal connections at work,
social functions and industry events.
Those connections permitted me to
build on my electrical and mechanical
knowledge to help start a new business,
which involved developing sound and
lighting systems for discotheques,
nightclubs and theaters. That work
eventually led me into the construction
industry as an instrumentation
special ist , and thence into the
fascinating world of geophysics and
nondestructive testing.
Three things that I learned along the
way stand out. The first is that interests
can become your strengths if you find
the right applications; the second is that
you should never stop learning. When it
comes to interests and opportunities,
self-guided study is an important skill to
cultivate. Don't think of it as homework
- think of it as an investment in your
own future, and it will pay dividends.
The third thing is that you never
know which casual or professional
acquaintance might spark your next big
idea or provide the next door-opening
introduction or opportunity, so be nice
to everyone! Joining professional or
industry associations connected with
your work is also worthwhile from a
career development point of view, and
often, employers will cover membership
dues. Attending the appropriate
conferences or conventions, however, is
often dependent on your grade level or
seniority, and your involvement in the
organization in question. It costs money
to attend, and most employers are
looking for a return on that investment,
either in company exposure or your
enhanced skills. However, modern
technology allows most committee
work to be virtual nowadays, so take
advantage of that! Much of the
committee work, like developing
documents, guides or standards, can
also be done in your own time. Again, it's
a learning opportunity, another
DEEP FOUNDATIONS * MAR/APR 2022 * 105

March/April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2022

TOC
March/April 2022 - Intro
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