Sunday, March 2, 2014

Introduction - Phase 2: The New Beginning...Or, How I Learned To Love Retirement

Ok, ok, this blog post has nothing to do with learning to love retirement...carry on!

Ah-hem!  Welcome back, gentle insomniac!  I am glad you decided to slog through part two of my multi-part blog series.

In the last episode, we left our hero firmly in the grips of the...oh, never mind, wrong story.  Since retiring from the Air Force, I moved my family to Denver and started searching for a J-O-B!  A bonafide, no kidding, dyed-in-the-wool civilian job.  Unfortunately, Denver didn't really have a need for my Airfield Management skills, and my security skills would not have garnered a living wage for my family and I to live off of (hence, living wage).

Without the ability to put my highly polished, near super-human, AF developed skills to good use outside of said AF, I had a decision to make.  The decision in question was whether to continue trying to find a job that was similar to my specialty or try to follow after one of my passions, computers.  Most people assume that computers, or IT in general, is highly lucrative and should have been a no-brainer for me.  Not so. It was difficult for several reasons, first being that I had no real professional experience and second, no training.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let's get back to the story...

During my initial job search after the relocation, I went to a job fair at the Sports Authority Field.  There, I met Zach Jacobsen, from LeaderQuest.  He looked over my resume and told me that his company provides job search assistance, as well as training, and that he would like to set up an appointment to meet with me.  I agreed, though I must admit I was a bit weary of doing business with a company that I had never heard of.  I guess I was a bit fearful that they were going to use the job search assistance as a way to scam me into paying for some expensive, but useless, training.

When I went home, I asked my father-in-law if he had ever heard of LeaderQuest before.  He answered, no.  Hmmm...my little scam detecting radar was starting to warm up...was this a fly-by-night organization?  I needed answers and I needed them quick.  So, I turned to the font of knowledge that every techno-geek turns to...Google!  I did several searches, including using the terms fraud and complaints, just to make sure that I was getting the most accurate information about LeaderQuest that I could.  There wasn't much, at all, about LeaderQuest.

Now, I must admit, my scam detector was working overtime.  Most companies that provide IT training also have a huge, secondary presence on the internet.  Usually, it is the blog and forum world that provides independent verification of worth.  No such luck when dealing with LQ.  So, I looked at the Better Business Bureau's website and noticed that only two complaints had been lodged against them in roughly fifteen years.  I read the details that BBB made available and it would seem that they (BBB) were satisfied that LQ did everything possible to resolve the complaints.  After reading that, I was feeling a bit more comfortable with the company but I wasn't quite ready to let my guard down just yet.

I went to the appointment that I had scheduled with Zach.  He looked over my resume, told me that I had a lot of experience and training that would be useful to many employers in the Denver area.  He also told me that while LeaderQuest is a training organization first and foremost, they were committed to assisting veterans in their job search.  This assistance was without cost and without strings, meaning that I didn't need to use their training services in order to get access to their job resources.  Admittedly, this helped to further allay my fears.

We chatted about my resume, my past experiences with technology, what my passions were in life, etc.  After nearly an hour of conversation, Zach outlined how LeaderQuest could help me in my job search.  Taking a few minutes, he went back to his office to get the literature that he wanted me to review when I got home.  Talk about a "ton" of information.  I almost entered information overload!  Besides the normal "this is the training we provide"-type of literature, Zach also gave me some information on job forecasts which highlighted the benefits of taking the type of training that LeaderQuest offered.

I went home, discussed it with my wife and my in-laws, thought about it, discussed it some more, then decided to pull-the-trigger and go for it.  I made a follow up appointment with Zach to discuss the finer details of how it would be paid for, when the training would start/end, and what could be done for me in the mean time.  Pretty standard stuff, really.

We sat down and talked about how the G.I. Bill would pay for all of the training and that they would assist me in filing the appropriate paper work.  If you've ever encountered government paper work, you know how confusing it can be.  I am quite thankful that LeaderQuest has had the amount of experience dealing with the VA that they have.  I couldn't imagine trying to wade through the miles and miles of red tape that are the stock-in-trade for the VA.  It didn't take very long for us to complete all of the paper work.  I think it took longer for him to print the paper work than it did for me to initial, print, and sign the small mountain of paper work that was necessary before I was officially "in".  All-in-all, as easy and pain-free as one could hope for.

In conclusion, it took a fair bit of prayer, discussion, perusing the paper work that Zach gave me, and researching everything about LeaderQuest to get me to a point where I was willing to take what, in retrospect, was a small leap of faith.  Small leaps of faith can be good for the soul.  And, boy, am I glad that I took that leap of faith!

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