A Lifetime of Opportunities

Dawson Barnard

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It has been estimated that a person will change their career three at the least to seven at the most times on average throughout their professional life. Sometimes it is for personal advancement, but other times it may be by force.  In the interest of learning more, I reached out to the person I know who has held the most career jobs: Kirk Barnard.

Even before reaching his professional life, he experienced changes in practices.  When he started college at Purdue University in Lafayette Indiana, Kirk was studying Agricultural Engineering.  The family background in agriculture lead him to this field. In the beginning of his junior year of college, he transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where Agricultural Engineering was not offered.  This lead to Kirk studying Mechanical Engineering. He said, “It made the most sense, because they are the same general study, with one being focused in agriculture. Mechanical Engineering also involves design and dealing with the tangible, instead of Chemical Engineering where you’ll just be doing math.”

A change in practice this early was almost certainly foreshadowing what was to come professionally.  Averaging four to five years at each business, Kirk has been a product designer for Airtex and Federal Mogul, a Quality Engineer at NAL, Senior Quality Engineer at General Dynamics, and is currently a Program Manager at Five Pack Creative.  Now working primarily from home, he believes it takes more self motivation and that there are many more distractions at home than working in an office environment.

He also said, “I never really wanted to do program management, but that is typically what happens as you gain more experience as an engineer.  It just leads to management positions.” After being asked why he deviated from his original job doing CAD design, he said “Well, I followed advancement opportunities, whether they were financial or to improve home life.”  Kirk shows that there is no reason to be stressed picking a major in college, because he and many others have successfully changed careers throughout their professional lives.

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