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I try to stay happy and focused. These are unfortunate times for many like me with unemployment being so high. I never thought it would happen, but at the same time it ended up being a blessing in disquise!
After I became unemployed I began thinking if I really wanted to stay in the Manufacturing industry. I had been in manufacturing for over 25 years in the steel related field and knew I wasn't getting any younger. The thought of hauling steel around a building over my shoulder was growing less attractive every day as well as wearing me down.
When I was younger, I had majored in Art at my High School. When I had graduated I did some work that I had found locally doing Animation - actually, it was the Opaquing or painting on the reverse side of animated art cels. I had worked on the Disney's 'Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore', 'Cap'n O.G. Readmore' for ABC TV, and 'The Bollo Caper' for ABC Saturday Afternoon Specials.
My employer moved to Georgia and I was stuck. That is when I found work in manufacturing.
Anyway, unemployment hit and I found myself at a crossroad. Keep doing the same old thing or try to do something different that I enjoyed. I ended up one day driving into the parking lot of ITT Technical Institute in Strongsville, Ohio. There I was taken on a tour on the school and was given a breakdown of what the classes would involve for me.
The next thing I knew, I was in school going my Associates degree in Visual Communications! I have to say that I'm having a blast and kick myself for not doing it sooner. School started in September of 2008 and I will graduate in 2010.
It is a strange feeling being back in school. I sit in classes where the age ranges from 18 to around 65! It is amazing. More amazing is the amount of things that I had learned that I still am able to use today. Animation is not done on paper and painted onto art cels of years gone by. Today it is done on the computer and I am shocked at what I can do. The more I do, the more I want to do.
The teachers are helpful and it's a good feeling to share your experiences with those whom are younger and haven't had the chance to be in the workforce for years like myself. Everyone is open and we all help each other. Much of that changes when you are employed full time because co-workers are all fighting for some kind of recognition from their employer. Knowledge is power and people do not like to share it.
As I said, I try to stay positive about things, but that also is becoming difficult as my 'Extended' unemployment benefits are running out. No one is hiring in manufacturing near me and I have had only one phone call since August of 2008! But that's not going to stop me from moving forward. This is something that I have to complete for myself and my family.
If there is anyone else going through something similar to myself, hang in there! Everyday is different and so are the results.

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