This book teaches you how to take the exciting fantasy of travel to places near and far, and make it a reality. Remarkable experiences happen to venturesome travelers: Stimulating conversations, delightful eating, vistas leaving you speechless, an unexpectedly generous smile, even invitations, if you're lucky, to participate in local, fascinating ways of life. Exhilarating travel experiences exceed what most once-a-year vacationers’ experience. Seasoned travelers discover them most often because they've journeyed often and far enough to enjoy what is unique about a place. They expect nothing more and certainly nothing less.
Big bucks:- Becoming an experienced traveler can be very expensive. A single airline flight across the United States costs hundreds of dollars. Flights to other continents cost thousands of dollars. When you add a first-class (but not luxury) hotel, three meals, and local transportation, expenses can range up to $200 per day in some American cities. It becomes painfully clear why most people save a very long time in order to afford a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Becoming an experienced traveler seems to be the prerogative of the rich.
The U.S. travel industry, however, says that its bread-and-butter income is provided by business travelers, who travel to find new customers, to satisfy old ones, or to meet with employees at other company branches. Sixty-five percent of the revenues of the transportation and tourism industry derive from business enterprises willing to pay for convenient transportation and accommodations for their employees on the road. U.S. companies spend $70 billion a year keeping their employees on the go. (Women, by the way, take 30 percent of air-travel business trips.)
Paid travelers:-No flash of brilliance is required to see a dovetailing of interests. Many companies want competent employees willing to travel and some willing travelers are competent employees. That's why this book was written, to guide the would-be traveler who has the makings of a competent employee to the companies and jobs that need them and can offer you a job as a PT, a paid traveler.
The promise of travel:-When you travel away from familiar people and places, you become a new person. Habits fall away. New sights add to your store of images. Old beliefs are replaced by fresh ones. We are free from bonds we may eagerly return to at journey's end.
One PT first experienced this freedom in her late teens when she moved to another state. Family and friends behind her, she realized she could make up an entirely different past for herself because no one nearby could dispute it. More importantly, she could make up an entirely different future for herself. For her new acquaintances her future was her own enterprise. What had been expected of her in the old setting no longer held? Her past remained the same, but each day's activities and thoughts changed her future because the familiar had been replaced by infinite possibilities.
Such possibilities stimulate the human imagination to high levels of creativity and playfulness. It's fun and enjoyment of the purest kind. In the course of a lifetime, perhaps only twice do the possibilities seem greater than the probabilities: one's birth and an encounter with a good teacher. We can't recreate the first but we quickly discover that travel is a good teacher.
A good teacher produces students who think for themselves. A good teacher stimulates a higher, broader level of thought. A good teacher is fun.
Students who have travel as a teacher read a newspaper or watch a television newscast with eyes different from those who have not. Their personal observations, frequently gathered where the news is taking place, may completely change the story. Travel also teaches tolerance because it remolds religious and political prejudices. As travel makes you a world citizen, it makes you love your country more.
Travel also satisfies your need for change. The PTs profiled in this book repeatedly cite the sheer newness of what they see and do on their trips as the major attraction of a traveling lifestyle. It's a form of rebirth, a return to the infinite possibilities of youth.
Billy Goforth Kissinger (see chapter 5, "Opening Exciting Vistas") feels she learned personal assertiveness and to accept differences in people because of her time spent traveling. Jeannie Cowley (see chapter 1, "First Job") says traveling helped her grow up and eliminated her fear of the unknown. A classroom teacher is proud if a single student expands insights in these areas, but as you read the profiles of other PTs, you will see it's a commonplace occurrence for them. And it will be for you when you become a PT.
The remaining chapters of this book show you how to find an employer who will pay the way for your personal growth. Because the mere idea of travel is so glamorous and appears out of reach to those who badly want it, however, it takes on mythical proportions. Although journeys to distant places are alluring and are sometimes overwhelmingly adventurous, every trip has a downside, made up of the less enjoyable aspects of travel.
The air conditioning may be broken (or nonexistent) in a crowded airport lounge where you are forced to wait for hours and/or your luggage may be sent to another destination and/or your hotel room is on a much lower scale than you envisioned. These are also major elements of travel.
The volatile mixture of surging highs and depressing lows can quickly wear out the unsuspecting. Edward Potter is a good example. He acquired a traveling job as a trainer for a telecommunications company after he'd been out of college for two years. During that time he worked at jobs that didn't fully utilize his skills. Thus the opportunity offered by the telecommunications company seemed too good to be true. 50 percent of the time he would travel all over the United States to train employees of some of the best known companies in the world. All his expenses were paid, of course.
It was good for a while. Edward spent enough time in New York, Houston, and San Francisco to feel comfortable in them. He enjoyed what he saw and felt he'd found his niche. Then, he encountered unanticipated doses of reality. He found himself unable to keep track of his friends while he was gone. His family was undergoing emotionally trying times and he was around only for the bad times. Coupled with the normal peaks and valleys of business travel in a growing company, such as organizational changes and limited preparation time, Edward began to feel exhausted. It suddenly became very important to Edward to stay home for a while. The travel he had embraced so enthusiastically became a burden; he felt put-upon by the employment that had delivered him from a series of mundane jobs. In less than a year Edward was burned out. Against his will he became depressed and resentful at work and at home.
Fortunately, another job was available at the same company and he made a successful transition to it. The new job required much less travel. Edward is much happier now and he continues to travel enough to satisfy the adventurer in his soul.
Can you be a PT? Edward probably could have avoided some of his mental anguish. An accurate measure of the wide variety of situations, both good and bad, that face travelers would have helped. Edward could have talked frankly with his travel-savvy co-workers and used their advice to create a detailed list of the pros and cons of business travel. That would have been a valuable first step, since those who travel a great deal regularly encounter less savory travel-related events. How they deal with and the otherwise totally un-redeeming determines the amount of pleasure they draw from each trip. The same is true for you.
A strong heart:- The second and more difficult step is to compare the extremes associated with business travel to one's ability to cope with them. That takes self-knowledge, a rare commodity of individuals who pursue a goal with single-minded determination.
For example, when Alegra Bass, sales support manager for a data communications company, first contemplated incorporating business travel into her career plan, she was a technical writer. She traveled only in her imagination until she contacted her company's international marketing division. She made an appointment to talk with its director about her interests and the enticement of international business. They discussed many fascinating topics, but what most intrigued Alegra was his statement that a job like his required a "strong heart." At the time Alegra didn't understand. But now, after hundreds of international and domestic trips, she does.
She understands the need for physical strength when inconvenient connecting flights force her to lug heavy equipment too delicate for the luggage compartment from one end of an airport terminal to another or when a visit to a customer includes an early breakfast meeting, walk-through tours of several buildings and a late dinner to finish the discussions.
She understands the need for mental strength when a four-hour training session expands to eight hours because her students have only a rudimentary knowledge of English. Or when all-day planning meetings, during which the crucial details of installing a new computer system are made final, are held in August in a room that has no air conditioning, promoting a strong desire to nap on the middle of the conference table.
She understands the need for emotional strength when, halfway around the world and sick with a cold, a radio plays Willie Nelson's "You Were Always On My Mind," and she suddenly believes that homesickness can be fatal.
She continues to travel, though, and continues to love it. For Alegra, a strong heart derives from physical, mental, and emotional strength.
Because the decision to travel in your work is a major career decision that affects all parts of your life, from what you eat to where you sleep to how you view your kindred human beings, it is an important decision indeed. Like any career decision, it has, if made incorrectly, the potential for creating extreme unhappiness for yourself and those close to you. Of course, wrong decisions cannot be totally avoided and few decisions are permanent. But for this major endeavor, you need a full view of what you may face as you formulate your plans.
Let us start with a test, not to weed out the fainthearted, but to reveal a smattering of the many aspects of business travel you must cope with effectively. The test is not scientific, but is based on the experiences, concerns, and perceptions of the interviewees whose profiles appear in this book.
The quiz may seem unusual because it covers an unusual combination of topics: Your appearance, your work style, the nature of your relationships with people outside of work, and personality traits. Despite their disparity, these areas of concern business travelers address every time they plan a trip.
For example, the appearance standards required at the home office are also required when you're traveling as a representative of the company. Can you maintain these standards without immediate access to your closet and bathroom at home? When you're at your home office, you know where everything you need is located and how to use the basic services provided by your company. Will you be able to do the same at an unfamiliar location where such services may not be available? At home, communicating with your family and friends is a matter of picking up the phone or driving across town. Will your relationships remain strong when you are hundreds or thousands of miles away from home? Willingness to adapt to the new, unusual, and inconvenient is the hallmark of enjoyable travel. Will your personality allow you to do so? Only you have the answers.
Scoring:- The test contains twenty-five statements. If you agree with the statement, circle true as your response. If you disagree, circle false. After completing the quiz, use the answer key to determine your score, and allow four points for each correct response. Then fit your score into the categories following the answer key. Following the scoring categories, the test statements are grouped by the fundamental issues to which they apply. To help you understand why a particular statement was included on the test, read the explanations associated with the test statements.
- Your friends and family are interested in your concerns and make great efforts to keep up with your activities.
- You can handle several work projects simultaneously and have no problem putting a project on the back burner or dropping it altogether when another project takes precedence.
- Freedom from hair dryers and related paraphernalia is your goal; you are willing to pay a great deal for wash-and-go hair.
- You sleep soundly only in your own bed, using the pillow you have had since childhood.
- Garry-through has never been a problem for you; you complete a project even when you are somewhat bored with it.
- You crash after a period of high activity on the job and don't really become yourself for some time.
- Waiting in lines does not bother you.
- You have never written a memo, prepared a presentation, or completed a report that wasn't triple-checked, error-free, and complete.
- You are an acknowledged rebel in your crowd and have been, known to react sharply to those who attempt to control aspects of your life.
- Rehashing completed projects with your coworkers resurrects issues that may cause problems again if not corrected; these "postmortems" help your group to avoid repeating mistakes.
- Actual problem solving is your forte; summarizing the results in an orderly fashion seems unnecessary.
- Your dry cleaner is both reliable and skilled; your cleaned and pressed garments are always ready when promised:
- Bureaucratic demands for paperwork that you think unnecessary make you angry.
- You do very good; work, fully utilizing the support skills of the receptionist, the word-processing folks, and the copy department. TRUE
- In the past, leaving for summer camp, college, or vacations caused your family great consternation and you a great deal of guilt. TRUE
- You always launder tonight the clothes you plan to wear tomorrow. TRUE
- If you left unexpectedly on a two-week trip tonight, your home including pets and plants would be fine until you returned. TRUE
- Well-coordinated clothing is important to you only when each outfit is accompanied by its correct pair of shoes do you feel truly comfortable. TRUE
- Unanticipated changes to your work plans generally don't bother you. TRUE
- You follow a food plan that prescribes what and when you eat in great detail. TRUE
- Your immediate surroundings are of little concern to you; in your home and office everything is geared to usefulness, not aesthetics TRUE
- You've never overindulged in food or alcoholic beverages and never will. TRUE
- Asking a stranger to join you for dinner shows poor form. TRUE
88-100. PERFECTION. You are the perfect business traveler. Your lack of ordinary human characteristics indicates you may be an extra terrestrial, in which case you already have a job that takes you traveling.
60-80. FLEXIBILITY WINS OUT. You can adjust to business travel with relative ease. You will encounter rough spots but your general adaptability will help you keep your perspective.
40-60. IMPROVEMENT REQUIRED. Business travel will be hard on you. To improve your flexibility, go over each question you answered incorrectly; the ability to honestly change a response increases your score by four points. Consider the behavior you have to change to legitimately use the correct response to the statement. Don't neglect areas related to the statement such as waiting in lines at the post office or tailgating slower-moving cars on the highway. All your incorrect responses may fall into one group (see response groupings below), which might be relatively easy to adjust if you make it a top priority. What is especially important is that you consider modifying your behavior in your daily work now so that it will have changed by the time you're traveling.
4-36. PAUSE FOR REFLECTION. Seriously consider that recurring travel may not be for you. If you are determined, though, follow the suggestions provided in the IMPROVEMENT REQUIRED category above. Give yourself sufficient time to internalize any behavior you try to modify.
CONTROL (statements 10, 21). Control over all aspects of your life you do not have when travel is an integral part of your job. If your boss walks up to you and says, "Tomorrow you've got to go to Chicago," then tomorrow you go to Chicago. Your current work projects are interrupted and your social plans come to a halt. That's lack of control only at its broadest.
On a more minute level, lack of control extends to areas such as flight schedules, ground transportation, and meal times. The weather, of course, can control everything, from the drive to the airport to the departure time of your airplane. Several PTs profiled for this book regard getting to and from airports as the part of their jobs they liked least. To survive the vagaries of business travel you must realize that you have no power to control certain things.
WORK STYLE (statements 3, 9). If your work style dictates that you begin and end one project before you begin another, you may have difficulty working and traveling. A last-minute notice to visit a customer in another city may interrupt your current project. A second or even a third project may be generated by your meetings with the customer, temporarily pushing your original project even further down on the priority list. When you return to it, your enthusiasm may be much lower, yet the project must be completed.
Regaining or retaining interest in back-burner assignments as well as dropping a pet project if need be is the key to maintaining your position as a productive contributor both at home and on the road. You may also have to prepare a report or presentation for your meeting with a customer, but limited time does not allow you the luxury of several re-workings to ensure it is up to your standards. This too requires adjustments to your work style.
APPEARANCE (statements 4, 20). A fable for the work place: A group of trainers, both men and women, were sent by a manufacturer of word processing equipment to reassure a nervous customer that his employees would get as much training as needed to make them productive on the new system as soon as possible.
The time the trainers were to spend with the customer's employees was specified in the contract between the two companies. A great deal of coordination went into arranging the training schedule. At the appointed hour, however, the trainers did not show up, even though they had called when they arrived the night before. Two and a half hours later, the trainers appeared. Why were they late? Their hotel lost electrical power and they could not use their hair dryers. Because they felt incapable of appearing in public without first blow-drying their hair, they jeopardized their employer's contract and the overall success of the installation.
The moral: Simple hairstyles that don't require elaborate preparation and that don't embarrass you in heat, wind, and rain are crucial for the business traveler.
When it comes to clothing, a second major point of concern with one's appearance, learn that nonessential clothing is burdensome weight that you will have to transport through airports. Over time, mistakes in this area are self-correcting.
PREPARING YOURSELF (statements 12, 17, 19). Business travel requires continuous leave takings of people and places. Most frequently you leave your family and friends and home. Without your energetic contributions before you leave, unfortunate situations develop.
Your friends, if they aren't kept aware of your schedule, he is not planning on your company at parties, restaurants or movies. If your family is close-knit, they may initially resent the emotional turmoil you put them through each time you leave. The efforts of several people may be required to maintain your dwelling in your absence; before leaving, you may have to arrange for someone to water the plants, pick up newspapers and mail, feed the fish, board the cat, etc. One PT said trying to keep her friends back home was the most difficult adjustment she had to make. Another said, "It can be very hard to travel this much. Not just the jet lag, but it can be hard to keep your bills paid, your friends, your husband, and everything else."
Keeping your relationships and domestic affairs rolling along while you requires a lot of coordination and organized effort before you ever reach the airport.
EN ROUTE (statements 1, 8, 22). Travel industry advertising does not always match reality. For example, flight schedules may not coincide with yours. You cannot physically make a plane get off the ground sooner or make it fly faster. Car rental agencies try to offer friendly, fast service, but sometimes clerks scowl and long lines are unavoidable. The airline may not be able to offer you in-flight food that satisfies your taste and nutritional needs. Do not in indignation send your food back to the chef. These scenarios are as common as mud, and, if permitted to do so, they can turn a person of even disposition into an embittered wretch.
Getting to your final destination is your goal. Regard all attendant hassles en route as a rite of passage, like your passport, necessary to your development as a world-class traveler.
IN RESIDENCE (statements 5, 16, 23, 24, 25). A few words about hotel rooms: Some are comfortable, some are not. Hotel rooms do not look, smell, sound, or feel like your bedroom. If you sleep well only in your own room, you will face a period of adjustment when you begin traveling. Many PTs regard learning to sleep anywhere as a major attribute. Be patient with yourself; you will adapt because you must if you are to carry out your responsibilities on the road.
While you are on the road, certain employment amenities, heretofore considered necessities by you, may not be available to help you do your job. Some hotel rooms do not have sufficient space for a comfortable writing surface. If you need luxuries such as copying machines, receptionists, and typing services and they're not available in the hotel, you may have to search for them. Be prepared to do clerical tasks yourself if need be.
For a variety of reasons, travelers seem to eat and drink too much. For the unwary, it is a hazard of the work style. So be wary. There isn't that much good food in the whole world to make it jeopardize your waistline by eating a big meal at every sitting just because the company's paying for it.
Everyone who travels frequently acknowledges the difficulty of staying fit on the road. This view was shared by the people interviewed for this book. Teresa Felicetti said she didn't stay fit, but tried to make amends at home by starving herself and exercising more. Jeannie Cowley disliked eating out all the time, but said her consumption of food and drink increased anyway until she learned not to eat big meals each evening. Joan Segerson anticipates gaining weight on a trip, and diets before she leaves. Make your overindulgences infrequent; save them for the truly unique food you could never order at home.
For many PTs alcohol also becomes a problem on the road. Maybe you need to feel at ease in an unfamiliar place, or maybe you must socialize with business associates over drinks. If you can't say no to alcoholic beverages, you could end up feeling both embarrassed and guilty.
When you are temporarily living in a strange place, you can get lonely. Teresa, who alone or with others did not stop eagerly exploring every place she went, admits to a severe bout of loneliness. "I really only once wanted to be at home because I was missing a summer holiday weekend with my friends." Jeannie's problem was the reverse. "The lonely times were usually when I got back home. While I was traveling, there were usually other people I traveled with around me." If you are incapable of taking action to relieve loneliness- such as inviting the lone diner standing next to you at the salad bar to share your table-even a one-week trip could turn into a long time away from home and friends.
GOING HOME (statements 6, 15). On your return you have to face all the previously discussed hassles thrust upon the frequent air traveler: lines, noise, rushing passengers. With just one trip under your belt, it's already easier, which is good because you are probably more tired than when you started. The emotional charge that drove you initially may be gone. And that's dangerous because even though you're headed home, your trip is not over.
At the least, your employer will want a completed expense report accompanied by receipts. Company policy may require a completed expense report within a few working days of your return. You may also have to submit a written trip report varying in complexity and length based on the nature and objective of your trip. If your mindset tells you the trip is over, but your company's policies require paperwork, you have to adjust your attitude.
REPORTING (statements 11,13). To you the trip is over, and all you want is some time to fill out your expense and trip report and start your next project. It is quite likely that greater numbers of people than usual will want to talk with you. To your boss and peers, the results of your trip are just becoming clear and perhaps the focal point for actions they will take to capture new business or to provide service to an existing customer. Consequently, your written trip report may become the basis for a semiformal presentation to management. In addition, your co-workers may need to discuss the aspects of your trip that apply to them. You're ready to start on new projects but the "old" one won't let GO. You have to be available to those who need to know what you've learned.
'DECOMPRESSION (statements 2, 7). The need to decompress after a trip (to relax oneself from the pressures of modern travel)exists but you shouldn't group everything so you can rest If you've over reacted to the stress of traveling, you may want to spend some time merely breathing in and breathing out. However, you are expected from carry on your work because an employee who needs two days of rest after every trip becomes a liability. Consequently, it's important that you smooth the highs and lows of each trip.
When you reconnect with friends, you may be highly enthused about an interesting side trip to a well-known museum or the famous television star who sat two tables away in a trendy New York restaurant. Don't be surprised if their interest is polite but distant lives have continued while you far away and travel-related events so meaningful to you may be impossible to communicate to someone who didn't share the experience. Even your family may not be receptive to your fond description of a place you've visited because they feel excluded from its "glamour." How you satisfy your need for decompression will be a major factor in your success as a PT.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN (statements 14, 18). Waiting a few days to launder the clothes you used on the trip seems of mini scule importance. It can cause problems, though, if you are unexpectedly requested to hit the road again. Maintaining your clothing-including washing, ironing, dry cleaning, replacing missing buttons, re-stitching hems-means you solve in advance a handful of potential problems the next time you go.
Do not be discouraged. The test in this chapter is not meant to discourage you. If you have the desire to make the necessary investments in time and effort, you can achieve the traveling careers of anyone profiled in this book. The test is intended to introduce you to the typical encounters with people, places, and things experienced by frequent travelers.
The rewards range from developing a global perspective of the world's inhabitants to achieving maturity and inner perspective. Listen to Becky Alkire: "I think getting to see how other people live helps you understand them better. You become less prejudiced. The people in Korea were terrific-kind, hardworking, friendly and appreciative. I feel it also helped me be more confident and aggressive and not so self-conscious." Jeannie Cowley says, "I had to learn to be more outgoing when I got home, to take the time to call my friends. It made me grow up and gain more confidence in myself."
To the determined, who know they are destined to travel, the test merely shows the need to develop the art of under reaction. Knowing you are free to not over react, to not emphasize the negative to the exclusion of the positive is the beginning of becoming a successful traveler. If you are unable to develop the appropriate emotional balancing act, you may never encounter travel experiences so strong in their charms, so positively addictive, that your life will be permanently changed.
We assume you found the test no obstacle to your goal. You want to travel and you're willing to work hard to do so. But before you use this book to find the employer who will pay for your earnest effort, chapter 2 discusses the style you might want to assume while searching out your optimal employer.
FIRST JOB- Jeannie Cowley
"My first job out of school not only took me overseas, it took me to adulthood! I learned a lot about other cultures, but I learned more about taking responsibility for my own life." Going away to college was the only traveling Jeannie had done before traveling to other parts of the world. Her first job was to train people to use special telephones made by Northern Telecom.
"I was apprehensive at first. Before I left on my first overseas trip, people kept talking to me about how dangerous it was, and how you couldn't walk the streets at night. We stayed in the little Korean town of Osan where anybody could have walked around. That was a great feeling. The people were so friendly.
"The first couple of trips, there were always three or four of us. I remember one rainy afternoon in particular when a bunch of us had gone to Seoul- we got lost and wandered for hours looking for someone who spoke English. It was scary but we made it back eventually. After that, I guess, we all knew we could survive, no matter what the situation. Later on, I'd go out by myself and it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I've found that people are a lot more open to you when you're traveling. I meet more people when I'm away than I do when I stay home."
Jeannie conquered another hurdle as well. When she was interviewed for the first job, her future boss asked her how she liked talking in front of large groups of people. "I just lied through my teeth," she confesses. "I said, 'Fine! I love it!' The truth was just the opposite. In college I would take a course that required a term paper in lieu of one that required an oral presentation. I made it all the way to the second semester of my senior year before I could no longer avoid giving a presentation. When I finally did have to give one to a class of thirty-two people, I despised it.
"As it turned out, the first class I taught on the job had a hundred people in it! I soon discovered, though, that knowing what I was talking about got me over my nervousness. I had worked with the product and done research on it, and I knew that all my searching and digging for information in the process of writing the course it had really prepared me. That made a difference. It doesn't bother me to get up in front of people now at all.
"I guess I grew up in many ways on that first job. For instance, I like outdoor sports. I like to swim and play tennis and water ski. The one thing that did bother me about traveling was not being away, staying fit . You can’t get much exercise unless the hotels have swimming pools or workout rooms and when you travel with a group of people, they all want to go out at night to a restaurant. By the time you sit and order drinks and talk to everybody, and order dinner, it's so late you don't feel like you have any time left for exercise. It took me a while to realize that I could say 'no.' 'No. I do not want to go out and eat tonight.' People eat too much anyway. If you think about it, when you do go out, you don't have to order an entire meal. Just order a salad.
"There were some things I never smoothed out, though, that I'd do differently now. For instance, I took my curling iron with me everywhere I went. A good haircut could have saved me that. I always had a problem getting somebody to come over and keep my plants. Little things.
"But I did pretty well with the expense reports. I know filling them out bothers a lot of people, but that never bothered me. I didn't mind doing them because I'd take the forms with me and fill it up from the room every day. If; was easy"
Sightseeing was a must for Jeannie and she made room for it. "You've got to take time to go out and do the things you enjoy-because if you don't have time to do that, a traveling job isn't worth it. You'll spend all your time in the airport and in the hotel, and they all look the same after a while."
Oddly enough, her loneliest times were when she got back home. While traveling, she was often in a group making, new friends. But back home she found it hard to keep her old friends. She managed somehow and it was difficult to stay in touch. "When I'd get back, I always went through a period when I just wanted to stay in my apartment and not go out and see anybody. The last thing you want to do is go to a restaurant when you've been eating in restaurants for two weeks.
"I had to learn to be more outgoing, when I got back from trips, and take the time to call my friends-but not talk about my travels. Most of my friends didn't have jobs that included travel, so I tried not to talk about it. I always thought they were a little bit resentful. If you say 'I'll be flying here today and then in two weeks I'll be flying there'-I think they associate it more with vacations than with work. I don't think they realized that once I was on site, I was working."
Jeannie's growing self-confidence helped her reach out more, and also made her more aware of what she wanted out of life, and how she could go about getting it. She discovered where she wanted to live ("thanks to seeing the country on somebody else's money") and what kind of career steps she could take to achieve her goals.
"One of the first business trips I took was to California. I had been there once when I was little, but I didn't remember anything about it. I fell in love with the place! And I decided then and there that I wanted to live in California. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to pick up and move out here if I hadn't been to the area on business, or had the opportunity to travel a lot. It made the process much easier and gave me the courage to realize my dream.
"I had two goals. One was to live in California, and the other was to find a job where I could learn more about the entire system for the telephones I'd been marketing, something more technical. I had learned a lot about the features of the phones themselves, but I wanted to know more. I began interviewing for positions in the California area that would give me that opportunity. I was considering one in San Francisco, when this job in Long Beach came through, so I took it. I'm a sales engineer for Northern Telecom now, and I've had to learn a lot more about the whole system since I'm working directly with the sales department giving them technical support. When the sales people get a bid, or a request for a bid from a company, I configure the system for them, answer all the technical questions, and price the system. There isn't a lot of travel involved in this job, but I'm getting really good experience from it. I eventually want to get back into a job where I'm traveling more again, and this job should make me more marketable in the long run. I think from this position I'll be able to move into a sales job.
"I'm very happy I moved here. I'm living right across from the beach. Actually, there's a street and a parking lot in between me and the beach, but my place looks out right onto it. I'm renting an apartment in an older house that s been turned into five apartments, and I like that. The people here are more friendly than they'd be in a big apartment complex. If s a lot easier to meet people in a smaller place.
"Also my social life is different than it was in Dallas, and that suits me. Dallas is a fairly dressy place and the people dress up to go out. Here it's a very casual environment. You come home from work and put on your blue jeans and then, lots of times, the neighbors stop by to ask if you want to 'walk up and get some dinner.' (There's a long row of shops and little restaurants just two blocks from where I live.) So we walk up together. Or they'll ask if I want to go to the beach. When I first moved out here, I went to the beach every weekend. Now that if s gotten cooler, I haven't gone as much to swim, but we take long walks on it."
This is what this young woman from South Carolina, who grew up in the course of her travels and learned to go for what she wanted, calls the good life.
THE DEDICATED PROFESSIONAL- Jeani M. Alonzo-Adams
Not even earthquakes shake Jeani's equipoise or self-confidence. As a resident of Anchorage, Alaska, she speaks of them almost casually as she describes the city's neighborhoods. "Almost all the homes up here are wood. That’s because of the earthquakes. Bricks would crumble-they settle-and we have the quakes quite often. Just little ones, though, that shake our house much like a sonic boom does. Of course sometimes they're bad. We had one that was about 5.0 on the Richter Scale a while ago. But there have been no disasters since the Good Friday earthquake in '64. That one pretty much demolished the whole city.
"My husband and I live in a three bedroom, tri-level cedar house about twenty miles from town in a remote subdivision. We have about a half acre of land, but the state park is our back yard, which makes it beautiful. We also bought a lot on the Kenai River, and we go down there once a week in the summer. (We both travel, but we usually spend our weekends together.) The hunting and fishing are fantastic where we live, and we also enjoy the hiking. We do that a lot.
"I usually don't exercise when I'm on the road. I'm in meetings all day long, and by evening I'm usually pretty tired. So there's a real problem staying fit. At home I try to eat light, and work out with weights and ride an exercise bike. I also do some aerobics. The spa we both go to is very social. Fitness is a big thing in Anchorage, especially in the winter when there's so much snow and darkness. You have to do something to stay sane. We only get about seven hours of light in the winter.
"But we have twenty hours of sunlight in the summer! Then Anchorage is beautiful. Green and lush and lovely, with parks everywhere, filled with beautiful flowers. Our summer temperatures are normally in the 60s, and although we usually get a lot of rain, we haven't had much the last few summers."
Jeani does not feel her move to Alaska was difficult, except perhaps the first few months. She had married the week before moving, she had a new job, and she was far from home. But the countryside, hunting, fishing, and weather all reminded her of her home state of Montana. "It's a culture shock for the people from Texas, I'll tell you, but it seemed like home to me.
In Missoula, where Jeani grew up with her two sisters and three brothers, she had a happy adolescence. "I've had an excellent life. In fact I've felt blessed my whole life. I'm the oldest, and with both my parents being in education it was always assumed that we would go on to college. My father taught at my school, so of course he knew how I was doing at: everything; and I think he pushed me more than he did the other children because he felt I had pretty good potential. He wanted me to go into medicine because he always wanted a daughter or son who was a doctor. That's what I started in, but then I decided that it wasn't realty-what I wanted.
"In high school I belonged to a modern dance group, but basic from that I didn't get involved with many things. School came easy to me and always had good study habits, which helped. I'd never put anything off immediately. I think I learned to manage my time through my study habits because I'm still that way. I've always been an organized person, The only thing I never organized when I was growing up was my room, It was a mess. But I don't like clutter at all. Clutter and I do not get along!
"Another thing that has helped with my work is the fact that I can work on three or four projects at once-do a little bit on one and then switch to another. Some people can't do that. They have to sit down with one project and do it until it's finished, put it away, and do another. I find it doesn't bother me to do several at once."
Jeani attended the University of Montana for a year and a half, and then decided to take a winter off. "One of my good friends talked me into going to Sun Valley, Idaho. That’s where I met my husband. He had finished college, and was working as a waiter. So we skied for a quarter, and came home."
She switched to Montana Tech in Butte, Montana. "It's a different atmosphere over in Butte, and it had an effect on me. I grew up at the tail end of the '60s generation. During my years in high school Missoula was quite radical, and I got involved in all that. In fact, I guess I was what you might call a 'hippie.' But in engineering school in Butte, I got very conservative. I used to be a Democrat, but I'm leaning more toward the Republicans every day. I don't know if that's a reflection of my financial situation or not. But I still like to think I'm more liberal than most engineers. They can be very stodgy."
With a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering and a 3.7 grade point average, Jeani had no difficulty finding work when she graduated. QiJ was booming at that time, and she had eight job offers without leaving campus. (Times are different now.) She chose to take a position with ARCO Alaska as a reservoir engineer.
"ARCO Alaska takes care of all the Alaska holdings for ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company) and is a subsidiary, but it is its own separate company. Within the organization there are three different kinds of petroleum engineers. A reservoir engineer studies the long term effect on the reservoir, and determines how to get the most oil out. The operations engineer (the position Jeani holds today) runs the field day-to-day, making sure all the wells are producing to their maximum capacity. If something is wrong with the well, the operations engineer does something called a 'work-over' on it, and 'runs the economics.' The drilling engineer is responsible for the actual drilling of the well. He also completes the well, which means he puts in the steel casing and tubing for oil production."
Jeani had not taken any computer science courses until her junior year in college, and then only two, so she felt her background in computers was limited. As perverse as fate can be, in her first job she used the computer all day. The company trained her, however, with excellent courses, and by using the computer every day, the work soon came easily. She did not do any programming-that was done by the company's research group-but she ran the programs that the company used to "enhance" (get the maximum oil recovery from) their fields.
The field Jeani worked was Prudhoe Bay, the largest field in the United States, located on the North Slope of Alaska. It was discovered in 1969 and has produced billions of barrels of oil since 1977.
The programs Jeani ran were sophisticated computer simulations. Using the computer, her job was to predict the future of the oil field in order to discover how much oil, water, and gas it would produce, and what its pressure would be at a future date. Armed with this information, she tried to devise ways to enhance oil recovery.
"All this computer analysis and simulation meant sitting at a terminal all day. The first year I wasn't thrilled about computers. They didn't interest PT Joy Mullett at the Alaskan pipeline near Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo by Joy Mullett)
me at all. But I knew that that was my job for the next two years, so I'd better get interested in it. But it gets old after a while, sitting at a computer all the time. It makes your back and your eyes ache. So I asked to move. Luckily, our management believes you need both Reservoir and Operations before you can be an effective manager, and they were heartily in favor of it. Now I'm a lead engineer, and I have two engineers working for me.
"My day starts with a ride into town with my husband to my office building. We drive together because he needs the car during the day. He's a sales rep and travels a lot, too. When I'm at the Slope in the summer I wear lightweight clothes, maybe a down vest, jeans, and tennis shoes. But in the winter I have on long underwear, down overalls, a turtleneck and a down parka. As a reservoir engineer my job was done almost exclusively in the office, but now I go out to the Slope, and it gets cold. Usually about 30° to 40° below without the wind chill. Some days with the wind chill it's down to 60° to 70° below. And it's dark in the winter, almost all day long, for about three months.
"Although I spend two or three days at a time at the Slope when I go (which is usually once a month, but every two weeks maximum) it hasn't bothered me. I think it might if I were the typical Slope worker-they spend seven days on and seven days off. Of course, they are paid well, and they usually travel on their week off. A lot of them live in Seattle or down in the 'lower forty-eight,' and they go there or to Hawaii. And they use a lot of suntanning beds, so they don't look white all the time. Few Slope workers do hard physical labor. It's all computerized and automated, and the drilling rigs are enclosed and heated. People would never survive the climate otherwise.
"It takes a special type of person to move to Alaska. People come here from the oil states, Texas and Oklahoma, but there are a whole lot from Washington state and Montana. They like the weather, they like to ski, and they want to be in a place like Alaska. They don't want to go south. Almost all of them are interested in staying in the Rocky Mountains, especially the ones from Montana. The people who have moved here are those who want whaf s here. Money doesn't mean that much to them. But maybe that's because they know the oil industry pays well, and they don't have to worry about it!
"I think petroleum engineering is the number one field for money right now. If s been that way for about eight years. Starting salaries are $30-31,000. With salaries like that, a couple that works can get fantastic things going for them. I know some couples who have combined incomes of $170,000.
"I recruit for the company now. That’s the chance I have to travel once a year. I enjoy it. If s really fun-though your voice starts to go after three days. When I graduated, oil was booming and it wasn't difficult to find jobs. But now if s not that way at all. If s difficult. Students coming out of college now are looking for just about any job in the oil industry.
"Many candidates are interested in overseas jobs and the first question they ask me is 'Where can I go overseas? What can I do?' Most overseas positions are drilling jobs. We only send highly technical, skilled people because the governments there want to hire their own people for the roustabout, roughneck type of work, the kind that can be done by unskilled laborers. Once the oil is drilled, they bring in their own people to manage the oil field.
"We've recently talked to about 150 students, and there were about fifteen women in the group. The ratio of women to men is increasing every year. When I worked in the Reservoir Group the women constituted about 30 percent, which was pretty unusual. Now, in the Operations Group I'm the only woman among twenty engineers.
"At Kuparuk, where I'm working now, we operate the field, but if s co-owned with other companies. So when something has to be done, we have to write an economic feasibility estimate, run the economics, and get it to the co-owners so they can sign it too. This all has to be done as quickly as possible. When we have meetings with co-owners to get approvals, we usually meet in a centrally convenient place. I've been to Seattle quite often, and to Denver, or I go to San Francisco, where SOHIO's headquarters are. I traveled once a month on trips like that when I was in the Reservoir Group.
"Conventions offer travel opportunities, too. Once a year there's the Offshore Technical Conference in Houston for instance, and I just got back from the conference for the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
"I also travel to go to school. Our company gives us one 'out-of-house' seminar a year, which is industry sponsored. Everybody goes to these, and they last a week or two. We also have in-house seminars run by the company. I went to a week-long economics seminar this year, for example, at the Colorado School of Mines. Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, all the oil-producing cities are favorite locations for these seminars.
'Travel is still fun. I enjoy getting out and doing something different, though if s not for play by any means. This may sound odd, but the greatest high I get from a business trip is when I've presented something well and done a good job. Like I said, my father had every hope for me- and I'm not going to disappoint him!"