Interview with Jim Corder UXO Tech. This interview happened in August 2010 as we both happened to be in town at the same time. (I'm trying to catch up with Jim now. He's currently in California and has been working steady for about 3 years!)
Jim was sealing his driveway when I rolled up with a deli sandwich from Publix for each of us. I appreciate Jim's wisdom, his sense of humor and most importantly his friendship.
Jim Corder - White collar management turned UXO Technician
Jim, what is your background?
I have my B.S. in English. While in school I worked with the Southwestern Company selling books door to door in different parts of the country. Soon after graduation, I started with BellSouth (now AT&T) in the Marketing Department. After 9/11, the economy took a hit and I was downsized after 22 years. Afterward, I tried some business ventures and had various jobs, but not anything that developed into another career.
How did you find out about the UXO industry?
I remember us having breakfast at Shoney’s one morning, and lamenting to you “What now?” I was just so frustrated after interviewing so many companies and working so many different types of temporary jobs. Admittedly, my resume probably looked like so many others of folks in their fifties that had been released from their corporate jobs who were out there looking for work.
Like others, I was struggling to find a way to transition skills learned in my prior career into a new career. Thankfully, you encouraged me to look at becoming a UXO technician. With some understatement, you said, “Jim, if you can dig a hole, you can do this job!” You showed me some pictures of some of the ranges you worked, and elaborated a bit more about what the job was like. It sounded risky, but I decided to go for it!
You have no military background, no electronics background and you’ve never blown anything up. What was school like for you?
The academic part of the school was where I excelled. My challenge was the practical part, or learning the field procedures to the satisfaction of my instructors. There were several ex-military folks in the class with the type of background that proved helpful for them here. And, some folks just catch on quicker than others. It was tough, but graduating from UXO school and gaining the Tech 1 certification from Texas Engineering Extension Service is one of my proudest accomplishments.
You graduated school but then how long was it until you were working?
I was hired about 3 weeks after graduation. The verbal and written communication skills learned in my previous career proved helpful in reaching out to hiring managers with UXO companies.
If you were talking with someone about moving into the UXO field, what would you tell them?
If you are can do physical work outside in all types of weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours a day four to five days a week, are a team player, and can be away from home for various periods of time, this might be something for you to consider.
You’re almost 60 years old, when are you going back to corporate?
Thinking about going back to a corporate job just makes my skin crawl. Being a UXO Technician has given me a new lease on my employable life. I really enjoy what I do, and the people with which I work. However, if I ever decided to go back to a “normal” job, my resume would undeniably stand out with my UXO background. After all, it’s not just anybody who is trained in identifying military ordnance and how to set demolition charges!
Jim is currently working for Shaw Environmental as UXO Tech I and I have no doubt he's getting some fishing in on his weekends.