Kip Turner was 18 when he first applied to telecommunications company AT&T in 1973. He's 68 now and it's the only company he's ever worked with.
Speaking to CNBC Make It, the Arkansas resident, who is due to retire soon, said that he didn’t expect that he’d spend his whole career with them.
Initially, Turner wanted to be a veterinarian. He had just finished a year at Arkansas State University studying animal science but he realised that his side job as a lumber truck driver wasn't going to pay enough to pay his education fees so he decided to drop out and make the money first.
That's when he applied to AT&T and joined it as a station installer. But, despite spending 50 years in the company in various roles, Turner told the publication that he had one regret -- not being able to complete his degree even though AT&T offered education benefits to go back to college. “I would have loved to have completed an engineering degree,” he told CNBC Make It.
Turner shared that he had about eight roles during his 50-year tenure and based on his own experience, he likes to advise young professionals to not let education requirements get in the way of applying to a job that interests them. He said he joined AT&T without a bachelor’s degree and has learned everything on the job.
“I’ve been to probably 150 different training courses all over the country on everything from basic troubleshooting to microwave radio engineering, fiber optic engineering synchronization, maintenance, maintenance support for microwaves engineering,” Turner told CNBC Make It.
Another piece of advice that he often shares is to “take advantage of all of the training and education opportunities” a workplace offers, “whether it’s internal, whether it’s a tuition reimbursement, whether it’s allowing you time to go back to school,” Turner said. “It makes me wish that I had availed myself of all those years ago.”
But while Turner said that currently, he's too busy to be able to go back to college, his on-the-job learning will keep him busy until retirement when he turns 70, he added.