Kip Turner, now 68 years old, joined AT&T at the age of 18 without a bachelor’s degree and has spent his entire 50-year career with the company. Having dropped out of college after realizing the extensive schooling required to become a veterinarian, Turner sought employment in the telecommunications field through his father, who worked at Southwestern Bell Telephone. Turner started as a station installer and has since held approximately eight different roles with AT&T, including his current position as a lead product development engineer. He advises younger professionals not to let education requirements deter them from applying to jobs that interest them, as he learned everything he needed through on-the-job training.
Throughout his career, Turner has participated in numerous training courses covering a wide range of topics related to telecommunications engineering. Although he acknowledges that he missed out on leveraging AT&T’s education benefits to pursue an engineering degree, he encourages young employees to take advantage of all the training and education opportunities offered by their companies. Turner notes that tuition benefits are becoming a common work perk, with many employers offering undergraduate or graduate tuition assistance. While he personally still has access to these benefits, he is uncertain about finding the time to go back to school due to his busy personal and professional life.
Despite not having a formal engineering degree, Turner’s on-the-job learning has been invaluable in his career. He plans to continue working until retirement, likely around the age of 70 or beyond. In recent years, his role at AT&T has shifted to supporting the public sector and defense account team, allowing him to work on projects in various interesting locations. Turner emphasizes the value of hands-on experience and how it has contributed to his knowledge of AT&T wireless and cellular engineering. While acknowledging that it may have taken him longer to acquire this knowledge, he considers it to be invaluable.
In conclusion, Kip Turner’s 50-year career at AT&T serves as a testament to the value of on-the-job learning and taking advantage of training and education opportunities within a company. Despite not having a bachelor’s degree, Turner has successfully navigated through various roles and gained extensive knowledge in the telecommunications field. He advises young professionals to pursue their interests and not to let education requirements hinder them from applying for jobs. While he regrets not pursuing formal education earlier in his career, he acknowledges the increasing availability of tuition benefits offered by companies. Turner’s experience highlights the importance of continuous learning and the benefits it can bring to one’s professional growth and development.