After the story of Michael Vaudreuil’s graduation from the college he cleaned at night as a custodian went viral, the job offerings poured in from around the country. Companies in places as far away as Colorado, California and Michigan wanted the Massachusetts 54-year-old to relocate to work for them.
But the company Vaudreuil has chosen attracted him because four of its employees called him, independent of one another, to discuss job opportunities. That, he said, told him something about the culture there. Then, throughout the interview process, they spoke of the importance of life experience. And although taking the job will require him and his wife to move afterall, it’s only to the next state over.
Vaudreuil, who received a degree in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute on May 14, will soon be employed by Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney as an engineer with the aerospace manufacturer’s Production Integrated Product Team.
Although Vaudreuil was open-minded about all industries, his choice of a job in aerospace brings the middle-aged father full circle. Decades ago, in 1982, Vaudreuil received an associate’s degree in aeronautical engineering but never sought a job in his chosen field.
Instead, he took up plastering work, eventually starting his own business until it went under at the onset of the 2008 economic downturn, and he lost everything. That’s when he took a job cleaning bathrooms and scrubbing chalkboards at WPI at night, and took advantage of its free tuition program by day.
It took him almost a decade to get his degree. It took him just over a month to land a dream job.
“It’s always been to me about landing a job, and when I landed a job, I felt like mission complete, and I felt the full satisfaction,” Vaudreuil said Monday. “Graduation did hold a lot of emotion — that’s trophy day, you’ve completed a journey. But there was a little bit left to do.”
On graduation day, he wrote “OLD DOG HAS NEW TRICKS” on the top of his mortarboard. Playing off that, he recently posed for a photo holding a sign that read, “OLD DOG HAS NEW JOB.”
Vaudreuil starts his new job July 11. He said the compensation and relocation package was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
He is grateful for all the attention his story has received and the outpouring of support from around the world. Outlets in Europe and Australia ran his comeback story. Having his story out there did what no résumé could, he said — it showed him as more than a man who just got his bachelor’s degree in his mid-50s.
“I got to show people who I was and what I am made of, which is hard to do on a résumé. What we did actually happened,” he said. “When people see that, you can’t show that on a résumé and carry the same emotion.”
Although the reaction to his story was mostly positive, there were a few naysayers who said he’d never get a job at his age. Hearing some of those comments pushed him even more.
“That stirred the fire in my belly,” he said. “I wanted to make sure the end of the story gets out there, and people know he actually did it.”