Recently an impressive young man who grew up in this area, but is now living and working in another state, called to ask for advice as to whether he should take a job offered by one of Maine’s gubernatorial candidates, or if he should look for another job here.

I was delighted to learn that he wants to move back to Maine. To help him make that decision, I shared my work experience with him.

After graduating from the University of Maine, I took a job with a Maine bank working in their Rockland branch.

At UMaine, I was both president of the Young Republicans Club and an avid anti-Vietnam War protestor. In Rockland, when I heard about the big anti-war march scheduled in Washington, D.C., I decided to participate. But when I asked the bank’s branch manager for permission to leave at noon on Friday in order to get to Bowdoin College to catch a bus to D.C., he refused.

So I went to lunch on Friday and proceeded to Bowdoin anyway, and when I returned to work on Monday, I was fired.

That turned out to be a great blessing. I ended up getting hired to work on Bill Cohen’s first congressional campaign, which launched my career in politics.

After Bill’s campaign, I sold real estate in Winthrop for two years, and in the second year, also managed Dave Emery’s first congressional campaign. We astonished everyone, including me, by upsetting the incumbent congressman, and I worked for Dave for the next eight years, going back and forth from Maine to D.C.

I loved my job, but in 1982 Dave decided to run for the Senate and lost to George Mitchell. That was another major turning point for me, as I immediately formed and incorporated my own business, Mainely Marketing Inc., taking on lots of interesting projects, from helping eight rural Maine towns create comprehensive plans to working on referenda and candidate campaigns. I also developed a real expertise in raising money, something I still enjoy today.

I also served in many public offices, from county commissioner to town council to selectman to planning board. I still love local government.

Having served on the board of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, including a stint as president, in the 1980s, I contracted with SAM to help them out of a challenging time in 1991. I enjoyed that so much that eventually I agreed to serve as their executive director and lobbyist, although I was never a SAM employee. I signed annual contracts specifying the services I’d provide.

Throughout the 18 years I worked for SAM, I also occasionally took on other tasks. And I always worked from home, where I was most productive.

With my own independent business, I could structure my work to have plenty of time to spend with Linda and the kids, particularly in the summer, when we traveled the country and also spent lots of time at our north woods camp. And of course, I had lots of time to hunt and fish, and especially enjoyed fishing in Quebec, Montana, and Alaska.

And then, seven years ago, I left SAM to write full time, another wonderful experience, including the travel column I did with Linda, and the four books I’ve had published.

After relating much of this to the young man, I encouraged him to take the offered job working for the gubernatorial candidate. It might last only until June, or until November, but if his candidate became our next governor, he’d have lots of job opportunities. I also assured him that the job he’d been offered, which included driving the candidate all over the state, would be fun.

And if his candidate doesn’t win, he is such an impressive young man that he’ll easily find a good job in Maine. Maybe he’ll even start his own business.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.