Hard work and a viral story propels 54-year-old grad

Michael Vaudreuil, 54, lost it all in the economic meltdown of 2008. His business collapsed and he was out of a job and would soon be out of money if he hadn’t taken a part-time gig as a janitor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

That was eight years ago.

He lost his home, his life savings, and his self respect.

He’s been a janitor ever since, but, using the school’s free-tuition program, he took classes at the school and in May, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering degree, plus a minor in psychology.

It’s a feel-good story. Sort of.


He kept applying for jobs. But he’s 54. So he kept working as a janitor while he searched for work.

Then, NBC News told his story.

The job offers came flying in.

On July 11, he starts at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut.

“I’m going to quote one of my favorite movies—they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he told The Daily Herd, WPI’s newspaper. “I’m looking forward to the satisfaction and fulfillment that will come with the job.”

What if his story hadn’t gone viral? Would a 54-year-old guy with a bachelor’s degree get a job offer from Fortune 500 companies?

“I was certainly welcoming of it, because I thought it would help networking-wise,” he said. “To the degree that it took off was a bit surprising. It was almost an out-of-body experience. You see this happen, things go viral—now it’s happening to me.”

Until he moves and starts at his new job next month, Vaudreuil plans to keep cleaning.

  • PaulJ

    I got my MBA @ 40 and nada. I wonder where one gets a virus.

  • tboom

    I made a comment on another New Cut post a while back, advice along the lines of using your potential when you’re young to gain experience. Somewhere in your late-30’s or 40’s companies stop hiring based on “potential”. By the time you hit 50 the only thing that will get you hired is directly applicable work experience or, I guess, if your story going viral.

    If your work experience is no longer a marketable commodity when you’re “rightsized” at 48, you’re kind of SOL.

    After a layoff in the middle of a financial sector recession which came on the heels of 9/11, I held it together financially for a few years working night stock at a local garden center. I’ve been thankful for the fine people at that garden center every day since.

    • MrE85

      When I got laid off the 1st time, I went back to cooking, something I swore I would never do. But it paid the bills, and kept us afloat until the next offer came — a job in journalism.

      • tboom

        No job is too menial.

        Everyone I encounter while doing their job deserves my utmost respect.

  • lindblomeagles

    Although he’s certainly my inspiration, I am concerned his story had to go viral before job offers came. The man had a BA in Mechanical Engineering. That’s supposed to be an in demand field.