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Vietnam vet Bob Nadeau of Lynn worked his way into a job

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff/File 2010

Bob Nadeau , Lynn

Bob Nadeau’s first step toward a new job was a volunteer internship at TransGroup in Chelsea. He was 62, a Vietnam-era veteran who served six years in the Navy. He had worked in sales most of his professional life, and had been laid off for 15 months.

“It got my foot in the door,” said Nadeau, now 64, who lives in Lynn.

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Nadeau is now a logistics manager at the transportation planning company. He is often on the phone and computer, helping customers plan to ship goods across the globe.

“We can arrange the pickup and delivery of anything, from containers of apparel and sneakers to boats,” Nadeau said.

The job is a new world for Nadeau, who worked for decades as a salesman in the plastics industry.

“It was a learning curve,” said Nadeau, who grew up in Salem. “You have to be careful. One wrong click of the mouse, you could send something across the world, where it’s not supposed to go.”

He was laid off from his $65,000-a-year job as a sales manager on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Unemployment was crushing for a man whose working life began when he shined shoes at age 10.

“I just could never remember not working,” said Nadeau, who still has that shoeshine kit.

He collected unemployment benefits, and teamed with a veterans counselor at the North Shore Career Center in Salem. He worked on his resume and interviewing skills and scoured the want ads. Then he knocked on the door of TransGroup.

“I told them ‘I want to learn this. I’ll do it for free,’ ” he said. “I traveled around with a couple of sales reps.”

He was hired full time in 2010. He thinks his status as a veteran may have helped.

“Even though I wasn’t in the current conflicts, I do think today some people like to do things for veterans.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at KMcCabe@Globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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