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What should I do?

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May 9, 2011 12:03:15 AM

Hello.

Here, I have this dilemma.

I do not know what to do with my life. Simply put it: I do not know what job I want.

My parents want me to go to school to become an engineer..I do not think I can do it. They give these talks that make you want to be peppy, but I do not see myself making the world a better place. I do not seem myself performing with other engineers to make something better or innovate. :( 

On the other side, friends tell me I can be whatever I want to be. Well, what is that?

Back to my parents. They say that I will be selling myself short if I do not go through engineering. Also, that there are more opportunities in engineering than many other jobs in the US.

Over the last 4 years, I wanted to become an airline pilot, but my mother stopped me on that one and said it is too unstable of a job and that I wont be able to do it. They wouldn't even support me if I still wanted to become a pilot.



What do you guys think? I have tried the Internet, all I get are these stupid tests that give results like being an are teachers or a human rights activist and they want my address and all my information. They do not really hep me either.

From your guys experience, what should I do?

Thanks,

Dogman_1234

P.S. Please do not give me the 'You can do anything' crap line, it wont help me at all.

More about : question

May 9, 2011 3:19:26 AM

Well, coming from someone who is graduating in Mechanical Engineering in less than a week: Engineering is a very challenging (but rewarding in my opinion) field and if you don't have enthusiasm to do it, it will be a very rough four years of school (and life). That said, 'engineering' is an extremely broad term covering everything from computers, to aerospace, to biology, and to a million other things.

I know this may sound a little dumb, but what do you enjoy doing in your free time? You obviously enjoy coming to these forums and helping to solve problems, which is a critical step in engineering. However, careers are a very complex and inherently personal thing. I remember one of my teachers telling me how she could have gone and gotten a job in industry (science or engineering) however she got such fulfillment out of teaching that it was really the only choice for her, despite the cut in pay.

So, I'm afraid I don't have a clear answer for you, only more questions. I do agree with your parents that there are a ton of opportunities and many different fields in engineering, However that does not mean it is the best choice for you. Have you gotten a chance to look much into what 'engineers' actually do? Many people I know have limited or incorrect views of what actual engineers do. For example, when most people hear of my major (Mechanical) they think of working on automobiles or HVAC. However I have done neither in my 4 years, instead working primarily in aerospace and aerospace propulsion (with aircraft engine turbomachinery being my topic for Masters research).

Hope that helps some in starting you on the path to make your (very difficult and stressful) decision.
May 9, 2011 4:09:34 AM

Thanks.

Anyone else? Wisdom is welcome...
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May 9, 2011 4:13:16 PM

Regarding your parents:
All parent want the best for you, thats what they are here for - to push you when you arn't pushing yourself. Realize that and don't be too stressed out by their attempts at motivation.

Now for the squishy center:
You can be ANYTHING you want. The hard part is knowing what your getting into and accepting the gains and losses for that choice. Your life will be drastically different if you go into IT versus going to school for engineering. Parents, or older adults are generally better at seeing the paths and pitfalls for projected journeys and when you see all the possibilities, it can be scary, even more so to subject a kid to an uncertain future.

Example: pilot. Its fun flying? Depends. I see a low paying job, long hours, extremely boring job (autopilot, no view, ... and and stressful. 15 years down the line, your burned out, but you have a house and a car, maybe a kid. What then? What happens if the airline goes out of business? The field is pretty saturated, hard to get into. Are you ready to move to another state to find another low paying job? Have you learned enough skills to stay within the industry but move to other jobs?

Is this a bad outcome? Depends on your choices. If your willing to be loose, free from tie-downs and ownership of "stuff" then you can try anything with minimal risk. This is usually the time when your at home with your parents but some people make a life out of it and are very happy.

What a Masters in Engineering does is give you the money to ground yourself and feel stable. It allows you to choose jobs, locations to live, your free time in some cases. These things become more important the older you get.

I gave similar advice to a younger cousin of mine as he exited high school. He didn't feel like college was right for him but was willing to try. He had also attempted his shot at sports, culinary arts, and various other adventures but couldn't settle on what made him happy AND gave him the freedom to support himself. At this point, he asked me, "what should I do?" I told him he was old enough to accept the consequences of his choices and could do anything he wanted in that regards. He didn't know what he wanted to do, but knew what he wanted from life and was willing to work hard for it. In the end, he chose to enlist in the coast guard and has achieved much of his life goals, including being happy.


This really is the time for failure. Fail often and fail spectacularly. This is a good thing and you will learn more about life in your failures then any success you may have later on.

May 11, 2011 5:45:51 AM

My advice to you would largely echo what EXT64 has said; think about what you enjoy. Studying something you enjoy is likely to lead to a job that you enjoy.

I'm a software developer by profession but I went to University to do maths initially. My adviser suggested that I'd do some Computer Science modules as well as maths. Eventually I realized that I much preferred Computer Science and made that my degree.

However in high school when I did Computing I couldn't program at all; I just copied from classmates. I wouldn't have believed you if you told me I'd be coding for a living in the future!

Let me tell you something that might help you. Not every engineer changes the world. That's just marketing spam to try and lure you in; obviously it didn't work on you! The truth of the matter is only a small percentage of engineers reach this level. Everyone else just makes a living for themselves and at the end of day this is what working is about. It's means to an end.

In summary:

1) Think about the things you enjoy
2) Don't be put off by thinking you can't be the best because plenty of others aren't
3) If you do attend College/University try and take different subjects that you are interested in. Some places will let you change degree in the earlier years providing you've been careful to select the correct classes.
May 11, 2011 12:41:45 PM

Rusting hits a really good point. Although in my case I did not, most people switch majors or concentrations at least once in college. That is because it is nearly impossible to know what 'clicks' with you right out of high school. You never know when a professor, project, research, or class will fit and inspire you to go in a direction.
May 11, 2011 7:51:56 PM

How old are you? It's very normal to have a big dilemna when deciding what to do with your live... I mean some people in their 50's still haven't decided.

On another note, don't get pushed into a field just because others want you to do it. While engineering could be a good field to get into, if it's not something you're interested in, you will not enjoy it one bit. While others may argue with this point, being an engineer (whether it be mech, electr, structural, civil, etc.) isn't always as glamorous as it sounds. Most engineers won't be "making the world a better place" as you put it. Most just spend the day reading reports, creating specifications, and doing some sort of analysis. Although it can still be a very rewarding career, I'm not saying it wouldn't be. I myself am in mining engineering (not as an engineer) so I have some experience with the topic.

I wouldn't put too much stock in the online career tests. Most are actually laughable because they can consist of such as obvious questions as: "Do you like to answer phone calls", "Would you have a problem cleaning after other's for a living". You get my point. Take some time and try and think of what activities in life interest you the most, including what hobbies you enjoy and what interests you have.

While it's true that you can do anything.... you have to find what it is you actually want to do, otherwise you will spend your life miserable like many people.

Hope this helps in any way.
May 11, 2011 9:57:44 PM

so, engineering is not a glamorous career full of opportunity?
May 11, 2011 10:23:05 PM

More than likely, what ever career you choose, you will not be doing it long. Life changes as you mature and find other things that interest you. I would say, if you don't know what you want, then follow your folks advise, they won't steer you wrong. Just be sure to come out well rounded when you graduate. ie: foreign languages, musical intruments, computers, social communications, etc.
May 11, 2011 10:37:13 PM

dogman_1234 said:
so, engineering is not a glamorous career full of opportunity?


You get out of life what you put into it? If you skate by, get Cs in all your classes and then graduate by the skin of your teeth, then your options will be limited. If you do well in classes, apply yourself and reach, then there are many chances for you.

As a Mechanical Engineer out of college for 5 years now, I'm not complaining about my situation.
May 11, 2011 11:42:55 PM

What about aviation?
Anonymous
May 12, 2011 1:12:15 AM

Damn Dog, Ive been watching your posts for a long long time, do not stress to much about what you are going to do, you are young, very young and as such have a lot of discovery about yourself still to do, I don't mean to sound patronizing even though it is!

All I can talk from is my experience, I like you did not know what I was going to do with my life at your age, so I did not worry about it, my friends went off to University , and Colleges or Apprenticeships and my parents pulled their hair out because they did not want to see me WASTE my life and they thought they new what i was good at and what course i should follow, but I did my own thing, that was to have as much FUN as I could....

I did, I partied like it was 1989 all the way through till around 26 yrs old, I qualified as a mechanic through those party years (God knows how, guess cause my Dad was a mechanic I just knew how, not through any study I can assure you)

I stopped working in the Trade once I qualified, Hated it, went to work in Hotels instead, fell in love with computers, got a job working for a Software company that does Reservation systems for Hotels and EPOS solutions for Hotels and restaurants as a Systems Installer and Trainer, worked for them for a few years and realized I hate working for other people, but love everything IT, so Studied on my own, evolved through experience, and set up my own business which I happily run!

20 Years on from where you are, did I know this is where I would be, No, and my friends, well most of them are not using the qualifications they got after school, instead found something they preferred better, Life changes, you change over time, don't take it to seriously...the best advice I can give you, is do something you really really enjoy, I mean something you have a passion for, because you have to do it day in and day out.

From all your posts i have read, It seems you really like tech, maybe that is a starting point, an area to learn now (Like your A+ you are doing, BTW set the exam, nothing like pressure to get you going) while you decide what to do with your life, remember there is no rush, no right or wrong, and parents are just parents, they want whats best for you, but don't know exactly what that is exactly like you don't know what that is.

Do I regret becoming a qualified mechanic..No even though I don't earn money from it, I still service and Repair all the Family Cars!
May 13, 2011 12:12:33 PM

dogman_1234 said:
so, engineering is not a glamorous career full of opportunity?

engineering is hardworking career, only glamorous if you get to work in R&D and come up with something really good, then you'll get all the fame and glamour. Until then, engineering is a rewarding field to those who have the passion about what they are doing and a steel ass to put in the hours to do the good job.

It's a bit tight to get into the field with no experience at all, but there's opportunities out there that let you get your foot in the door, after that it's an easy take off, just need to keep looking ahead.
May 13, 2011 12:45:59 PM

AntiZig said:
engineering is hardworking career, only glamorous if you get to work in R&D and come up with something really good, then you'll get all the fame and glamour. Until then, engineering is a rewarding field to those who have the passion about what they are doing and a steel ass to put in the hours to do the good job.

It's a bit tight to get into the field with no experience at all, but there's opportunities out there that let you get your foot in the door, after that it's an easy take off, just need to keep looking ahead.


I agree with your statements, but at the same time I work for a company that makes geological survey equipment and we have 2 types of engineers and assembly folk(I find)....
Ones that have a degree in the field, and then those that start here soldering battery packs to PCB's(A pain in the ass job as ive been told) from there they just work their way up the production ladder.

Personally I dropped out of school after 1 year, I do have several certs though.....But the point is I like my job and Im good at it, much better then most of my classmates whom are just graduating now thousand of dollars in debt. Be happy do something you like and maybe you can make a career out of it.
May 13, 2011 2:04:39 PM

I have a question for you.... if you don't even know what an engineer does, then why would you be tempted to go down that career path? I have a few helpful suggestions for you when trying to pick something:

- Look around to family and friends and see what they do for a living. Could you see yourself having any of those careers, or would you enjoy doing any of them? Doing this is great because if you do find one that you are particular interested in, then you can ask the person questions and things like (what schooling they needed, starting wage, if they enjoy it, etc.). It's good to have information from someone who actually does the job, when deciding.

- Theres is nothing wrong with going to college/university for a couple of years and taking some general studies courses to try and figure out what you want to do. If you try a few design courses and don't like it then don't go any further with it, if you find one branch of courses that you like pursue it a bit further and see where it goes (these are just a few examples but you get the point). Sure it may seem like a waste, but it's not when you consider a lot of courses will be transferrable to whatever degree you decide to go with. (If you decide on a degree).
May 14, 2011 3:59:05 PM

dogman_1234 said:
Hello.

Here, I have this dilemma.

I do not know what to do with my life. Simply put it: I do not know what job I want.

My parents want me to go to school to become an engineer..I do not think I can do it. They give these talks that make you want to be peppy, but I do not see myself making the world a better place. I do not seem myself performing with other engineers to make something better or innovate. :( 

On the other side, friends tell me I can be whatever I want to be. Well, what is that?

Back to my parents. They say that I will be selling myself short if I do not go through engineering. Also, that there are more opportunities in engineering than many other jobs in the US.

Over the last 4 years, I wanted to become an airline pilot, but my mother stopped me on that one and said it is too unstable of a job and that I wont be able to do it. They wouldn't even support me if I still wanted to become a pilot.



What do you guys think? I have tried the Internet, all I get are these stupid tests that give results like being an are teachers or a human rights activist and they want my address and all my information. They do not really hep me either.

From your guys experience, what should I do?

Thanks,

Dogman_1234

P.S. Please do not give me the 'You can do anything' crap line, it wont help me at all.


I would recommend setting down and writing out why you want to be a pilot in the first place. List the things about the job that you would enjoy and things that you wouldn't be too crazy over. Now find some jobs that relate to that field and have the same or similar good things but maybe have less bad things (better salary, more jobs, etc).

Example: Bob wants to be a rock star. The main reason he wants to be a rock star is the music and the main down side for him is job availability. Bob does research and finds that there are many jobs (and degrees) that he can pursue for music which is much more stable than rock star. Bob gets a job at a recording company where he meets rock stars on a daily basis.

Assuming that you have some interest or ability in the sciences (or your parents probably wouldn't be pushing you to it) and your post about wanting to be a pilot I am thinking maybe aerodynamic engineer might be a place to start looking.
May 14, 2011 4:52:04 PM

I really want to fly the bloody things....
May 16, 2011 3:33:19 PM

Dogman, you have had a long of good responses from thoughtful posters. Do you have any feed back for them beyond a one-liner?
May 17, 2011 4:35:02 AM

dogman_1234 said:
Hello.

Here, I have this dilemma.

I do not know what to do with my life. Simply put it: I do not know what job I want.

My parents want me to go to school to become an engineer..I do not think I can do it. They give these talks that make you want to be peppy, but I do not see myself making the world a better place. I do not seem myself performing with other engineers to make something better or innovate. :( 

On the other side, friends tell me I can be whatever I want to be. Well, what is that?

Back to my parents. They say that I will be selling myself short if I do not go through engineering. Also, that there are more opportunities in engineering than many other jobs in the US.

Over the last 4 years, I wanted to become an airline pilot, but my mother stopped me on that one and said it is too unstable of a job and that I wont be able to do it. They wouldn't even support me if I still wanted to become a pilot.



What do you guys think? I have tried the Internet, all I get are these stupid tests that give results like being an are teachers or a human rights activist and they want my address and all my information. They do not really hep me either.

From your guys experience, what should I do?

Thanks,

Dogman_1234

P.S. Please do not give me the 'You can do anything' crap line, it wont help me at all.


Outlaw29

Don't want to tell you what to do. Would like to offer some suggestions and food for thought. I am 64 years old and still do not know what I want to do when I grow up. Do know a lot of things I don't want to do. I have done many things to include computer repairman (Trained by US Army) Army helecopter pilot, garment cutter, production manager, tech support both on site hardware tech. and telephone tech. support, construction, stained class craftsman and fabricator, apartment manager, condo-complex manager, and currently part time produce clerk in a grocery store. I need to work to make money and stay sane. I would ask you to consider a tour of military service. Talk with a recruiter and see if you can qualify for flight school. If so you get to be pilot, Mom and Dad are off your back and when you finish tour of service you have GI bill for 4 years of school if that is what you want to do. You get out of house, away from parents telling you what you should do ( military will tell you what to do but not who to be other than be a man) and maybe get to travel a little. In 14 and half years in Army, got to 48 of 50 states and 23 countries. (Hint if you choose service, find out how to be flight schedule officer, they plan where to sent flights for trainning.) If response is wars going on, my answer is you could get run over by bus crossing the street. No dis-respect but your problem is not what to do....it is making choice to live your own life. Wish you luck and will be rooting for you what ever you choose to do.
May 18, 2011 3:56:18 AM

hah im in the same place as you dogman. I just dont know what to do, I wish life was easy so i could party everyday and have fun with out wasting hours working. Maybe one day :) 
July 9, 2011 11:18:32 AM

Its really nice to see that you have discussed your issue here.
First of all i would like to ask all the parents to please listen to their children when they have reached the age of taking decisions for themselves.At least for their career decisions as some have been living with an ideal job in their minds and just sharing it with their parents just to hear a NO in return will leave them shattered!
Now the most important thing is that you should keep going with what you really want to be.Take some time out from your daily routine and go for a search on the internet and explore some job descriptions that fit for your degree title.Try to search more into the roots and when you think that it is of your interest just search for jobs related to that field.I have switched a lot of jobs trust me! It wasn't easy for me too but at the end i got what i needed and i am pretty comfortable with it!
Good luck for your future!


______________________
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July 16, 2011 5:53:53 AM

CompTIA_Rep said:
Regarding your parents:
All parent want the best for you, thats what they are here for - to push you when you arn't pushing yourself. Realize that and don't be too stressed out by their attempts at motivation.

Now for the squishy center:
You can be ANYTHING you want. The hard part is knowing what your getting into and accepting the gains and losses for that choice. Your life will be drastically different if you go into IT versus going to school for engineering. Parents, or older adults are generally better at seeing the paths and pitfalls for projected journeys and when you see all the possibilities, it can be scary, even more so to subject a kid to an uncertain future.

Example: pilot. Its fun flying? Depends. I see a low paying job, long hours, extremely boring job (autopilot, no view, ... and and stressful. 15 years down the line, your burned out, but you have a house and a car, maybe a kid. What then? What happens if the airline goes out of business? The field is pretty saturated, hard to get into. Are you ready to move to another state to find another low paying job? Have you learned enough skills to stay within the industry but move to other jobs?

Is this a bad outcome? Depends on your choices. If your willing to be loose, free from tie-downs and ownership of "stuff" then you can try anything with minimal risk. This is usually the time when your at home with your parents but some people make a life out of it and are very happy.

What a Masters in Engineering does is give you the money to ground yourself and feel stable. It allows you to choose jobs, locations to live, your free time in some cases. These things become more important the older you get.

I gave similar advice to a younger cousin of mine as he exited high school. He didn't feel like college was right for him but was willing to try. He had also attempted his shot at sports, culinary arts, and various other adventures but couldn't settle on what made him happy AND gave him the freedom to support himself. At this point, he asked me, "what should I do?" I told him he was old enough to accept the consequences of his choices and could do anything he wanted in that regards. He didn't know what he wanted to do, but knew what he wanted from life and was willing to work hard for it. In the end, he chose to enlist in the coast guard and has achieved much of his life goals, including being happy.


This really is the time for failure. Fail often and fail spectacularly. This is a good thing and you will learn more about life in your failures then any success you may have later on.

I couldnt agree more
!