I feel good about what I’ve done thus far in my academic career. I’m glad I didn’t choose the easy way, and something that will force me to be a life-time learner. No pain, no gain. I’ve gained a lot from my pain (including a well-paid permanent internship). However, I don’t feel excited for school to start tomorrow. I know it’s going to be hard. I know there will be many unfair things, I know I’ll have way too many late nights. But the good things will outweigh the bad over time, where my mind stretching will guarantee my family and I peace of mind and a stable future.
These thoughts bring to me to thinking about why I chose the path I did. A lot of it was out of ignorance, maybe a little bit of wishful thinking. However, I made the choice for a few reasons. In October of 2008, the recession hit. Bridgett and I had been married for a few months, and I had taken the semester off to earn some money to pay for school in the spring. When everything dealing with the housing market, banks, and just about everything else hit the fan, I had already been seriously thinking about the future and where I wanted to be to support my new family. The digital media degree I was in wasn’t going to earn anything to support my family and if this recession turned to a depression, I would really have a hard time finding any work with an easy/useless degree in any job market (including the target job market for the degree). I’ve seen people search for entry level jobs and be denied over and over because they don’t have the education or experience. I don’t ever want to be left out in the cold from work when I have a family to feed, or go to work everyday to a job I hate, or am completely not interested in. It seemed like the harder the education was, the better the payoff in more ways than money.
There were too many people just after a degree, easy ones. Everyone who didn’t know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives seemed to either just dabble in pointless classes or declare themselves a business major. I wanted to be better than letting indecision take over my future, leading me to personify the definition of mediocre career.
One night I was talking to one of my best friends about the doubts I had with the digital media major, he mentioned to me that I should consider engineering. I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed at the time, but after some research I found that engineers whether mechanical, civil, electrical, biomedical, whatever– they were in high demand all over the world. The pay was nice, the possibilities of what one does with an engineering degree were limitless. Electrical engineering had everything to do with what I was interested in anyway. It sounded like a good switch. After I talked with Bridgett about it, we decided that engineering was something that challenged me enough to be uncomfortable and push me to learn more than I had ever cared to learn in my life about everything. I changed to mechanical engineering, then finding out that electrical engineering could more than match everything I was interested in with recording music, making music, or whatever with music, I changed my major to electrical engineering. I did this all in the month of October 2008.
Over four years later, here I am. It’s taken me so long because I used to suck at math. It took about two years to get to where I needed to be mathematically where an incoming freshman in an electrical engineering program would start. It’s turned out to be a 6 year degree. The payoffs thus far are completely worth it. Paid internships are a guarantee, and and I’m also guaranteed an above average paying job straight out of college just about anywhere in the country, depending on what I want to do.
I’m grateful to have chosen the path I did in October of 2008. I’m glad Bridgett and I were forward thinking enough to make the right choices at the right time (with some extra help from the man upstairs). My future career is brighter than ever at this point, and only getting brighter. I won’t ever have to take an entry level job again, nor settle for entry level pay anywhere in the country. I have a meaningful job, where things are different everyday and I can accomplish much everyday. Currently, I qualify for over 100 different types of electrical engineering internships, which relates to many more possible career choices post college. Not only that, I am challenged to find solutions to engineering problems every day. Those problems range from ethical, mathematical, creative, and so on. That means brain exercising every day. I attribute my freedom of opportunity to a choice to do something hard. The philosophy “no pain no gain” is directly applicable in this circumstance. On top of all this, I like what I’m doing. If don’t like what I’m doing, I learn something different and do something else somewhere else.
Please note, I’m no slamming on your job, just advocating for taking a harder road for a better payoff. Even now, if you’re 50 years old, learn more and get where you want to be.