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B.S. in Mech.E. But lost interest, and can't find employment

  1. Dec 20, 2014 #1
    Hi, so I recently graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering this past Spring.

    Since January I've been looking for employment, but I've had 0 luck. I have a 3.945 GPA and graduated magna cum laude, involvement in honor societies Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Tau Sigma, but I don't think that really helps in employment. I think it is experience and internships, which I didn't get a chance to take a part in during my school years. Mostly because I didn't have a car, wanted to focus mostly on studies, was already working a job that paid the bills, and was unsure of my abilities to perform in an internship.

    Out of the 50+ applications I have submitted, I have had two call backs. They happened to be the few that I applied to in person during a career fair at my old university, and were immediately impressed with my resume at the time of meeting them. The first call was for an invitation to apply to a particular position, but I didn't get called for an interview. I think because the position actually required more experience than I had. The second was for a management development program, which I went to the interview for. I wasn't ready for a management position though. I expressed interest in beginning my career in engineering, and working my way up to management, but they didn't want that. I have two agencies helping search for me but no hits yet.

    Over all this time I've been applying to more entry level jobs, taking a Solidworks class, and a bit of studying for the EIT (as well as working in my tutoring and sales jobs). But after a lot of introspecting, I don't know if I want to do engineering anymore. I've lost my passion. I don't think I want to draw things on solidworks, calculate minimum hole diameters for shafts, gear ratios, design gear teeth, design PID controllers, calculate minimum sizes for nails or screws, calculate the amount of pipes needed in a heat exchanger, etc etc. I find that too tedious. I think I was more interested in the theory, in the physics and mathematics behind why something occurs. I wasn't very interested in putting servos together, building aerodynamic structures. My reasoning behind staying in my major was that I would probably like it more as I approach my senior classes, and I would like the employment more than I like my current sales job.

    So I've been thinking, maybe I should continue my education in a M.S. in Physics. But that will require me to take a year or two of core undergrad physics courses. I will still be jobless for a while. Maybe I should change my direction entirely. From an economic point of view, that would probably be a waste of time and a waste of potential future earnings. Maybe graduate level mechanical engineering courses would be something I'd like more, but I won't have a chance to get into graduate school until 2016, since deadlines have passed and I haven't taken the GRE. Maybe I've just lost passion to do anything.

    My options I suppose would be:
    -M.S. in Mech Engineering
    -Try M.S. in Physics
    -Continue searching for employment, but in the meantime try to gain more skills. (This one is hard, because I've become more and more unmotivated to start anything).
    -Choose a different direction all together.

    My goals:
    -To have a decent salary. I'm 26 and still get paid 13.50 an hour. It's embarrassing.
    -To do something that I am passionate about. I have always enjoyed mathematics and physics, but there might be something out there I might be more passionate about that I haven't discovered yet.
    -If I am working for a company, I'd like to be an indispensable member of that company.
    -I like learning, although it is difficult to learn things on my own.
    -I want to do new things. Not doing the same thing every day.

    I suppose those are probably everyone's goals.

    I'm interested in:
    -Mathematics
    -Physics
    -Astronomy (Carl Sagan's Cosmos is my all-time favorite science documentary)
    -Cycling, Fitness
    -Learning Languages


    Since there are members here much more experienced than I, what do you think I should do? If you have any options not listed above, feel free to mention them.

    I apologize if there is a slight, depressing tone to my long post.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2014 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    Science Advisor

    You mention learning languages as an interest. Have you applied for jobs that would require working "overseas"?

    Perhaps it would help to classify your passions.

    Some people have a passion for certain goals and others have passion for certain activities. For example, a person might have a passion to build a quieter table saw. In pursuit of that goal, the person might use mechanical engineering, reverse engineering, trial and error, social networking - whatever it would take to accomplish the objective. Another person might be interested in the activity of metal working and be happy doing metal working regardless of what the goal of the metalworking was.

    I'd classify a passion for "being an indispensible member of a company" or studying mathematics and physics as passion for an activity.
     
  4. Dec 20, 2014 #3

    Physics_UG

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    Gold Member

    Sorry to hear about your struggles. First of all, if you have only applied to ~50 jobs in the past year then you are not sending out nearly enough apps. Try submitting at least 1-2 apps a day. Are you applying to just jobs in your area? You may need to cast a wider net and apply more broadly geographically speaking.

    Second, a physics MS will not help you at all to get a job. If you are going to go back to school get an engineering MS.
     
  5. Dec 20, 2014 #4
    How are you looking for these jobs?

    During the time I was applying, I found plenty of entry level jobs for engineering. Usually entry level requires 0-3 years of experience and many of the ones I was looking at were for 0 years of experiences. I agree with that you need to cast a wider net.

    I agree with Physics_UG that an MS in physics will not help you get a job. You should go for an MEng or MS in Eng. The difference is the first one is a professional degree to advance in your career and the latter is a research oriented degree that often students use to get an entry for PhD.

    In fact I am currently applying to graduate school. You can go straight from BS --PhD for physics. For some engineering programs go from BS --MS --PhD and extremly exceptional students go from BS -- PhD. I'm pretty sure you can apply straight for PhD for engineering too, just research the programs. You should only go for a PhD in either field if you enjoy research. Neither of those will help you advance your career in industry. If you want to get into industry apply for an entry level and work from there.



    Edit: Since you don't have the work experience, it is very important that you highlight your skills in your cover letter. A job is very different than coursework. Also, I hope you are looking out for jobs that do not require a PE license. Study and pass the exam = you widen your net.
     
  6. Dec 20, 2014 #5
    I have applied to a few overseas. Being indispensable at my company I classified as a goal, not a passion.

    Yeaaa I lost count after around 50. Whenever someone asks how many I've applied to I usually say more than 50. haha. I have applied to a few jobs out of state, but mostly nearby. I should try to apply more often. The MS in physics thought wasn't quite an idea for getting a job, but more for following my passion, since I explained in my post that maybe I am losing interest in engineering all together due to seemingly tedious tasks that engineering seemed to involve. At least to my knowledge up to this point.

    I have been looking for these jobs in job fairs and online. Only a few in job fairs, and mostly online, using websites such as Linkedin, usajobs.gov, craigslist, company websites such as jpl, nasa, northrop grumman, boeing, etc.
     
  7. Dec 20, 2014 #6
    If you physics is really what you want to do than you really need to think long and hard about it. As you know, MS costs a lot of money. An MS in physics isn't anymore useful than a BS. Also enjoying reading physics texts or especially popular science books is not going to be the same as doing research in it.

    Before you decide that physics is your true calling instead of engineering, try very hard to get work experience in engineering. Trust me, I have a BS in physics and it is very hard to get jobs with just a BS. Even with a PhD it does not get any easier. Because I love research I am going for PhD and I'll see where things go after it.

    Get a Job and save some money. Take physics courses as a non matriculated student somewhere once you have the money for it. In the mean time, while you are looking for jobs maybe email some physics profs that are doing experimental work if you can volunteer in their lab or something. You'll know what physics research is like then. After all of that and you still want to do Physics, apply for a PhD. Study hard for the pgres and get a high score!

    Good luck!
     
  8. Dec 20, 2014 #7

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    Was one a student member of ASME? Is one familiar with the various technical groups and journals available with ASME?
    https://www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are
    https://www.asme.org/career-education
    https://community.asme.org/search/directorysearch.aspx#Target=groups&GroupCategory=2&Pnum=1
    https://www.asme.org/shop/journals

    In what particular areas of research and/or application is one interested?

    SolidWorks (or CAD/CAE) is a good skill to have in conjunction with Finite Element Analysis and a knowledge of materials. If one were to do an MS in Physics, or Mechanical Engineering, or even Engineering Physics, in what areas would one wish to do research?

    Condensed Matter Physics and Material Science/Engineering could be compatible with a background in Mech Eng.
     
  9. Dec 21, 2014 #8
    Thanks bluechic92 for the encouragement. I'm feeling a little more confident again.

    Astronuc: Thanks for those links. As for areas of research, I've looked through a few and it seems I have too many interests. UCLA's mechanical and aerospace engineering school has a nanotechnology program. Also it appears that they have a program where you research fusion in an applied plasma physics minor. It would be very tough to get into UCLA though. I'm also interested in a fluid mechanics, material science, biomed, energy systems. Those are the M.S.B.E. programs that I have seen that have interested me so far.
     
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