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Boring IT job is there something more? Am I in the wrong place?

  1. Jul 22, 2012 #1
    Hey everyone,

    Well I’m a computer science major, I chose this major straight after finishing high school, the idea of working with computers was very appealing at that time. And honestly my parents kept pushing me into the technology sector thinking that it has the most job security, and I wasn’t opposed to that.

    After finishing my second year I got an internship in an IT company that does systems and programs for educational purposes.

    The job is so boring I just can’t stand the idea of sitting behind the desk with the laptop screen for the rest of my life. They don’t give me a lot to do as they say I’m not qualified yet, I go there for 6 hours a day, ¾ of the time I’m doing nothing just starring at the computer screen or watching co-workers complaining all the time and coding like monkeys,

    I just wonder what am I doing there and I feel like it’s the wrong place for me.
    I wanted to go into architecture and design or civil engineering but my parents kept pushing me at a very delicate time giving me the idea that I am a girl and this is going to be so hard for me, oh and you know the stupid mistake most of us make, letting our parents shape our future based on money issues.
    I’m not like most girls, I hate sitting and rusting in an office… well I love the idea of going outdoors from time to time inspecting projects maybe or meeting with clients.

    I’m lost now… should I give this internship more time? does it get better? what's more to expect in an IT job? Did you feel the same way when you got your first job?
    Maybe I should change my major for good…
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2012 #2
    How do you know you like architecture, design, civil engineering? Have you worked in those fields?

    Interning at the first company that gives you a job doesn't mean you'll be there forever, use it as a way to test the waters and gain experience. If you just sit all day long not doing anything, find something. Ask people if you could help, just make sure you can learn something out of the experience, that will make it worthwhile.

    Ultimately you have to decide what is right for you, if you quit this internship what will you do? Do you have another internship lined up in a field of your interest.

    I've found you can't truly know if you like something unless you gain experience in it.
  4. Jul 22, 2012 #3
    Hi Melloww. Relax! It's not the end of the world. First of all, you should give the internship more time. A lot of interns in many companies don't get given much interesting work. You should try and find something useful to do...ask around and learn as much as you can. At the end of the day, even if you change careers, the internship should be a valuable experience for you and will look good on a CV/resume. IT is most likely going to involve programming of some sort, so if you are really not enjoying it maybe you should consider switching. But don't make any hasty decisions. Is it just this internship that you don't like? For instance, do you enjoy your college work or would you prefer working for a different kind of IT company?
  5. Jul 22, 2012 #4
    You could play your IT background experience for something that is a bit more hardware oriented.

    Consider building embedded systems. There is lots of work available among smart meter manufacturers building systems that convey huge volumes of data (what some call "big data") back to utility control rooms.

    If the idea of building or programming with an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi board intrigues you, this might be a good place to start.
  6. Jul 22, 2012 #5
    I was in the exact same position when I interned at GE. I was hire directly through the HQ and was sent to the wrong plant by accident. Consequentially, I was given menial boring tasks. After some persuading, my boss decided to let me switch to another department and work on an upcoming wind tunnel project. This was pretty satisfying, though it only lasted for a few weeks. Even though I had work I felt useless like "here give this kid something to occupy himself". Once this project was done I read wikipedia about 6 hrs/day for a very generous hourly wage. The whole experiance convinced me I would rather do research and go on to graduate school than sit a desk and edit power point presentations.

    In your case I would recommend the following actions:

    1) Be Proactive. Ask your boss to direct you to people who need an extra set of hands. If he/she is not available go to some of your coworkers and ask them if they would like some help. I don't see anything wrong with telling your boss/coworker that you do not have enough to do; the more work you can get done the better

    2) Consider graduate work. Since you are a sophmore/junior(?) now is the best time to get started looking for programs. Visit schools, ask professors what doing research in comp-sci is like or find an area that interests you and seek professors who share those interests.

    3)Explore your other interests. Maybe a minor in architechture/civil engineering. As an engineer myself I can tell you that if you went into CE with a comp sci background you will have a great opportunity to work on Finite Element Method (FEM) codes used to design structures. You could even work on aircraft with a CE and FEM experience. Architecture I'm not too sure about. Perhaps you can explore your artistic side and get a minor in digital arts applied to architecture?

    Hope this helps. One more thing, don't let your parents pick your future. If you're not happy, you'll stay that way unless you make changes.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  7. Jul 22, 2012 #6
    Following up on Aero51's point about "giving the kid something to do":

    With an experienced new employee, it takes at least a year before we can send them off on their own to do real, productive work. With a brand new graduate, it can take as long as two or three years.

    We have loads of required training: Orientation, First Aid (including administering oxygen), Confined Space, CPR, SCBA gear, Defensive driving and traffic control (for working in the middle of the road), arc flash protection, lock-out/Tag-out, Sexual Harassment, IT Security, Ethics, Procurement Card training, and then we have technical training on top of that.

    And as an intern, you are not going to see most of that training until the managers have good reason to think you're going to stick with us.

    So what can you do on jobs like this? Well, we'll sit with you and show you how to program some of the equipment we use. I might work on something else, while you tinker. You will get stuck; and if you have half of a brain, you'll learn to ask questions instead of attempting to puzzle things out yourself. In return, we give the most up-front and honest answers we can. We'll have you review some of our internal documents to see if someone who knows nothing about our work site can make sense of it.

    We'd also take you with us on some of our routine field work. But you won't be doing it alone. The "give the kid a thing to do" is the unfortunate reality of internship. There are too many workplace hazards to let you loose on your own. I had a friend who died on the job and another who was maimed for life --and these guys were safe, contentious, knowledgeable employees. This is not an academic concern. This is as real as anything gets.
  8. Jul 23, 2012 #7
    This is exactly how I felt today, after copying a bunch of disks and entering some data :/
    Your suggestion about going to grad school for some research really opened my eyes because I do spend most of my time doing researches for my own good (not asked by any professor) Do you think I can go to CE in grad school? or should I do this all over again?

    Of course I keep on asking my coworkers to give me something to do, they simply reply with: "chill you're new here"
    My boss asked me to find new ways to improve their system, I have no idea what he means. It's like "here's something that will confuse for the rest of the day"

    The only thing I enjoyed in college was the mechanics course that I took last year and all the math classes especially analysis and functions of different variables.
    I tolerated the programming/hardware related classes but I’m not excited about this anymore. I enjoyed learning a new languages.

    I usually draw or use google sketchup in my free time that's why I became into architecture.
    I have never had any experience in those fields but I would love to if I ever had the opportunity, I only attended an architectural drawing class last summer and I liked it. I was so hesitant about choosing design mainly because I’m more math oriented and I enjoy problem solving that’s why I thought of engineering mainly civil cause the most subject I enjoyed in highschool was geology and designing buildings that are able to fight natural disasters is quite interesting
    I don't know but my mind is complicated, I have so many interests and passions to fulfill, some will find me weird..

    And of course I won't leave this internship until something better comes along, at least I'll have something pretty and useful to put on my CV
    Oh this exactly what my boss told me today: we won't give you something real until at least 6 months if you stayed with us, that's quite disappointing
    I'm so unsure about switching my major now as I think it's too late.
    What do u think? Am I just rambling or do I make a point somewhere?
    All of your posts were helpful, Thank you I'm really liking this forum
    If you'd like to add something else it would be great
  9. Jul 23, 2012 #8
    Realistically you will probably not get into a CE grad program without the necessary applied physics courses (rigid body dynamics, statics, etc) and specialized courses such as fracture mechanics, concrete design, soil mechanics, etc. The good news is that the Civil Engineering curriculum is one of the "easier" engineering disciplines because there are not as many required courses compared to aeronautical/mechanical engineering and chemical engineering. Go your engineering departments website and look up the standard CE curriculum. Keep in mind that even if you get your BS in CE, you will probably not get into design until you've acquired a few years of experience.

    My personal opinion is that you should pursue a career that you enjoy. You don't want to spend the rest of your life miserable. Maybe you can graduate on time if you take summer classes between your junior and senior year. Now would be the time to make these changes before it's too late.
  10. Jul 23, 2012 #9
    IT jobs are pretty boring in general. Usually you don't do very much when working in IT its a lot of repetitive nonsense.

    I personally don't think a computer science student would find much interest in doing IT work, unless you enjoy doing databases/data entry/fixing machines/reloading operating systems, or related things. I am sure their is probably some programming, but its usually business orientated, and rather dull in my opinion.

    This is how IT is sadly. So your feelings are pretty justifiable.

    If your more interested in trying to see where this internship goes, I would suggest showing initiative, figure out how their system works, and actually find a way to improve it. It also might be the way the company is where you work. Some companies, aren't very welcoming to new comers, and since your a girl your likely to find even more resistance.

    If your really bored, I would recommend trying to find a job outside of IT that requires computer science, research and development is pretty fun if you can handle it.

    However you usually need more then a bachelors degree. If you really don't like what your doing and would rather be outside, etc. take some career exploration courses, maybe go back and get the degree you want.

    You might find geology pretty interesting, its largely outside, and you do field work at exotic places.
  11. Jul 25, 2012 #10
    I decided to be honest with my parents and tell them about my feelings towards the internship and my major in general they simply replied with all jobs are boring… I refuse to believe this as I think there must be something that satisfies you out there
    I'm continuing the internship, I'd like to see where it will take me but the repetitiveness of the stuff they do is killing me.. and how can you show initiative in something you're not interested in the first place?

    I’m kind of in a bad situation, my university does not allow me to transfer to the faculty of engineering (yes their system is complicated and stressful) I can’t afford transferring to another university cause my parents aren’t supporting me financially… so I’m kind of stuck for two year there, but I have one advantage in choosing between three majors which are my current CS major or applied math and statistics or pure math I would still finish any of them in two years.. Which one do you think is the best route if I plan on applying to the school of engineering (civil/environmental) once I finish my current degree? And it’s true I can’t go into grad school immediately, but I don’t have a problem in going back for another B.S I’m now 100% sure I want to do engineering in the future

    Well this is not the place for this but I just want to vent somewhere… I really don’t get where my parents are coming from especially my father… I kept on telling them how much I’m unhappy in my university but they just don’t care.. all they care about is getting a degree that will land me in a good career position immediately once I graduate

    I don’t know about you Americans but here students don’t get any help from the gov if they decided to live on their own and pay for college there’s not even proper part time jobs that helps you with your tuition fees, I’ve started to really hate my country as I feel like my hands are tied and there’s not much flexibility… anyway enough with the complains.
  12. Jul 25, 2012 #11
    What country are you from? In America you just leave school with ~$200000 of debt! If you study applied mathematics you can...apply...it to civil engineering. It seems strange that your school wont let you switch majors so easily though. With regards to your remarks about your parents, I think they just want you to have a stable adulthood. Try pressing them for support. Perhaps a good argument is engineering is something you love and it is quite profitable.
  13. Jul 25, 2012 #12
    If you are 100% sure you want to do engineering, do it now. Your first two years are a sunk cost. If you're going to go do another BS in engineering, start that now and don't bother finishing the CS major.
  14. Jul 25, 2012 #13
    You seem to be so determined with engineering. What about outsourcing and offshoring? This happens a lot lately and I wonder how do you feel about that? How many of your colleagues at the place of internship actually speak about their jobs going overseas? What about the professors at your school? From the little I know, the more routine the job is, the likelier it is to be offshored.

    I'm only asking these questions because the implications are very serious (both for you personnaly and the economy at large) yet it's a hush-hush topic in the STEM fields.

  15. Jul 25, 2012 #14
    "IT" usually means building/maintaining a company's network and database, which is never the company's moneymaking business, unless you work at a IT consultancy. You will be far away from anything rewarding in an "IT" job because you're the modern plumber.

    That's assuming by "IT" you mean the usual definition.

    But a CS graduate does not need to go into IT. Software R&D can be very interesting. You just have to pick the right place. If you like civil or architecture, I wonder if you'll want to work in companies that make the CAD software for engineers and architects. A CS grad would be a perfect match.

    I'm also curious to where you come from, because I myself come from a country where it's extremely difficult to change majors, and where parents are domineering.
  16. Jul 26, 2012 #15


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    Melloww, I'm wondering where you are from. From your description above about the faculty of engineering, and about applied math and statistics, it sounds like you are a student from Canada. But then you mentioned that the government doesn't offer any help, which isn't true (there are low-interest loans available for students to pursue higher education).
  17. Jul 26, 2012 #16
    Yeah, really. When I got out of school I went into IT but I liked it and yes, I sat down in front of several compute screens on my desk and worked with several systems many, many hours, more than 40/week. More to it than just coding through. It's corporate life and everything that goes with that especially people management, budgets, systems management, dealing with clients, computer users and tons of paper work.

    Unnecessary comment deleted
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2012
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