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Can't decide on a career path

  1. Jan 24, 2016 #1
    Hello, I'm FlashExplorer, and I'm a 22 year old guy. Ever since graduating from high school I haven't been able to pinpoint what I wanted to do as a career.

    First, I thought I wanted to get into IT because I've always been naturally technically inclined when it came to computers. I did OK with the terminal (computer) side of the course, but found the network side of it rather dry and boring. I liked solving the problems, but the course work wasn't interesting enough for me. I quickly fell behind and had to drop out in January, about halfway through the course. I got a little bit of my tuition back, but not all of it.

    Next, I decided to pursue a career in the automotive trades because of my love of cars so I thought it would be a good idea. Since I lost most of my education funds and wasn't willing to take out a loan, I opted for a vocational course at a local high school. The first two months were all in class paper work based learning, after that my teacher placed each of us at a workplace as work experience. I was initially dead set on doing something involving engines, so I pleaded with my teacher to place me at an engine machining shop. I got what I wanted, and everything was fine for a while, but when winter rolled around, the work slowed to a stop. I went from machining a couple engines a day to sweeping the shop and changing oil filters. Since I wasn't experienced, the mechanics wouldn't let me do much more, & I became bored and hungry for money.
    I asked my teacher if I could switch locations, and he suggested I go work at a Honda dealership where I learned how to do auto painting and paint prepping (well, the basics). I started there February of last year, & I really enjoyed it. It was related to one of my interests, but most of all I liked working with the people there. I worked my hardest, hoping that it would lead to a job working there, but by the end of April I was very disheartened to find out that they could not hire me, as they couldn't find a position that made financial sense if I was to be hired as a full-time staff member. As upsetting as this was, I was still determined to find a job in the automotive sector. I spent all summer trying (and mostly failing) to find a job at several places. All the jobs I managed to land only lasted at most, two weeks. There are many reasons I lost my jobs, but the main obstacles were my lack of experience, specifically because I didn't have any sort of degree or apprenticeship training in the works, as well as my choice to specialize in only auto painting and not all of Auto Body. The only job I ended on good terms was a temp job as a detailer, and that only lasted 2 weeks as well. I could have gone back to my job as a general labourer for a lawn care company like I had done for the past two years, but I was stubborn, and wanted to find work in the auto industry. I still have yet to find a job that I have been able to hold for any significant amount of time.

    Recently though, I've been taking night classes in pre calculus and chemistry, with plans for physics with a friend of mine that I met through the previously mentioned automotive course. The reason for taking these courses was to upgrade my marks so that I could apply for Engineering at my local university. Like I've already mentioned, I have a passion for cars, learning about them and their engines, as well as trying to make them better. I'm also mildly fascinated by roadwork and infrastructure (bridges are cool). I remember trying to conjure up ideas for an overpass and exit ramps for the freeway in my city. The thing is though, I'm not completely sold on whether or not engineering is the best fit for me. I've always been average to maybe above average in science and math, & I never took physics. Even right now in my night courses, I'm doing average; 56 in Chemistry and a 78 in Pre-calculus. I'd chalk that up to poor studying habits moreso than my inability to understand.

    Though I've failed to pinpoint what I want to do as a career over these 5 years, I think I've at least being able to identify what I like and what I'm good at. I'll just list them as bullet points to save time on this already wordy post.

    • I love to design/draw things. I could always find time to doodle. I preferred to play with Lego rather than hang out (or even make) fris. In high school I spent lots of time making models in Google Sketchup. Also drafting was the only course I ever got a 90 in.
    • I like to solve problems. Not much to say other than I find it highly satisfying to find a viable solution.
    • I like cars and engines.
    I think that's it. Wow that turned into a diary entry!

    So what I want from you (the community) is some advice for me (am I suited for this? If not, what?), some of your life experiences working as an engineer, and what you do on a day to day basis. I want to know what the profession is like, or just any other advice you can give me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2016 #2
    Just coming from an engineering student--you don't have to be phenomenal at math or physics to get an engineering degree. All it takes is a good amount of hard work. Yes, you learn plenty of math and physics, but that's not something some people can naturally do and some can't. With enough interest, anyone can do it.
  4. Jan 24, 2016 #3
    I see, I was worried because of the entrance requirements:
    "A minimum of 85% average over the following, with no less than 60% in each course:
    Pre-calculus 40S
    Physics 40S
    Chemistry 40S"
    For the record my university is the University of Manitoba, and my marks are for grade 11. I still have grade 12 to improve them. Could this just imply that getting better marks would move me up the waiting list?
  5. Jan 24, 2016 #4
    I can't comment on your chances for admission. You certainly do need to improve your scores, but don't be disheartened before you've gotten into the meat of an engineering program. Once you get used to the science and math, it becomes easier.

    You'll have to practice a lot, though.
  6. Jan 24, 2016 #5
    Ok. I still want to be sure that what I'm working towards is interesting enough to me to want to pursue it. Otherwise, it'll be a lot more effort to push myself to study and finish assignments. I'm going to visit the Engineering department soon so I can get a feel for the course, and what I can expect.
  7. Jan 25, 2016 #6
    Good idea. Some people can only get an interest in the math when they see the real life applications of it. If you enjoy understanding how things like engines work, including all the heavy physics behind it, then I'm sure it'll inspire you to learn that math. Really, I'm only a student, but I can tell you as an (electrical) engineering student that it can be very enriching to have a deeper understanding of how these things work. Not only that, but design is just fun.
  8. Jan 29, 2016 #7
    Yeah, you probably should be worried of these requirements. They`re not easy to obtain. The good news though, is that it doesn`t require a lot of raw talent. Rather, it requires good study habits and a good deal of hard work. This means motivating yourself to learn something even though it is not always clear what the practical applications are. If you can pull this off, then you can do engineering.
    Your grades right now are not good. You need to fix your study habits. Work as much as necessary. You will get there eventually then. If you choose not to work hard, then you won`t get there.

    You can always attend a community college before going to a "real" university too. But really, improve your studying!
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