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Direction To Engineering Career: Work is Unfulfilling

  1. Jan 29, 2015 #1
    I currently have an entry level desk job in engineering at a large defense contractor. The work and lifestyle is....very boring...to say the least. Right now my work is not very challenging (I suspect because it is entry level right now, but I have seen people with 5-10 years of experience doing similar things to what I do...) and the day is repetitive. Actually, what drives me nuts is sitting in an office 8 hours a day...every day. And barely having any time to pursue my own interests, on top of not being challenged and a small social circle. I am making this post to solicit suggestions for alternative career paths in engineering (or that might be obtainable with an engineering background) based on criteria listed below:

    1) I want work that is creative and intellectually challenging. Checklists, reviewing diagrams/drawings, and reading government paperwork is far from either of those...

    2) Something that is "useful". That is a vague term, lets say a job that "gets something done for people" a simple example would be shoveling snow. No it isn't engineering, but it helps people and it needs to get done. At the end of the day you can see what you've accomplished (moved some snow! cleared someones driveway, made it easier for them to walk, etc)

    3) A personable work environment. I really dislike the "cookie cutter" environment of my work place. I really enjoyed my time on an extracurricular club during my undergrad - we designed and built UAVs to compete nationally. I think working on a small team made the experience really great, even though we were putting in 12 hour days on Saturday in addition to our classwork.

    4) Some freedom. Sitting all day for 8 hours is very confining. I lose focus after 6 hours. I worked more in undergrad but I think because I could break up my schedule I was more productive and happy overall.

    I have come up with some of my own ideas, but I want to hear what you guys suggest first. Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2015 #2
    What ideas have you come up with?
  4. Jan 29, 2015 #3
    Deep down I want yo be a professor and inventor, but I am so afraid of the economy that Im weary of applying yo PhD programs.

    I was thinking of applying to smaller companies that do test engineering or field work.

    I was also considering quitting, becoming a bartender, working on my interest in my free time.
  5. Jan 29, 2015 #4
    To* phone...
  6. Jan 29, 2015 #5
    I've also just started working and its mostly all drafting work. Nothing too interesting. I guess that part's common everywhere. If you really want to be a professor, go for it. If I'm not mistaken, you'll get a stipend while you do your PhD. You'll be involved in research and get a chance to teach as well. Work for a year or two, save some money, gain some experience and go for it. In the mean time, you can also finalize the field where you want do your PhD in. The bartender option will be open for life, but not this one.
  7. Jan 29, 2015 #6
    Did you get your PhD too?
  8. Jan 29, 2015 #7
    No I've got my Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering. I'm going to apply for Masters next year. Still contemplating on whether or not to get a PhD.
  9. Jan 29, 2015 #8
    Are you applying to USA schools? I'm considering elsewhere because of the student loan crisis.
  10. Jan 29, 2015 #9
    Ya I am thinking USA and Germany. I'm from India FYI.
  11. Jan 29, 2015 #10
    Before you consider the USA look at the cost of education. 60 grand is no small number
  12. Jan 29, 2015 #11
    Varies from university to university. I am looking into it. More than where you apply, its important that you do and go ahead with your education.
  13. Jan 29, 2015 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    From what you describe it sounds like you may be more interested in a smaller more entrepreneurial firm. Such companies require a greater tolerance for uncertainty and personal financial risk, but they may be more stimulating.
  14. Jan 30, 2015 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    8 hours is a very short workday for a practicing engineer. It actually gives you time to explore other interests. If you get a faster-pace job and begin working 50 - 55 hours a week consistently with periodic death marches you'll find pretty soon you don't have hobbies or interests anymore. It happened to me.

    The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.
  15. Jan 30, 2015 #14
    Companies take advantage of people, I would never work more than 8 hours a day unless I'm passionate about the topic. Life is too short to waste it on crap you don't enjoy.
  16. Jan 30, 2015 #15


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Look for work at smaller companies. You will work much longer hours, be challenged to the extreme, and will feel very passionate about your work. Been there for the past couple of decades -- definitely not boring! :)
  17. Jan 30, 2015 #16


    Staff: Mentor

    Yes. To me it doesn't sound like you are in the wrong career, just the wrong job.
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