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I quit my job to go back to school

  1. Oct 8, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone. Looks like you have a great community here that I would like to be a part of. A little background on me: I hated high school and did no do well academically although I always had an interest in science. Got out of school and floated around various jobs while my passion for learning grew stronger. This past summer I decided to quit my job and head back to school with hopes of becoming an engineer. Being 25 I sometimes wonder how my age might hinder my pursuit but I try to think of it as more of a reason to do well and stand out. Also since I hadn't been in a math class since 2005 I had to take a few developmental classes but I am finally in preclac/trig and am actually enjoying (and doing well) it. I am in a transfer program at my local community college and will be transferring to a university after 2 years. One of the drawback of this route seems to be the lack of extracurricular activities. Since there are not many clubs or projects available I wonder what I can to do to help my chances of getting an internship. Any suggestions?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2014 #2
    Welcome to PF Jay!

    We have a great community!

    Good for you!

    You're still super young and not that it matters one bit. fyi, you might have more replies if you post your question in the career advice forum.
  4. Oct 11, 2014 #3
    Jay956, welcome, I'm also a new user here.
    I wanted to say, I've had a VERY similar situation as you. I did so-so in high school (actually good in my STEM classes, even took engineering), but was incredibly stupid and dropped to get a GED.
    Years later, I realized I LOVED learning and had to go back, so started out at a community college. Took as many science and math as I could, from bio 1&2, botany, zoology, chem 1&2, to physical geography, and yeah, I started at developmental math too (I forgot everything from high school) and just transferred after completing calc 1. You can do it! I actually originally planned on doing engineering too! But I just transferred to a school w/o a program in that (college of William and Mary), and I'm still not 100% sure what I want to do (now leaning towards math/physics).
    I'm older than most of the student body here (I'm 26), and I have 2 kids (I honestly don't know many student with even one, so that's something that sort of makes me feel different). Its tough with the kids and school, so I NEVER did any extra curriculars, but still got into a really great school. I got a position as a lab assistant at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and actually just went to a NASA internship workshop a few weeks back and plan to apply for the summer, so I'd really focus on the grades first if I was you, its really pulled me along, and I'm even someone who is naturally good in math (its a LOT of effort for me).
    If you really want to do curricular activities, start a club maybe that is related to the type of thing you want to do (robotics, aeronautics, etc).
    Just my advice. :)
  5. Oct 11, 2014 #4
    I applaud you for your motivation. I left high school with the intent of pursuing engineering; my summer job was with an electrical contractor and after a so-so year as a freshman I left university to pursue that career. By right around your age I was a master electrician, but only a couple years later I was stricken with a back injury for which recovery plateaued after a number of tough years, and honestly has left me far less suited to working in an office chair than physically working on a construction site. I now find myself with a child and a lifestyle which would be difficult to adapt to full-time student income, not to mention the uncertainty of graduation followed by a job in elec engineering which I might find I don't enjoy nearly as much as my current employment.

    I still greatly enjoy learning and spend a lot of my free time doing it, age 25 certainly isn't too late to make a move such as yours and neither is 30+ (where I am at), what is in my opinion far more important for ones of "non-traditional" student age is that you have a clear path in mind to focus your education on, the eighteen and nineteen year olds might have some advantage in the innate malleability of youth however your extra years ought to have helped toughen your work ethic and drive to get what you want out of life as well as given you a better appreciation of the rewards of hard work. For me, complacency and an overall satisfaction with the path I'm on combined with other future prospects for leveraging my experience once field work really begins to disagree with me has caused me to abandon my aspirations for a degree. But it's a personal choice everyone needs to make for themselves eventually, and sticking with it means finding a way around any obstacles you may come across.
  6. Oct 11, 2014 #5
    Thank you for the words of encouragement. My current program has me going up to differential equations before transferring. It seems so far away, but I just have to take it a day at a time and keep one eye on the future. I don't know how you do it with kids. More power to you! I used to work for the shop that teaches SCUBA at W&M, though I never made it down there myself. Grades are one thing I have going for me. I have a 4.0 and plan to keep it as long as possible. I took about a years worth of classes about a year ago under a different major but the good thing from that is all of my general elective are done. Only the fun classes are left.

    Sorry to hear about your trouble but it sounds like you a resilient and will have no problems finding your solution. I do have my path fairly mapped out. I have two route planned, aerospace, and mechanical. Aerospace engineering is my first choice and if all goes well I am planning on going to VA Tech with that major. My backup is mechanical engineering if something doesn't go as planned (family, finances, life, grades, who knows) because it seems that path has a slightly lighter work load and is offered at more universities. Funny you should mention work ethic. I am always stunned when students complain about homework, text during class, or things like that. Why are you even here if you don't want to do the work?!
  7. Oct 12, 2014 #6
    jay956, that is so ironic, I just finished for my scuba certification through them as an elective class at W&M, haha.
    And btw, I meant to say I'm NOT naturally good at math in my original post.
    So, I take it you are doing the engineering program at jtcc or jsrcc?
    I was looking at their "engineers produced in Virginia" thing (agreement with UVA, VT was just to far from home) when I first started out in school.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  8. Oct 13, 2014 #7


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    I did the same at the venerable age of 33 and it worked out great. Yeah, I had a couple rough years [not to mention a wife and kid], but, I would definitely do it again. My attitude, as yours appears to be, was failure is not an option. Never underestimate the power of motivation. I was a straight A student when I returned to school. That level of performance was incomprehensible in my early 20's. My subsequent employers found that highly attractive.
  9. Oct 13, 2014 #8
    I agree Chronos, sometimes the older students are much more motivated and less distracted, even with family/financial obligations that most traditional students don't have. That was certainty my case! If I had went straight to college after high school, I might have majored in something useless or with traditionally low-paying job prospects just because its fun and/or easy (I had always wanted to major in ecology or botany, beautiful fields, don't get me wrong, but employability is terrible from what I hear).
  10. Oct 19, 2014 #9
    I agree! My time outside of school and being married with a kid on the way I had to find a career I would love! I wanted to be able to give my wife the option of staying home if she wanted instead of working. I wasn't going to be a loser with no direction or ambition barely making it with my family. It took me a day of study to find a degree in common with job opportunities with above a 60k salary. I chose electrical engineering because that is what I found interesting and paid the bills. From there I had to do the math, the theory, the projects, everything possible to make me an attractive candidate. I wish I had grades like you! I'm 26, with 2 kids, on my internship right now, with a year left. I never thought I'd actually be in the last stretch but it's almost here! The end is in sight! Don't give up! Don't ever give up! If you get discouraged because it just takes time remember you have unique experience many younger guys won't have! Use your experiences and work ethic you've learned to dedicate to school and you will never regret it. Good luck!
  11. May 20, 2016 #10
    Hope it's OK to bump this old thread but I think it might give some encouragement to others that might be in the same situation that I was in.

    Funny reading back. Two years later, I just finished up at my community college and will be starting at Cal Poly SLO in the fall, this summer I will be interning at NASA Langley for the second time.

    If you want to do something, go for it, put your passion into it and you will get where you want to be.
  12. May 23, 2016 #11


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    Hey jay956.

    For an internship I'd be focusing on finding out the values, culture, and expectations of those who are hiring.

    If you get that information then I think that is the best way to really prepare for applying for a role in an organization and that will give hints about things like what they value on a CV and most importantly why.

    You'll find there is significant variation when it comes to this and what one organization values another may not necessarily value.

    This also prepares you for rejection and understanding that it's not only a reflection on you but a reflection on the organization and hopefully it can help you work towards and find an organization that meets your desires as well as you meeting theirs.

    I guess getting out there and speaking to people can give you a good idea in addition to things like speaking with people in some demographic where those values, culture and expectations translate.
  13. May 24, 2016 #12


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    Congratulations on your successes, and thanks for coming back and giving us a progress report. It's valuable for others to see how hard work and perseverance can pay off. I'm sure you'll inspire others, just as those who contributed their stories earlier in this thread inspired you.
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