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Mid-Life Fork in the Road

  1. Dec 15, 2009 #1
    Four months ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd be thinking about this, but... I'll put this in engineering terms.


    1. 46 years old

    2. Successful first career complete; small pension (pays the bills, but barely)

    3. Aerospace engineering and business (finance) undergrads

    4. Six months from graduating with an MBA + IT (BA) masters

    5. Opportunity to switch to MS in Space Systems and Operations Management; would require an additional year of study.

    6. Option to do MS now, or after finish the MBA/IT.


    1. Optimal career path.

    Additional information:

    1. I enjoy school! Funds aren't unlimited, but will run out in about 2.5 years.

    2. I'm pretty good at teaching, and enjoy it. Was a corporate trainer, and second in that department, among other things. Was thinking of possbly continuing to a PhD.

    3. I enjoy science, physics, engineering, pretty much anything technical, but anything with rockets, jets, or wings get my attention.

    4. I've a lot of untapped "artsy" in me, and a couple of photos are on sale in some local frame shops.

    5. #1's not a job.

    6. I've a knack for explaining things to those who're having a difficult time understanding it, and I enjoy doing so.

    7. While I have an intellectual bent towards "rockets and rayguns," it barely held my interest in college for me to graduate. I'm not all that interested in business, either, and fear an MBA might stereotype me.

    8. I've had a lot of experience in IT, even a few courses (MCSE), but not much more. I know how to design them, put them together, load balance them, design, implement and test databases 5x5, but it was more of a case of "you're the one who seems to have all the answers - you're in charge."

    9. What I'd really like to do is make a living writing multi-genre techno-thrillers, but I find myself diverted answering questions, countering wrongs, or trying to raise awareness of fringe, but scientifically-based possibilities on message forums such as this one.

    10. I'd love working with the likes of the next Rutan. Not much pay, but an opportunity to pool talents/experiences/education and really do something extraordinary.

    10. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up! :rolleyes:

    Feedback? Any is welcome.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2009 #2
    1. Why bother with school?

    2. PhD is research... if you like teaching do teaching...

    3. Set up a website to do with rockets, jets, and wings... teach surfers about them... Stick Google AdSense and Amazon links on your website and there you are! Money & fun. (It really is that easy -- I was surprised to find...)

    4. Photograph rockets, jets and wings and stick them on your website (get permission!)

    5. School isn't your new life? Then why do it? It's fun? Why not find fun that pays and/or that you can do till you die? You already have a pension, so does the job need to pay much?
  4. Dec 15, 2009 #3
    The job doesn't need to pay all that much, but I would like it to. I have a goal of working ten yearsand iinvesting 2/3rds of it. That would double my disposable income from 57 years and beyond.

    As for the ads, I've been a board admin or mod on a dozen sites over the last 25 years. It's a full-time job for way less than minimum wage. On the other hand, I may have an idea that'll pan out, but that remains to be seen.

    All things considered, my options are:

    1. Finish the MBA + IT and go to work. Result: Done by May, decent pay.

    2. Finish the MBA + IT and follow with an MS in Space Ops/Mgmnt, then go to work. Result: Done by May 2011, same pay, but more along the techie lines of what I like to do.

    3. Skip the MBA + IT, getting the MS in Space Ops/Mgmnt, then go to work. Done by May 2011, less pay, but more along the techie lines of what I like to do.

    4. Skip the degrees altogether and go to work. Start making money now, but but at much less pay, and probably not doing what I'd really like to do.
  5. Dec 15, 2009 #4
    2 or 3 FTW!!!!!!!!!
  6. Dec 15, 2009 #5


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  7. Dec 15, 2009 #6
    98 - what's FTW? Mirror image?

    Good links - thank you, Astronuc.
  8. Dec 15, 2009 #7
    For The Win!!!!
  9. Dec 16, 2009 #8
    I think this is the way to go. If you enjoy school and have enough funds for another 2.5 years then why not? This will give you the ability to work for the next ten years doing something you enjoy and it will also give you another year and a half to figure out what that something is.
  10. Dec 16, 2009 #9
    An MBA is often the graduate degree of choice for operations management. You may want to finish your MBA and apply directly to the jobs you are interested in. Employers may or may not care about the IT focus compared to an operations focus. Engineering and business are also the preferred undergrad majors for operations/management.

    Another option may be to finish the MBA, go work for a company that will pay for part-time study, and get another degree part-time while you work. Many large companies do this. United Technologies, for example, gives you a little bit of time to study each week, pays all of your tuition in any subject you want, and gives you a $10,000 bonus when you complete a degree program.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  11. Dec 16, 2009 #10
    This won't help you get into cutting edge engineering that doesn't yet involve much manufacturing, but from the operations management side I don't know if more school would be helpful.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  12. Dec 17, 2009 #11
    Thanks, kote - this and your previous post are very insightful, and helpful! Nearly all of my previous 20 years were spent in various aspects of operations and operations management, so the experience is there. Just need the sheepskin, but was wondering if I really wanted to stick with operations, even in an advanced position (requires masters), or whether I should teach (requires at least a masters), or branch out and be an entrepreneur (no degree required - just insane, long-term drive, vision, and capital).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  13. Dec 17, 2009 #12
    Well I can't help you with that decision :tongue:! Glad to share some links though. I'm early in a career in operations, but I'm not really looking to get out. I'll probably go the MBA route and maybe try to branch into more general/financial management, which isn't really different at all. I'm too boring to have other suggestions :smile:.
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