Not happy with working life

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vco
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I am about 30 years old and I have come to realize I do not really enjoy my work. Actually, it is more like I do not enjoy working life. But studying was something I did enjoy very much (not student life, but actual studying).

I miss the mathematics that was so strongly present when studying. I am a mechanical engineer (a field I like very much), and although my current work is very much on the theoretical side, it is not theoretical enough. I have considered a career in the academia, but that would mean a significant reduction in pay and also in job security. In addition, I absolutely hate teaching.

I have considered pursuing a career in physics, but the problem is that there is not really much going on in classical mechanics there, which is my passion. If I won a couple of million euros in the lottery and could retire right now, I would probably spend my time just reading everything there is about classical mechanics, structural mechanics, fluid mechanics, calculus of variations, etc.

I have good social skills, but deep down I am very asocial. I need time to "recharge". That is why I insist on living in a rural area, which unfortunately limits my job options. Urbanization really is a bummer.

Anyone else in a similar situation? Am I being too picky with my career and life?
 

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  • #2
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From your post here, you are the consummate engineer. Everything you've said speaks to engineering. I would continue doing your job but develop some good hobbies based on cool engineering challenges and in turn these may develop in interesting work projects depending on the type of work done at your company.

As an example, there is a thriving DIY community where folks are building stuff and being quite creative. Using your engineering skills and hooking up with these communities there's no doubt you will have a lot of fun.

One particular area is mechatronics and robotics where you could design some mechanical features of a robot critter, a dog or insect or something cool. Of course, you'd probably need to learn electronics, programming, some Machine Learning and related tech to make the whole package but it is different and it is challenging.

If you're more theoretical then perhaps challenging yourself with applications of Origami engineering or underwater exploration would be of interest. In the underwater category there is the OpenROV project where you can learn and design your own underwater drone. In the Origami engineering world, there are applications in satellite solar shield unfolding and from there you might other interesting work.

If you're into biking then there's folks who are trying to design the next great mode of transportation and you could begin learning about.

On the extreme theoretical side, there's the famous Navier Stokes Equation challenge although that may be too highly mathematical.

Lastly, there's the XPRIZE challenges for world hunger, natural disaster... where engineers can really make a difference.
 
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  • #3
berkeman
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If you're into biking then there's folks who are trying to design the next great mode of transportation and you could begin learning about.
I'd be interested in reading about that. Can you post a link or two? Thanks! :smile:
 
  • #4
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Most of the bike ideas wind up being Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns so you can see what they’re thinking and come up with your variation.

There was the now defunct kiffy in France and others:




I liked the kiffy because of the three wheel design and the frontend luggage feature but it was just too pricey. I have a Dahon folder that's nice for 10 to 20 mile jaunts.

There are still many other designs that I've seen and a book I got that's somewhat dated that I can't find on Amazon. However, I did find these:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1452101671/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1623361311/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1465443932/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #5
berkeman
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I need time to "recharge". That is why I insist on living in a rural area, which unfortunately limits my job options. Urbanization really is a bummer.
I live and work in Silicon Valley, so I know very well what you mean. I went through high school in the country (Napa Valley), and really enjoyed the country life. Unfortunately, the best jobs in EE are generally in industrial centers as you say, so my working life has been largely spent in city sprawl.

Luckily, my wife and I were looking to find a place that was a bit more rural, but still not too far from our work in the city, and we found a wonderful compromise. We found townhouses and a community right next to one of the local "East Bay Regional Parks" in the foothills east of San Jose, CA. We have a park trailhead about 100 meters from our front door, which makes it easy to go running, biking and hiking in the park. The road from San Jose up into the foothills is very steep and windy, so there is not much traffic that passes through our community except for the neighbors. It's a wonderfully isolated area, but literally only 20 minutes from downtown San Jose and 30 minutes from my work in the middle of Silicon Valley.

So my point is that maybe if you look around a bit, you will be able to find a better living arrangement that will let you have a place to decompress away from work, but it still a relatively easy commute for you. I didn't think it was possible around here, but we got lucky and found this place. I'll attach a recent picture looking out our back door to give you an idea... :smile:

Good advice also from @jedishrfu about ways to branch out in your work and personal projects. My side projects are also a respite from the grinds of R&D EE work. Best of luck. :smile:

Bigger Forked Horn Fixed.jpg
 

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  • #6
CWatters
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Perhaps its a USA thing? Here in the UK most of the enginering design jobs will also be in urban areas but you don't have to live in an urban area. I live in a small village where people keep chickens, horses and free range children. There are three cities including Cambridge about 30-40 mins by car. Further north you have big cities like Sheffield with strong links to Aerospace industries inc companies like Rolls Royce. Not far out of Sheffield you have the spectacular scenery of the Peak District. You certainly can find jobs that allow you to live in a reasonably rural area and work for a globally important company based in a nearby city.
 
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  • #7
berkeman
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where people keep chickens, horses and free range children.
LOL. :biggrin:

I read and re-read your sentence, thinking that I was having a dyslexic moment... o0)
 
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  • #8
DrDu
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I am about 30 years old and I have come to realize I do not really enjoy my work.
Then change work, now! With 30, you have first working experience and are most attractive to potential employers. You are probably still not bound to one place because of family, children, etc. With 40, things will be much harder to change.
 
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  • #9
verty
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I would advise moving but staying in the same job, or look for another job with the same skills. The idea is this: you can walk into any job with those skills and perhaps with new people around you it'll be better. But especially if you try to change career, you'll be starting at the start again and you have a good thing going already. It's hard to start over, you really have to be full of energy and you need to recharge. If you move to a rural area and do a similar but new job, it should ease it a bit.

Also don't quit and then look, look while you are in the job, just don't tell anyone. It's perfectly ethical and employers who want your skills will know they are up to date. Another idea is to work for a bigger company, so there are more people to talk to.
 
  • #10
jrmichler
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That is why I insist on living in a rural area, which unfortunately limits my job options. Urbanization really is a bummer.
There are mechanical engineering jobs outside the big cities. My first job was in a city of 18,000, then grad school in a city of 8,000, then a job in a city of 1,600, then a city of 8,000. All of these were real engineering jobs where I actually needed to think.

but that would mean a significant reduction in pay and also in job security.
Do be aware that employers in small cities know full well that they do not need to pay big city wages to hire good engineers. If a large salary is important to you, then forget a job away from a big city.
 
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  • #11
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That is why I insist on living in a rural area, which unfortunately limits my job options. Urbanization really is a bummer.
Have you considered working for the government/military or their contractors? Lots of jobs at various warfare centers and labs in areas that are quite rural
 
  • #12
DennisN
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I have good social skills, but deep down I am very asocial. I need time to "recharge".
You sound like me. You sound like an introvert. :smile:
No problem at all, there are many introverts (and probably many on this forum) and there are more to the term that people usually think of. Psychologically, it's not so much about social things, introversion versus extraversion is about where we tend to focus our attention, i.e. if we preferably focus on the internal world (thoughts) or the external world. See Extraversion and introversion (BMJ, 2004, http://www.bmj.com/content/329/7474/s191). Quote:
Article said:
Introvert and extravert
[...]
When you're ambling along deep in thought, not noticing the people you pass, or the noise of the traffic—when nothing short of a cloudburst would draw your attention to what is around you—you are focusing on your internal world (introversion). When you are chatting with people, watching events, engaging in a group activity, or noticing your environment, you are focusing on your external world (extraversion).

We all focus attention in both places, many times a day, but we have a preference for one or the other, and we tend to be energised by that place, and drained by the other.
That is why I insist on living in a rural area, which unfortunately limits my job options. Urbanization really is a bummer.
Introverts can very well live in cities of course, very many do and I am one of them. There are less densely populated areas in cities, there are suburbs etc. Though, if you have grown up and are used to rural areas, you may be quite used to rural areas, which means there might be a transition period before you get used to living close to or in a city.
 
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  • #13
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I think we've pretty much covered the OPs question and since he has decided not to respond further, I think its time to close this thread.

Thank you all for contributing here.

Jedi
 

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