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Old 08-31-2011, 04:14 AM
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MikeM MikeM is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 5,012
Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

So far, I agree with the others who've suggested you look into engineering. I'm an electrical engineer who happened into it almost accidentally.

I was in jr. high when I got my first drum set but my parents didn't want to hear it when they were home, so I basically dropped out of high school (9th grade) so I could stay home all day and play drums. That worked fine for a while (my older siblings had also dropped out so what's one more, right?) but my parents never missed an opportunity to remind me that at 18 I would be on my own.

So at 17 I joined the navy and learned all about boilers, steam turbines, and energy systems as a guy who operated and maintained them. It was great and a real eye-opener: I found that I could be good at anything I tried as long as I applied myself (until then, I thought drumming was my only calling).

After I got out and started playing in bands, I got a boiler license and worked as a maintenance engineer (not a 'real' engineer, more like a mechanic) on the graveyard shift. That was good because I got my first exposure to HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) and the systems that control them. After a couple years of that and getting bored, I decided to start taking classes. I was going to do mechanical engineering since all my previous experience was related to that, but I didn't understand anything about electricity, so I went for that instead.

It took me 7-1/2 years of being a mostly part-time student but I finally graduated. I started working right away designing HVAC and power plant control systems as well as power distribution, lighting, communications and the like. I work on a lot of different types of jobs from fish ladders to college campuses, hospitals, military bases, Boeing production facilities, the list goes on and on. Interesting and engaging stuff, really.

So that's a little about what I do and how I got here. You sound like you'd be a good candidate for engineering since you like math and science, and it's a good path to secure employment. I would give serious consideration to either mechanical or electrical engineering. I'm not as familiar with what the civil or structural types do, but I don't think they get to enjoy as many moving parts.

Lastly, during this whole odyssey, I never had to stop playing drums or take any breaks from playing in bands (except for when I was in the navy, but that more slowed me down than stopped me), but I was never looking for that to be my money-maker (okay, maybe I was very early on...but after my second tour, I thought: naw...).

I do okay financially with the career I've landed in (not rich, but not sweating it either) and I'm glad I don't have to stress about playing music I don't like just because I need the money. Actually, there's too much music I do like for me to spend any time on music I don't like.

Last edited by MikeM; 08-31-2011 at 04:25 AM.
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