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  #1  
Old 08-26-2011, 10:24 PM
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Default Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

First of all, this thread does not have anything to do with looking for a good music college. I am very passionate about music and drumming, but I'm fairly certain I want it to remain for me a hobby. Second, I know a drumming forum isn't necessarily the best place to go when seeking life advice. I certainly don't expect any of you to tell me what to do. It's something I ultimately have to figure out on my own, I know. But I'm sure many of you are musicians second to a primary occupation, and therefore many of you have more experience than I have. Third, I understand if none of you have anything to contribute due to a lack of interest in my situation; I don't think that I am particularly unique in terms of the questions and concerns I possess, but I figure it can't hurt to reach out and hope for some kind of response that is more personal than what the results of a Google search could provide.

I'm entering my senior year of high school, so the college searching process has begun. I've determined that I have two main barriers that are keeping me from knowing what I want to do with my life:

1. I don't know what profession(s) I will sincerely enjoy. Yes, I know what my interests are, but I don't know how they correlate with real-world occupations.

2. I am concerned about financial success. Who isn't, though? I feel like this barrier is restricting me from seeing what my true professional passion is, or could be, simply because I am worried not being able to support myself.

I'll share a bit about myself. I took Physics 1 last year, and I loved it. I like math, English is good, too, I just don't really care for history. I've always been an artistic person, with other hobbies such as writing, drawing, and, most recently, composing music. I also love movies, and even thought about being a screenwriter at one point. I don't have some huge portfolio, and I'm surely not the most skilled at any of those things, but the point is, I love being creative. I also like to think of myself as a good problem-solver, and I love using logic (not the application). I am a thinker, a spectator. I don't talk much, even within my group of friends, as I like to sit back and watch social interactions, noting how things unfold.

A minute from my stream of consciousness: Okay, so I like physics. Does that mean I will like engineering? I mean, civil engineering sounds pretty cool, but what do you do on the job? Would I like computer engineering? Well, I don't know, computers don't have much to do with the area of physics that I studied last year, so... Wait, I like music. Maybe, if not performance, I could study recording arts! No, there probably aren't many jobs available in that field, and the pay probably isn't too great unless you are well-known and sought after... so how do you get sought after? Well, you probably have to start your own business, and I don't want to do that, because there are a bunch of other studios out there, and there's no guarantee that anyone will want to utilize my services...

Those are just some basic thoughts and questions that cross my mind when thinking about career paths. I'd love to get some input from any engineers (not recording), whether mechanical, civil, computer, whatever, and just hear what you have to say about the industry and what you do from day-to-day. I don't know if there are any engineers on this forum, though. I've also taken a look at the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook which describes the whole range of jobs, including what normal activities are, future job opening predictions, and, of course, earnings. But there always seems to be a disadvantage for every advantage. For example, most civil engineers and architects are listed as having a pretty good salary, but the field is predicted be pretty competitive. So those are just little things I worry about that seem to be preventing me from recognizing and settling with what I truly want to do.

I realize that some of these uncertainties may resolve themselves as time passes and I transition from high school to college. But it is difficult to choose a college when I don't know what majors to be looking for. Up to this point, I have been considering schools that have a wide range of programs (in the likely case that I will want to try several things). However, I'm NOT looking for specific college recommendations from you guys. I'm mainly wondering if and how you have discovered a job that you really enjoy, and how one gets past financial concerns. This last request is a big stretch, but I'll put it out there, regardless: if anyone has any occupation suggestions based on my mini-biography, I'll gladly look into them.

One of my favorite college-related sayings (paraphrased, no plagiarism intended): "You have to get loans so you can go to college so you can get a job so you can pay off your loans."

Anyway, thanks for reading.
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Can't go wrong with Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering, or anything related to Computer Information Systems. Environmental Engineering is growing like crazy. Even in this bad economy, the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are hiring like mad. And they all pay well.

With any of these careers there will be a technical and a business side to them, so you can choose what is best for you as far as that goes. Do something you enjoy for sure, but also be employable -- and with the career paths you have in mind, I don't think employment will be a challenge for you.
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Old 08-27-2011, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

I always recommend starting your own business. That way you're the boss. In these uncertain economic times I wouldn't want to rely on some impersonal company to sustain me.
You seem like an intelligent person. I started my own electrical business because I never wanted to work for anyone. Best decision I ever made.
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Old 08-27-2011, 02:54 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Typo, you strike me as someone who would enjoy science - you get the math, the physics (in some fields), deep thinking. There's also mathematics as a core discipline. Having said that, those fields don't pay so well (although not as badly as music).

Rule of thumb is, the more likely the field is something many people do as a hobby, the lower the pay. So designers and musicians are paid far less than lawyers and accountants. For instance, I work in HR analytics so I see my salary as a reward for being able to (overtly) cope with the soul-sucking tedium of it all lol

The pay for engineering is good and there always seems to be a skills shortage in that area.

Most programmers I've known were tying to get into something else. The ones who were happy doing it tended to be Asperger type personalities. It seems to me that the field tends to wear people down a bit.

Hope this helps.

PS. Keep It Simple would be a good person to ask about engineering.
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:39 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Computer sciences, medicine, which good be Doctor, Nurse, technician, or bio sciences. Someone has to program, design and repair all of the techno equipment used in medicine today. wish I could start over.
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:28 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Hi Typo
Have good as a mechanical engineer for the past 35 years! Keep drumming as a serious part time professional hobby.
This most likely keep doing local and regional gigs! I do about 30 to 40 gigs per year and have some students.
it has work for me.
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Mechanical Engineer is, in my opinion and others, the most well rounded undergraduate degree. From an undergraduate degree in Mechanical engineering you can either go onto higher education and study law, or medicine, or other engineering fields or use it for a career in totally unrelated fields.

I do not know of any field that is immune to these economic times but, I know many mechanical engineers who are still working and able to find jobs in these times.

I have been able to keep working in mechanical now for over 25 years. I find the field very creative. Things have changed over the years and a lot of manufacturing is overseas now.
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:04 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Give a try:

Gas Reservoir Exploration
Cost Estimate
Safety Engineering
Logistics & Materials
Civil Engineering
Structure Engineering...not too many in the field.

Good luck mate!
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Last edited by Ian Williams; 08-27-2011 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Mechanical...focus on energy systems! You'll be all set for the next 80 years. Denis
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Thanks to everyone. I know replying to a topic like this isn't exactly fun or easy, but each one means a lot. I like all the positive energy! Sorry for not getting back sooner; all this stuff is still churning in my head. Not to say I've been stressed with it, I think I just need to let things happen naturally for a bit.

denisri and evolving_machine, what do you find yourselves doing during an average day at work? And yes, I'm sure all fields related to the environment will be thriving for a long time, so that's something to look into also.

EDIT: Oh, larryace, I read your suggestion, and I first thought that I would never do something like that. But then, I realized that by starting my own business, I could have complete creative control over logos, websites, etc. An interesting thought.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

I'll tell you this, I got out of the military and thought I wanted to teach. I always had a dream to provide motivation to students and get them excited to learn and take on life, as I never had that with my teachers growing up. However, halfway through college I did my internship with a 5th grade class and SCREEEEEECH! I knew it wasn't for me. I was terrified though. I was almost done with school and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I only knew that I did not want to do the only thing I was (almost) qualified to do. The old lady told me that it was better to spend the time starting over with a new goal than to spend a LIFETIME doing something you hate. For me, I knew that I loved the outdoors, I loved nature and I loved helping people. So, I changed my major to criminal justice and within the year I will be a DNR officer (also known as a conservation officer, wildlife police or game warden). I will never make a rich mans dollar, but I WILL be happy! Take the time to find out who you are, what makes you smile and be at your best. Think about that and how you can incorporate that into your everyday life. Best o' luck, friend!
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

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Originally Posted by OrangeAgent27 View Post
I'll tell you this, I got out of the military and thought I wanted to teach. I always had a dream to provide motivation to students and get them excited to learn and take on life, as I never had that with my teachers growing up. However, halfway through college I did my internship with a 5th grade class and SCREEEEEECH! I knew it wasn't for me. I was terrified though. I was almost done with school and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I only knew that I did not want to do the only thing I was (almost) qualified to do. The old lady told me that it was better to spend the time starting over with a new goal than to spend a LIFETIME doing something you hate. For me, I knew that I loved the outdoors, I loved nature and I loved helping people. So, I changed my major to criminal justice and within the year I will be a DNR officer (also known as a conservation officer, wildlife police or game warden). I will never make a rich mans dollar, but I WILL be happy! Take the time to find out who you are, what makes you smile and be at your best. Think about that and how you can incorporate that into your everyday life. Best o' luck, friend!
Wow, that story is so relieving. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:53 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

I do have much to reply. I won't do it now as I have background noise and other distractions going on. However, I will reply soon.
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Old 08-31-2011, 04:14 AM
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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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Old 08-31-2011, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Thanks for the insight. It's great to hear that hobbies have a chance of surviving in the engineering life. So does that variety of jobs come from a single employer? That's quite a range, which I would think is good to keep things from becoming too monotonous.

The reason why I thought I might be interested in civil/architecture fields is because that's mainly the type of stuff dealt with in Physics 1, like forces and gravity. I'm taking AP Physics and AP Computer Science this year; the former focuses a lot on circuits, so I'll get a taste of the electrical side of engineering (assuming that's what it is).
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Old 09-08-2011, 09:16 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Sorry to be bumping my own thread, but WOW! After browsing the forums earlier today, I found this thread, and it got me really excited. Those are the kinds of things I love thinking about. I tried to come up with an equation that would give me the force of the beater striking the head, and although it probably wasn't worth doing (due to the fact that it is quite difficult to measure Newtons and m/s without the proper equipment), I really enjoyed thinking about it.

Also, I wonder if KBadd forgot to return? I'm very eager to hear what he has to say!
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:37 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Did not forget.....................need time to write. I will.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Okay. I apologize if my remark came off as impatient. There's no rush or obligation, you're doing me the favor!
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Old 09-09-2011, 03:25 AM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

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First of all, this thread does not have anything to do with looking for a good music college. I am very passionate about music and drumming, but I'm fairly certain I want it to remain for me a hobby. Second, I know a drumming forum isn't necessarily the best place to go when seeking life advice. I certainly don't expect any of you to tell me what to do. It's something I ultimately have to figure out on my own, I know. But I'm sure many of you are musicians second to a primary occupation, and therefore many of you have more experience than I have. Third, I understand if none of you have anything to contribute due to a lack of interest in my situation; I don't think that I am particularly unique in terms of the questions and concerns I possess, but I figure it can't hurt to reach out and hope for some kind of response that is more personal than what the results of a Google search could provide.

I'm entering my senior year of high school, so the college searching process has begun. I've determined that I have two main barriers that are keeping me from knowing what I want to do with my life:

1. I don't know what profession(s) I will sincerely enjoy. Yes, I know what my interests are, but I don't know how they correlate with real-world occupations.

2. I am concerned about financial success. Who isn't, though? I feel like this barrier is restricting me from seeing what my true professional passion is, or could be, simply because I am worried not being able to support myself.

I'll share a bit about myself. I took Physics 1 last year, and I loved it. I like math, English is good, too, I just don't really care for history. I've always been an artistic person, with other hobbies such as writing, drawing, and, most recently, composing music. I also love movies, and even thought about being a screenwriter at one point. I don't have some huge portfolio, and I'm surely not the most skilled at any of those things, but the point is, I love being creative. I also like to think of myself as a good problem-solver, and I love using logic (not the application). I am a thinker, a spectator. I don't talk much, even within my group of friends, as I like to sit back and watch social interactions, noting how things unfold.

A minute from my stream of consciousness: Okay, so I like physics. Does that mean I will like engineering? I mean, civil engineering sounds pretty cool, but what do you do on the job? Would I like computer engineering? Well, I don't know, computers don't have much to do with the area of physics that I studied last year, so... Wait, I like music. Maybe, if not performance, I could study recording arts! No, there probably aren't many jobs available in that field, and the pay probably isn't too great unless you are well-known and sought after... so how do you get sought after? Well, you probably have to start your own business, and I don't want to do that, because there are a bunch of other studios out there, and there's no guarantee that anyone will want to utilize my services...

Those are just some basic thoughts and questions that cross my mind when thinking about career paths. I'd love to get some input from any engineers (not recording), whether mechanical, civil, computer, whatever, and just hear what you have to say about the industry and what you do from day-to-day. I don't know if there are any engineers on this forum, though. I've also taken a look at the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook which describes the whole range of jobs, including what normal activities are, future job opening predictions, and, of course, earnings. But there always seems to be a disadvantage for every advantage. For example, most civil engineers and architects are listed as having a pretty good salary, but the field is predicted be pretty competitive. So those are just little things I worry about that seem to be preventing me from recognizing and settling with what I truly want to do.

I realize that some of these uncertainties may resolve themselves as time passes and I transition from high school to college. But it is difficult to choose a college when I don't know what majors to be looking for. Up to this point, I have been considering schools that have a wide range of programs (in the likely case that I will want to try several things). However, I'm NOT looking for specific college recommendations from you guys. I'm mainly wondering if and how you have discovered a job that you really enjoy, and how one gets past financial concerns. This last request is a big stretch, but I'll put it out there, regardless: if anyone has any occupation suggestions based on my mini-biography, I'll gladly look into them.

One of my favorite college-related sayings (paraphrased, no plagiarism intended): "You have to get loans so you can go to college so you can get a job so you can pay off your loans."

Anyway, thanks for reading.
OK. Here goes: You are a smart dude. Period. The fact that you wrote what you wrote shows this is true. My opinion is....take Business courses and Marketing courses in college. ALSO take Engineering...if you love it. I was an "Operating Engineer"....and I hated it. I am a "Businessman" nowadays! Ha! Better choice. I love people and THAT is what has made me "successful".....whatever that means. JOBS are a dime a dozen.....LOVE what you do everyday (like I do) and you will never work.... EVER. (I am also a professional musician......."I get paid to play").

You "don't know what major to choose" so you " don't know which college to choose"??????? R U F'n kidding me? R U? Look, maestro, you DON"T KNOW HOW FORTUNATE YOU ARE, apparently. Start to get it NOW. This is the right forum for this because we are all drummers working for the same ....long term....cause. Business is business is business....you cannot go wrong.

I am not mean or mad or anything....but you are 18 yrs old and....you don't get it yet. HOWEVER....YOU WILL!!! You are a tough guy! Power on dude!! I want this to help.........I hope it does. KBadd------------------------------------enjoying your J-O-B is NOT as important as enjoying your LIFE. Peace.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Looking to the future: What career is right for me?

Early in high school I decided I didn't want to be a pilot anymore and dropped my math & science and pursued writing and A/V with intent of journalism. After attending college in the school of journalism for a year and a half I realized that integrity wasn't as important as a proper citation to back the story up. In other words anyone can write the story before doing the research, there's just too many publishings to help an unbiased article. Not that you can't, but if I wanted to get an A on a paper I could write it in 30 minutes or spend hours doing it morally right. (For more information on this read fox news.)

My disenfranchisement complete, I paid for pre-calc and physics classes I would have got for free in high school to transfer into the CompSci program. I graduated with enough credits for almost 2 majors, extended my stay by a year on top of filling every summer as a half-time student, worked 30+ hours a week year round. I'm now a senior software engineer and it isn't all easy but I enjoy the field and my job more than I would had I stuck it out.

The background of journalism was one of the key factors in getting me hired, technical writing ability was heavily desired.

Whatever you choose to do it's never to late to change your mind or pick up a new skill, but it will cost you. If you enjoy math and science as much as I do go with that, every job needs a good problem solver and that's a skill that applies everywhere.

FYI many developers are reaching retirement age, and IT isn't experiencing the same recession right now that other fields are. This will be a mass exodus of people leaving a large need for talent that isn't seen too often because "IT" wasn't around two generations ago.
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