Frenchee

What do you do for a living?

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Here is the same advice I am giving my son as he is a senior in high school this year.

FIND YOUR PASSION.

If you work in your passion, your work will seem less like work.

One bit of advice I heard from another dad was to tell their child to take a chance now, while you are young. It's much easier to recover when you have less at stake or invested. I've been in my career for 20 plus years. If I decided tomorrow to change direction, I have a lot more to consider- my wife, my son, my home, our investments... Take your chances now.

Especially in the Bay Area, the push is for all kids to go to a four year college, get that degree, then... College is not for everybody, and there are many people that spend the $80k or more to get a degree only to decide they want to go in a different direction. We're pushing our son into his passion of music (drumming). It may be a mentorship or an arts school or recording industry internship, or who knows.

My career- I'm a Biomedical Engineer. In basic terms, I fix pretty much anything that gets handed to me at the hospital. It may be a big lab analyzer, an anesthesia machine, or safety checking a toaster. I started out at a vocational school for electronics and then did 7 years in the Navy as a Data Systems tech. Military is NOT a bad choice, just make sure you go in with a plan otherwise they will put you wherever (front line).

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taking apart a 37 year old bmw is an incredible meditational counterpart to troubleshooting computers!

That is so true. There is something cathartic about the simplicity and good well thought out engineering of the 2002 after spending the day fighting with poorly coded software. That might be my new mantra.

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financial planning/portfolio management for 26yrs so far (14 to go)

great career, everything changes daily, get to help people which was a key for me.

did a lot of restaraunt work and mechanical/hydraulic engineering to get thru school

you're so young, looking back, follow your heart and passion. life is too short to be caught in a job you don't like.

"find a career you're passionate about and you'll never go to work again" or something like that

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I am in the freight/logistics business, managing the ocean freight division for a regional trucking company headquartered in Alabama.

After doing basically the same for over 20 years, I would love to open my own business in a totally unrelated field.

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Wow! I can't believe some of the jobs you guys have, really cool. I've just turned 33 and have worked as a graphic designer since I was 18. Late last year I took the plunge and took on a printing.com franchise, opened up an office and all that. It's been a big risk as my partner and I are just about to celebrate our son's first birthday, I have no money and the economy is still pretty tough. But I love my job (mostly!), and have faith that it will work out. I would echo others here and advise you to follow your heart, I think that is the way to find greatest happiness in my opinion (for what it's worth). Like others have said, if you realise you're in the wrong trade you can find something else to do I'm sure!

Good luck!

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It's been said before but it's worth repeating.

Do something you like. The money will take care of itself.

I chased the money. Got a BA in economics, worked at a bank in foreign exchange trading. Made great money. Hated it. I realized I wanted to work with people. I got into management. I was the business administrator of an architecture and engineering firm. Made good money. Hated it. I worked in a construction company as a purchasing agent. Hated it. I worked in a food catering company, did construction contracting (wanted to work with my hands) opened and ran a auto repair business and several other short-lived ventures... hated all of it.

I went back to school and got a teaching credential. I teach high school mathematics. I love it. The pay is not great but the schedule is nice. But I don't see it as work. I enjoy every day. It's fun. This is my 16th year and I have no regrets. It's not for everyone, but it's perfect for me.

The good schedule does allow me to spend more time with my family and more time for my hobbies.

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I got into o2s because of one of my "fun" jobs as a teen. I was a lot boy for a used car dealer in Central Illinois. He had a '76 o2 which I used to ferry customers and parts for a summer. I thought that car was awesome...it was. I later went to the University of Illinois, Aeronautical Engineering, on the 8 year college plan. My dad got tired of that and forced an official hiatus from school to take my current job. I've been at it for 30 years as an Air Traffic Control Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration. Fun work and awesome job security/benifits. They even let me go back to school to finish my degree in Mathematics. About to retire now, need to find that second career.

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bills2002

We are Options on the call sign. I'm in the 700's Like OPT 712, 709 etc..

John

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I became a nurse. Not by way of the U.S. Military, though that is not a bad way to do it. I work 12 hr. night shifts on a cardiac unit. My dad wanted all 3 of us to be doctors & engineers. Well, he got a ChemE, a Dentist, and an RN. I tried Engineering school & it was nearly the death of me. In my 30's, I volunteered on a cardiac unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati which was fascinating. I went back to school to get my BSN with HUGE amounts of love & support from Mary.... The bad guys have not found a way to export my job nor automated it to where I am obsolete. It does not get dull, let me tell you. Put a group of RN's in a room & the stories will flow: some are funny, some are tragic, some are shocking, and then some are truly inspiring. We see ALL KINDS of stuff. :)

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Thanks for starting this thread Frenchee, as I am in a similar boat. I agree- do what you love. Me, well I love music, basketball, and cars. So right now I'm pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at CSULB (although may be transferring out of state soon). With the degree I hope to do product planning/marketing for an automotive company, and would especially love to work for a start-up company that has a new fresh idea. But if those dreams fail, I would love to fall back on music as it's been a huge part of my life. Perhaps sound engineer? Who knows. It seems like a lot of the people here have bounced around from different places, which is all part of the adventure. Part of me also wants to be a high school physics teacher, perhaps I'll end up doing that (?).

What I do think is interesting is that I my friends and I have seemed to bypass all of the odd side-jobs that people here had to get them to where they are now. A lot of my friends work selling clothing in retail stores. I happen to be a valet at weddings and special events. Perhaps it's just my demographic.

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Captain in the Merchant Marine. Used to be on Coastal Tankers in the North East, but now I run an 8000 HP Tug pushing a 500 foot barge loaded with nearly 6,000,000 gallons of Gasoline or Ethanol at a pop. Started when I was 17, and March will be 40 years for me. I work three weeks on and then I'm off for three weeks.

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Neat thread.

I am a project manager for a general contracting firm (commercial)

by way of a residential general contractor,

by the way of driving nails and pushing wheel barrows,

by the way of laboratory research technician with a college degree major in biology

As others have said, find what you enjoy, but don't think it will happen overnight, you have lots of time, enjoy the road too, as much as possible.

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There is something cathartic about the simplicity and good well thought out engineering of the 2002 after spending the day fighting with poorly coded software.

Word to the mother, soul brother. By 5:00 PM Monday-Friday I usually have such a demonic hatred for the software that I've wrestled with all day that I'm ready to dive under a moving school bus, tattoo a wiring diagram on a hungry bobcat, or work on a 2002. Working on a 2002 usually provides more tangible results and satisfaction, and occasionally involves less physical pain and suffering than the other two activities. I've yet to combine more than two of the above activities, so it's possible there are some subtle nuances to be explored, and benefits to be gained from multi-tasking.

Like many of the other posters here, I've taken a few twists and turns during the course of my career. I studied engineering, accounting, finance and mathematics in university, and earned degrees in all except engineering. I dropped engineering after working as a summer intern for a civil engineering firm and noting that the employees usually worked 50+ hours/week and many weekends to make up for poor project and financial management practices. I told my parents that I'd be damned if I was going to work more than 40 hours a week as an engineer; instead I'd go into business and work a 40 hour week. After all, everybody knows the business week is 40 hours. They looked at me rather strangely (this was, and still is, a common response) and dropped the topic.

After graduation from university I went right into public accounting for the firm that was subsequently embroiled in the ENRON scandal. (NOTE: the ENRON thing was LONG after I left the firm, so I had nothing to do with your 401k plan taking a nosedive.) My dad called me on the Saturday following my first full work week, and asked how my 40-hour work week was going. I told him that it was great; I was done with 40 hours by Wednesday, and if he'd hang up quickly I could finish my second 40 hours before dinner, and tackle some of the extra work I was eager to complete by midnight on Sunday. So the joke was on me.

Moral of this portion of the story: get LOTS of advice, and cross-check that advice for consistency and arithmetic errors. Had someone told me that the 40-hour work week wasn't really going to apply to me given my interest in solving complex puzzles, I would have given a lot more thought to changing my career plans. I wish to hell I'd gone into engineering. I loved it, got good grades, and got a lot of satisfaction from designing and building things.

For the past 17 years I've been working primarily at small software companies, with many long work weeks (80 hours isn't too uncommon, and there have been months of 100+ hour work weeks in there too many times to count.) I've built and run a division of a company, worked in more than 20 developing, post-conflict and transitional countries, seen a lot of interesting things, learned more about the politics and corruption of public finance than I care to discuss, met many interesting people, and learned some valuable life lessons. I've also learned that establishing a work/non-work balance in life is just as, or more important than the money earned, the honors bestowed, or the length of one's résumé.

As several folks have stated, you should take risks when you're young, and pursue your dreams while you can. And don't forget about your dreams--you can pursue them all your life.

Best of luck with your decisions, and the outcomes thereof.

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Frenchee,

I'm a controller for a wholesale petroleum company but don't ask me how I got here. I have BFA in sculpture with a minor in art history. Too many people think of universities as trade schools and I think that's a mistake.

In todays world a degree goes a long way and it's getting more important every day. But go learn about what you have a passion for, get that degree in what ever and the rest will work out.

Good Luck

Rich

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Update:

After a major restructuring at my prior company (Stanley Black & Decker), I'm back in the Bicycle Industry (Fox Racing Shox) as the Engineering Manager for Sustaining & Value Engineering activities.

Really happy to be back in an industry that makes enthusiast-based products

WAS:

"I’m currently a Principal Engineer handling materials selection and finish development at a major Security Hardware manufacturer.

In high school, I thought I would be an Electrical or Mechanical Engineer but in university I found materials more interesting and got a Metallurgical Engineering degree.

After university – I did research work on Titanium alloys & Nickel-based Superalloys for Aerospace (interesting work but a little too focused).

Took a side project helping a bicycle company look into manufacturing Titanium frames and ended up doing a stint in the Bicycle Industry designing & manufacturing Steel, Aluminum, & Titanium bicycle frames & components (really fun but kind of low $$)

Wanted to make more $$ and ended up at my current gig – pretty happy as I’m able to apply much of what I do to my car hobby.

Don’t be afraid of taking some chances and following YOUR interests – it makes it a lot easier to weather the inevitable highs & lows of any job.

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