Tag Archives: industry

Engineering Can Wait

31 Mar

Even though I have 2 degrees from Boston University and live 15 minutes from campus, I’m not a big BU alumni. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t a big fraternity scene or football tailgating parties. For me, it was the city of Boston itself that’s the attraction. Since BU is 1 mile long and a block wide, the campus really becomes the city itself. So I’ve ignored BU attempts at bringing me back.

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The one sport BU is good at is hockey and they’ve been ranked #1 most of this year and are going to the Frozen Four next week. Watching hockey on HD with the boys is almost as good as watching the games live so I’ve been caught up in the BU spirit. And then BU got me at a weak moment and I said, “Yes” to attending a BU Engineering industry night last week.

I’m back on campus, walking thru the student union and knowing that I can’t even pass for a grad student getting their PhD. Obviously not a professor, maybe the parent of one of these kids. Go into the dining room where they’re hosting the event and take a big breath.

The room is full of engineering seniors wanting to mingle with alumni and ask what’s it’s like in the real world. No speeches, just a quick intro and then mingle the crowd so that the kids could ask us questions one-on-one. I told the crowd, “I don’t know why BU ENG asked me to attend as I got out of engineering and into sales within 2 years of graduating BU.” Of all the other alumni, only 1 other wasn’t still in engineering and he was a patent attorney. I figured I’d be left alone for the next 2 hours, scorned for going to the dark side of sales.

Instead, I was mobbed. And I really enjoyed talking with them and was glad I attended. Why? Because I can remember being in their place and knowing I had spent so many hours studying to be an engineer, hours that my English and Business major friends were spending in the bars downtown. I can remember that eager but tight feeling of, “I have to get a Engineering job right now” without realizing that working for the next 40 years is what’s ahead of me. After all, I thought 30 year olds were due Social Security benefits when I was graduating BU. Just no concept of 4 years of school vs 40 years of working.

What these kids wanted to hear from me that it’s OK not to do the expected and get the obligatory engineering job right away. So I told them it’s OK. Be a (gasp) sales person. Join the Peace Corp, get a teaching job, be a bartender or ski instructor, travel the world if you can. Take some time to discover what you love to do. That job will be waiting when you’re ready.