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What was your big break?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hey, I'm new to the forum. I've been lurking for a while from time to time and thought this would be a good place to post this. First let me tell you about myself. I'm a recent grad, went to a great school for mechanical engineering, I got lucky. Discovered alcohol and women - never looked back, started to absolutely hate the actually school part of college. Did not take advantage of anything my school offered me. However, I did graduated in 4 years, did slightly below average, but I am definitely not of below average intelligence. It is disgusting how little effort I put into my studies. Finding a job was extremely difficult, the only thing appealing about me was the school I went to, and when you are competing with everyone else that went to your school, you got nothing. Anyways, I got lucky again, and weaseled my way into a job with one of the big 3 auto companies. Got a pretty crap deal but I had nothing else. Turns out it is a really great job though, especially for a first job, some program management, engineering work, dealing with suppliers and plants - I hit the jackpot in that sense. I am fully responsible for a sub system that is utilizing new technology that the company plans to extend to many of its vehicles. The reason for this post is I am absolutely terrified that I am not going to get anywhere with my career. What I mean by this is, I work with engineers who have 10-15 years experience and they essentially have the same job I have right now. I do NOT want to be doing this in 10 years. I kinda went through the motions of school, and for my career, I do not want to just sit back and go through the motions again. I have changed a lot, my life has changed a lot in the past few years, but now I am back living with my parents to save up money in my boring home town. I like change, I welcome it, I encourage it, but now I feel like the potential for change has diminished in the near future. I believe that things may just happen, but to be successful you need to make them happen - something I have not been doing. So, to those of you who got a big break in your careers. What was it and what did you do to make sure it happened? How did you progress from your first job? I want to be somewhere else in 5-7 years, and the only thing I can think of is getting experience and trying to go back to school for a MBA at a good school. But i feel like that is a very generic/overplayed plan. And if I don't have the right connections, I may just become an overqualified engineer.
post #2 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by therussian View Post
Hey, I'm new to the forum. I've been lurking for a while from time to time and thought this would be a good place to post this.

First let me tell you about myself. I'm a recent grad, went to a great school for mechanical engineering, I got lucky. Discovered alcohol and women - never looked back, started to absolutely hate the actually school part of college. Did not take advantage of anything my school offered me. However, I did graduated in 4 years, did slightly below average, but I am definitely not of below average intelligence. It is disgusting how little effort I put into my studies. Finding a job was extremely difficult, the only thing appealing about me was the school I went to, and when you are competing with everyone else that went to your school, you got nothing. Anyways, I got lucky again, and weaseled my way into a job with one of the big 3 auto companies. Got a pretty crap deal but I had nothing else. Turns out it is a really great job though, especially for a first job, some program management, engineering work, dealing with suppliers and plants - I hit the jackpot in that sense. I am fully responsible for a sub system that is utilizing new technology that the company plans to extend to many of its vehicles.

The reason for this post is I am absolutely terrified that I am not going to get anywhere with my career. What I mean by this is, I work with engineers who have 10-15 years experience and they essentially have the same job I have right now. I do NOT want to be doing this in 10 years. I kinda went through the motions of school, and for my career, I do not want to just sit back and go through the motions again. I have changed a lot, my life has changed a lot in the past few years, but now I am back living with my parents to save up money in my boring home town. I like change, I welcome it, I encourage it, but now I feel like the potential for change has diminished in the near future.

I believe that things may just happen, but to be successful you need to make them happen - something I have not been doing. So, to those of you who got a big break in your careers. What was it and what did you do to make sure it happened? How did you progress from your first job?

I want to be somewhere else in 5-7 years, and the only thing I can think of is getting experience and trying to go back to school for a MBA at a good school. But i feel like that is a very generic/overplayed plan. And if I don't have the right connections, I may just become an overqualified engineer.

Welcome to the real world.
post #3 of 32
just because it's a well-trodden path doesn't mean it's a bad one.
post #4 of 32
^ This. Maybe many people have done it because it is the best plan.
post #5 of 32
For every success story there is a million stories of mediocrity. Chances are you are going to be one of those 999 999 people, no matter how hard you work. Get used to it.
post #6 of 32
StyleForum: where dreams get shot down to reality (a bleak one).
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by therussian View Post
But i feel like that is a very generic/overplayed plan. And if I don't have the right connections, I may just become an overqualified engineer.

qft. But sounds like you've been ok with kind of muddling through on an average (or slightly below) track up to now. Why the big change?
post #8 of 32
Jesus, some of you are depressing. This is going to sound trite, but figure out what you enjoy doing (managing people, creating new processes, improving on what's already there) and focus on that. If you generally enjoy the auto industry, congrats. Despite the doom and gloom the global auto industry isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's also big enough that there is lot's of places you can go in it. If you want to get into a different function within your company ask people who's jobs interest you, or you find interesting, out for coffee/lunch. Ask them how they got to where they are, what their job is like on a daily basis and ask yourself if you'd enjoy that. If you like it, figure out what qualifications, experience, etc. you're going to need to get there and start building towards that. You're going to try a lot of different things. A lot of them will not work out, that's okay. You'll be closer to knowing what you are good at. I found this book pretty insightful. It's realistic profiles of people trying to figure out what they like doing as a job. Outside of big accounting, law and consulting the days of a pre-planned career path are pretty much done, so you've got to do this stuff for yourself.
post #9 of 32
Received wisdom tells me that you wont notice your big break. It will be that guy who spilled coffee on you in starbucks, or that class you went to with a friend not expecting much. Real "breaks" rarely happen like in the movies. Your best bet is just living your life and not missing out when you have a chance to meet new people. Alternatively, move to a big city, get a room mate and a minimum wage job. Move upwards from there. Adventure, but it might be a bit gritty to start with.
post #10 of 32
My advice is to be careful of saying 'No'. I'm not saying be a yes man, but when an opportunity arises that may be out of your comfort zone, take a chance on it especially while you are young.

A short personal story, as I was going through similar experience early in my career as an accountant (i mean, I 'm still only 29 so early in my career, but anyways...).

I had a chance 2 years ago to take advantage of an investment opportunity with a friend (we are both under 30), where we bought the assets of a struggling business burdened with debt and turned it into a small, but profitable and successful operation. We both went in with very little personal net worth and in an industry we weren't overly familiar with. So, seeing our weaknesses, we surrounded ourselves with the right people - we've seen growth in our first 2 years and the future looks bright.

I guess everyone's career path will be as different as you choose it to be. My advice is to keep yourself surrounded by the right people and you will be surprised at the opportunities that will arise - just don't be afraid to take them or you'll be 45, hate your job, and counting down until retirement...

Also, join your local rotary club, chamber of commerce, etc, and build your network - best move you can make early in your career IMO.

Good luck!
post #11 of 32
I met DSK at an orgy, we exchanged business cards.
post #12 of 32
To answer the OP, my big break was finding a mentor who changed the way I approached my career and is directly responsible for my current success.
post #13 of 32
Plenty of people who have been in the same position or with the same employer for a long time do so by choice, not because they got "stuck". I work with a bunch of people who are much older than me and doing the same job but all of them are doing it because it fits their personal needs. I'd also add that restlessness can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing. For every one person that "takes a chance" early in their career rather than keeping their head down and getting some valuable experience under their belt there are literally hundreds that are struggling to find work in their thirties with little in the way of sought after work experience on their resume. Seek opportunity and be open to it but remember to be conscious of how the labor market works. You don't just jump out and try new things and then jump back in five years later.
post #14 of 32
I don't see why you wouldn't pursue the MBA path, it is really a silver bullet for people in your situation. Do something "special" in your current job that will make for a nice essay, rock the gmat, then shoot for the stars. It seems like the trend in MBA admissions is to diversify the student body (read accept more applicants with non-finance backgrounds) which should help you out. If you land at a top 10 b-school you will have plenty of opportunities. I would imagine your technical background would be attractive to a lot of companies. Some of the MBAs we hire into our group can barely turn on a computer
post #15 of 32
SF Rule #234: If you don't accept your current role in life, you're a self-entitled complainer. Our lives suck and so should yours.
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