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What was your big break?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by therussian, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. therussian

    therussian Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    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.
     
  2. dragon8

    dragon8 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,613
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco
    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.
     
  3. someyoungman

    someyoungman Member

    Messages:
    14
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    houston
    just because it's a well-trodden path doesn't mean it's a bad one.
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,998
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    ^ This. Maybe many people have done it because it is the best plan.
     
  5. ma1

    ma1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    382
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    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.
     
  6. GreenFrog

    GreenFrog Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,235
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    StyleForum: where dreams get shot down to reality (a bleak one).
     
  7. JoelF

    JoelF Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,459
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    MA & NYC
    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?
     
  8. Aaron

    Aaron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,153
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Vancouver and ?
    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.
     
  9. Blackhood

    Blackhood Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,904
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    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.
     
  10. Bean Counter

    Bean Counter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    63
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Location:
    Ontario
    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!
     
  11. Fuuma

    Fuuma Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    25,816
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2004
    I met DSK at an orgy, we exchanged business cards.
     
  12. Eason

    Eason Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,669
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Location:
    Bangkok
    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.
     
  13. Lord-Barrington

    Lord-Barrington Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,811
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    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.
     
  14. nate10184

    nate10184 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,271
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    Location:
    NY, NY
    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 [​IMG]
     
  15. newinny

    newinny Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    482
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    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.
     
  16. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,138
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    SF
    I was in the exact same spot not too long ago.

    I got myself a couple of professional certifications and got a new job to boot.

    However, this new job is whooping my ass and I am now wondering if I made the right move. On paper I did, but honestly, easy cushy jobs are underrated.
     
  17. therussian

    therussian Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    I wouldn't say Ive always muddled through life slightly below average. I rocked high school, but that was just cause it was easy - i was lucky that i got accepted to the school i went to based on the fact i didn't play any sports and wasn't involved in any clubs (bullshit like that). When i got to college i got frustrated with my school because i realized that 90% of my classes were impossibly hard just to be hard. I didn't accept the trade off of studying for countless hours just to do a little better, and with that free time and mentality came a, much different lifestyle [​IMG] The reason why I am thinking about my career kinda harshly from the start is that I have never thought about it before. i was always in the mentality of go to college, get a job. i did that, i got a job, it just feels wrong that i don't have a next step of planned action and the sooner i come up with something and know where i want to be headed, the less likely i would be one of those million people of mediocrity. Also, a smart man once told me engineering is too much work for the pay, which i didn't want to believe when he told me it, but i am definitely starting to see it. I would still like to get an MBA eventually, it is just seeming less realistic. I would be ecstatic if I could go back to the school i took my undergrad at for a MBA (a top 10 B school as well or up there considering what type you want...) but that probably wont happen I've just always felt a pressure from my parents and family to succeed, which to them means make money. Although being an engineer and topping out at 100-120 a year, salary, isn't bad. My dad likes to remind me i could be doing better, i could be making more, on a daily basis. Even though my parents and all my aunts and uncles immigrated here and don't have an education, and out of my cousins and siblings I am the youngest one who went to the best school who is already doing better than most of them. i don't want to sound like i only care because of my dad, he just does a great job of satisfying the annoyance role, i am doing it mostly for myself. i guess i am not very familiar with the whole career path, corporate America scene because i have never been exposed to it by family or people i know, just like college i am forced to figure it all out myself with little guidance on reality. i don't want to sound like im whining by saying that, there were just a lot of things about college that would of made a big difference if i knew them coming in, not figuring them out 2-3 years after i started, so i am trying to soak up as much information as i can right now for i can reduce the possibility of feeling the same way about my career.
     
  18. erdawe

    erdawe Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,121
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Location:
    TBA
    You're a grown adult, it's none of your parent's damn business what you make unless you still owe them money.

    Be ambitious if you desire to do so, OR be lost and lackadaisical if it means you're happier doing such. Do as you choose for your life.

    Your family should help support you, not help make you insignificant about your life... But keep in mind if you don't really desire to do well for yourself, odds are you won't.
     
  19. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,138
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    SF
    I am the youngest one who went to the best school who is already doing better than most of them.

    Your comparing mentality is what's inhibiting your growth. I know because I do the same and am trying to grow out of it.

    My sister was always the one that did well in school, so naturally I would compare myself. The moment I was doing better in work, I stopped trying harder, which really hurt me more than anyone else. All those cliches you hear in life are hitting me like a ton of bricks.
     
  20. sho'nuff

    sho'nuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    22,225
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Irvine
    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.


    good luck to you man, you sound ambitious and you seem to have a good head on your shoulder. much better than others out there who write and ponder about how to get a hand-out and fast track to a jackpot of some sort w the least amt of effort

    more commonly everyone gets seasoned in the work field/real life and gets a bit jaded and just basically settle for whatever is decent is out there in terms of money.
    but it's always a good start to have the ambition like you from the beginning, as you never know, that you may be the one in a few dozen that actually gets to do something really purposeful while making tons of money.

    and to be stuck doing stuff like the typical guy next to you like while it sounds in concept a bad thing (to ambitious young minds fresh into the work place), it actually is not really bad. life is what you make of it. not what others say.


    basically, my point is, it is not the mba path or what not that is the generic/overplayed plan. it's the change in attitude and character going through it and coming out of it that washes out your results at the end. i dont care what path you go through, if you have continual ambition and passion for it, you'll come out on top whatever you choose.
     

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