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Old 02-23-2013, 08:08 AM   #41
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I am biased towards anything in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, as those are the skills even basic jobs are going to require more of.

However, more important than going off to college to study is to get involved with people. Get involved in a student organization or seek an internship or volunteer in a field they think they might want to work in. Contact people who are in that field not to ask for a job, but to find out how they got there and what they attribute to that success.

Finally, cultivate skills that, in my view, will be applicable to any field and can make a difference:
- The ability to continually learn and apply new things.
- The ability to listen and actually hear what others are saying.
- The ability to speak and present a topic in front of others (bonus if you can present it in terms that .
- The ability to work with others on a project and meet deadlines.
- The ability to disagree without getting angry or insulting.
- The ability to thank and praise others when they have done something well.
I would add a few other skills that will be useful no matter what the eventual field of employment:

- cultivate the ability to write clearly and comprehensively but concisely. It doesn't matter how smart you are if you cannot communicate your ideas to others.

-- develop a reputation for reliability. This means being on-time, every time and everywhere. It also means doing what you say you'll do. Under-promise and over-perform.

-- learn humility. You won't always be the smartest guy in the room, and the most unlikely people sometimes have something to offer.

-- learn to handle failure. If you live long enough, you are bound to fail at something. When you do, admit it forthrightly, take what lessons you can, apologize to those whom you have failed, and move on.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:48 AM   #42
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I'm not sure why I didn't mention this before, but there isn't necessarily any rush to decide on a career or college. When I graduated HS, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do, or even whether I wanted to go to college, so I worked for a year in a job that was typical for a HS graduate (albeit at the lower end of the pay scale, as it was all I could get at the time).

Working in a sweatshop for crap wages was the best motivator I could have had. Conditions were lousy, boss was a tyrant who truly held his employees in contempt (we were below him in every way). After 6 months of that I decided college was a pretty good idea if only to broaden my employment prospects. I spent the second six months saving and applying to schools, quit & went to a state university college on partial scholarship and paying my own way, and graduated 3rd in my class because what I wound up studying were things I wanted to learn/do rather than the waste of time most of HS was (for me).

I went through a few career changes as I previously mentioned, but that's another issue.

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Old 02-23-2013, 12:06 PM   #43
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If you were at the point of advising an educational pathway for a 17 year old, what direction(s) would you point to... for satisfaction and security?
A job that cannot be, pardon me, jobbed out to other countries. A job that cannot be, pardon me once more, jobbed out to machinery.

This may seem unexciting ... but I would recommend being a plumber. That is one field not too many are trying to get into. And there are people who would turn their nose up out at the idea of doing that. But plumbers make damn good money. Of course it's not for just anyone.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:04 PM   #44
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A job that cannot be, pardon me, jobbed out to other countries. A job that cannot be, pardon me once more, jobbed out to machinery.
I'm reminded of the closing lines of Dinner at Eight (1933):
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:13 PM   #45
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I'm reminded of the closing lines of Dinner at Eight (1933):
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:56 PM   #46
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Not many have mentioned entrepreneurship, perhaps because of the makeup of this board. It isn't for everyone, but neither is endless school or working in a large organization for everyone.

If one is not a techie, it seems to me the best preparation, probably through a bachelors degree in almost any local school, would be accounting and finance. With that and a good head, someone will always find niches to fill, and if any outsourcing is to be done, this person will be the beneficiary, not the victim.

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Old 02-23-2013, 03:10 PM   #47
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I think the problem with many of the responses is that they are almost exclusively based upon which career is likely to result in economic success or security. I don't disagree with much of those ideas.

The problem is that in advising an individual 17 year old it becomes far more important what that 17 year old is willing to do and is able to do. Not everyone is capable of every career. Not everyone is willing spend his or her working life in a career that is hated, even if that person is good at that career. In actuality, the discussion needs to start with questions to that 17 year old to find out more about that particular 17 year old.

Nothing is wrong with accounting or engineering, for example, as careers....unless the student in question is not interested in those fields or those fields doesn't fit within the talents of that student.
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:12 AM   #48
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I'm not sure why I didn't mention this before, but there isn't necessarily any rush to decide on a career or college. When I graduated HS, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do, or even whether I wanted to go to college, so I worked for a year in a job that was typical for a HS graduate (albeit at the lower end of the pay scale, as it was all I could get at the time).
I did that too, for six months after HS graduation I unloaded trucks at a department store with another HS buddy who also didn't know what to do. I sort of had an idea of what to do but didn't know the best route to get there.

He went in the Navy and made a career of it, I went to the community college, earned the two-year degree, then was hired by the County police department and stayed 29 years.

One thing that still sticks in my mind is the speaker at the college orientation day. I started college mid-semester, and the guy said he was always struck by how quickly the room got quiet when he was walking to the podium. Unlike first-semester students, these were kids who were not there because their parents told them to go. These kids had given it some thought and wanted to be there and learn something.

So for a HS graduate to take a menial job for a year or so to think things through is not necessarily a bad decision. As long as that menial job doesn't last 20 years.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:36 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by jollystomper View Post
I am biased towards anything in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, as those are the skills even basic jobs are going to require more of.

However, more important than going off to college to study is to get involved with people. Get involved in a student organization or seek an internship or volunteer in a field they think they might want to work in. Contact people who are in that field not to ask for a job, but to find out how they got there and what they attribute to that success.

Finally, cultivate skills that, in my view, will be applicable to any field and can make a difference:
- The ability to continually learn and apply new things.
- The ability to listen and actually hear what others are saying.
- The ability to speak and present a topic in front of others (bonus if you can present it in terms that .
- The ability to work with others on a project and meet deadlines.
- The ability to disagree without getting angry or insulting.
- The ability to thank and praise others when they have done something well.
+1 Beautifully put.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:31 PM   #50
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This may seem unexciting ... but I would recommend being a plumber. That is one field not too many are trying to get into. And there are people who would turn their nose up out at the idea of doing that. But plumbers make damn good money. Of course it's not for just anyone.
A couple of the fellows I hunt with are plumbers. In many ways, I envy them. They work hard at times, and are always in need and never out of work. They do make good money and are in control of their lives. They have their own businesses and really are entrepreneurs. I do not look down on the guys in the trades. Most of us depend on our jobs...but these guys are in control of a business and have the opportunity to make a killing.

What good is an MBA or whatever and you can't get a job?
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:33 PM   #51
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My DS really wanted to drop out of college after two years and start his own tech company. I thought his plan was not viable in any sense. We told him he's be paying us rent if he planned to stay with us. And since he hadn't completed college and this was early 2012 he would probably have to be working at McDonalds if he was lucky enough to find a job. He could then use his spare time to work on his . He decided to switch majors and colleges and seems much happier. I think that was mainly disappointment in his old college and major, though who knows what will happen after graduation. But that will be his problem, mostly, and he'll have something to fall back on.

A neice had a choice between a math/science college path or a music major trumpet path. She liked both, but went with trumpet. Now she's graduated with a masters degree as of about six months ago, renting an apartment on her parent's dime, and looking for seemingly non-existent jobs. She'll have to come back home in a few months if nothing pops up. I think she's OK with it so far, though her Mom is not too excited with the progress so far.

And I have plenty of relatives who are fine with working just enough to get by. I'm not sure what their retirement plan is, but they seem happy for now.

It's nice to say do what you like, but it's got to be with some realistic vision of what lifestyle that's leading to.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:55 PM   #52
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:43 PM   #53
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Resurrection...for one last shot.

Profession - Farmer

Based on a recent opinion as to the reason Warren Buffet bought in to Heinz.

That the collapse of the monetary system and subsequent failure of the world's economy would result in anarchy and survivalism, with food being the basis for trade... within five years.

Asia Times Online :: Global Economy

Farmland with good soil is selling in exess of $10K/acre.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:57 AM   #54
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Resurrection...for one last shot.

Profession - Farmer

Based on a recent opinion as to the reason Warren Buffet bought in to Heinz.
Or did he just sit down & have a chat with Lori Silverbush & Kristi Jacobson?

A Place at the Table (Official Movie Site) - Starring Jeff Bridges - In theatres, available on iTunes, and on demand March 1st - Trailer, Pictures & More
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:40 AM   #55
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A fellow I know with a Masters in EE hasn't been able to find work in over a year. Maybe it's geographical.
Just heard from him. He found a job after ~18 month layoff. Perhaps the economy is improving -- if slowly and unevenly -- as Bernanke says.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:51 AM   #56
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Construction is another, if one likes building things. Design (architect) is one thing. Making it go from paper/computer to real is quite another.
My brother was an architect... my husband is an architect... I've got lots of architect friends.

It's not nearly as glamorous or lucrative as you'd think. Before encouraging anyone into going into architecture have them look at the following:
- Do they understand the licensing/registration issues for their state (or any states they might want to practice.) Most states require that you work for 7-10 years after you graduate before you can take the exams that will qualify you to be licensed. That 7-10 years is typically at VERY low wages. (My brother didn't realize this till after he graduated... his mistake).
- The salary threshold is much lower for you if you work for a firm. Most architects are paid well under the 6 figure salary you'd expect. Even with decades of experience, specialized/sought after skill sets, etc, it's hard to get $100k.
- If you go into business for yourself not only are you taking financial risks - you have costs of liability insurance. You must keep this insurance in place for at least a decade after you retire. This insurance is NOT cheap. If there's a construction defect, often the contractor has gone out of business... so they sue the architect (even if they're not at fault.)
- If you're a residential architect you have to deal with customers that change their minds late in the game, don't understand cost tradeoffs, schedule tradeoffs, etc.. The fee is lower and the PITA customer factor is higher for most residential projects.

I had all sorts of misconceptions about the industry till I was surrounded by practitioners. It's a field that I would discourage my kids from going into. As would my architect husband.
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