I think I picked the wrong profession

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  1. I graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering back in 2003. I definitely struggled through the course but, figured it would be worth it. Fast forward 7 years later and I feel like I definitely picked the wrong major. I've held positions as a shift chemist and as a process engineer. I've been a process engineer longer.

    As the days go on, I regret picking Engineering. I think I picked Engineering to break the mold that engineers were only males, to make my parents proud, to have a good salary, and to have a stable and "prestigious" career in a field that was mostly male dominated.

    I dislike coming to work with the expectations that I'll be fixing and troubleshooting machines and wearing manly clothes. Honestly, I hate feeling like a man. I hate attending training where I'm usually the only female and can't really be as passionate about machines as the other guys in the class.

    I'm definitely not lazy. I just wish I had a job I actually liked even a little bit. When I think of a job I'd like, hair stylist or working with jewelry comes to mind, a far cry from engineering. Maybe not the jewelry part because there seems to be a bit of math related to diamond cutting.

    Has anyone else been in this position where you felt like you made a mistake choosing your career? Did you actually do anything about it? Or did you just suck it up and considered it a way to get money and that's it?
  2. Oh my goodness, this is my first post in the General Discussion thread and what you wrote is ME!!!!

    I'm a Chemical Engineer too and have been working at a company I dislike more and more. I really HATE what I do. You know what, it took me a long time to realize that just because you are good and something (science, math) does NOT mean you will enjoy it!!! I love cosmetics. I always have. I really should've gone into that industry, even though it's highly competitive I would have loved it. I'm currently doing something with cosmetics on the side and I would LOVE to quit my FT job but I do make good $. I used to consider it something to do to make $ and just tried to think of it as a job, but you spend most of your hours at work...it really should be something you love to do!

    I really think you should find something you love - even if it starts out as a hobby or something you do part time. I have felt completely stuck for YEARS but I'm trying to soemthing about it now - better late than never!
  3. Thank you so much for responding. One of my good friends from my engineering classes said she came up to class to me one day because I was one of the only few girls in the class that had on makeup and had my hair fixed like she did. I too am in love with cosmetics. My dream was to start my own makeup company or work as an engineer at a makeup company.

    I feel like I should try to make a career change that makes me happy. I know it will be harder if I wait because right now, I don't have kids or anyone else depending on me financially. I'm getting married towards the end of this year, but my fiancee doesn't rely on my income.

    I loved Math and Science so it seemed like it made sense to go into engineering. What I did in math and science though doesn't really come into play during my job.
  4. #4 Feb 3, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
    No, at least not yet. However, I'm considering a male-dominated field myself, IT and/or operations management, and yeah, the pay is great, the demand is excellent, the prestige is great, and I do have some or even minimal interest in the subject matter. However, do I have a lot? No. I have a lot more interest in biology or biotech; however, the pay is sucky in comparison even at the much later stage in life unless you become a manager of something which will most likely take a buttload of seniority. I do, however, highly value the subject matter which is not the same thing as interest. Truly, the one thing I'm very nervous about is the male domination factor. I've been discriminated against my whole life already due to my ethnicity, now do I want to continue to be discriminated against because of my gender? Oh god, it scares me, it scares the living crap out of me.

    I have not yet begun getting my degree even, but I will very soon. It's either going to be this March (8-week course) or May (12 week course).
  5. Luckily I haven't had to deal with discrimination too much, gender or ethnicity-wise. The company I'm at is pretty good about that. I think it's harder to deal with the stigma of being new and inexperienced but, once you show you are willing to work and are somewhat knowledgeable, they are a bit more confident in your abilities.

  6. Well, that's good. I hope I follow the same fate.

    I look at these high-paying jobs that may not be nearly as interesting as some of my hobbies or interests to be able to fund my hobbies and interests much further. It does look like a nice trade-off in this case. However, for someone who prefers to do something they're really interested in or would do as a hobby, I can see why they'd rather spend 40 plus hours a week on it. Personally, even I'd get bored doing something I love that long, lol, as I don't spend anywhere near that amount of time doing any one hobby. If the pay were anywhere near what I'd get in IT, of course, I'd choose what I love as that would very much tip the balance.

    No discouragement for you. Just putting in how I feel for myself. If you love cosmetics in terms of designing/engineering them enough to do it 40 plus hours a week and everything else on your criteria is fine for you, go for it. At least you have tried something so different (chemical engineering)- against the grain, and became reasonably successful doing so. You've proven something. Now, you can move on.
  7. It's funny, b/c I'm also an engineer who doesn't really give 2 figs about her job; however, I'm pretty satisfied with my job. :shrugs:

    I was a process engineer for 7 years, and I spent the majority of my time in a jumpsuit with a face mask. I couldn't wear makeup or style my hair, and there was a period of time where I would be frequently crawling around running cables for my tools. I gave up wearing cute shoes b/c I had to change into work shoes as soon as I got into work. Did I love it? No, but it didn't particularly bother me.

    My job is not my life -- it's just a means to enable my life. All I want out of my job is for:
    - it to be tolerable (i.e. I don't hate going to work everyday except for the fact that it's mornings). ;)
    - me to be good at it, which makes it stable & tolerable.
    - allows me both the monetary and time flexibility for me to go off and do the things that I love to do (i.e. travel).

    Frankly, I'm not sold on the idea of "do what you love". I think that if I was forced to do what I love as a job, I might burn out on it and wouldn't love it so much anymore. YMMV.
  8. Yup, that sounds like me. Someone told me that it's never too late to change careers. I'm in grad school for engineering and I hate what I do. I think I went into it for some of the wrong reasons. I didn't hate it when I started grad school but now I do. I guess you just have to experience it to really know what it's like. Just need to finish my degree this semester so I will have something to show for all my years in grad school. But I've already looked into switching careers for about a year now and I'm on my way there. It's not my ideal career that I'm going into but it's better than something I abhor and it at least utilizes the science and math courses I've taken. Ideally though, if I had to choose whatever career path I wanted, I would've gone into business or fashion. It's good that you've realized all of this now when you are still young and not later like some people.
  9. JLB, my husband was an architect at a very respected company here in Sydney. He hated it after a few years but plodded on for several more because the money was excellent. He woke up one day and said he couldn't do it anymore. He left two weeks later and went back to University in his mid 30s to study what he really wanted. It came at a price as far as losing a very well paying job and having to sell our house to pay for his four years at University (including a year studying in England), but it was a good decision in the end. He's never looked back.
    I wish you luck with whatever you choose to do and I hope it all works out well for you.

  10. You just might be my soulmate.
  11. Thank you everyone for all your suggestions and encouragement.

    It's not really the wardrobe that bothers me. I guess it's the nature of the work that I end up having to do that I dislike. And the nature of the work I do dictates what I wear. Only makes sense to wear a uniform you don't care about if you're going to be crawling around some dirty machines.

    I think I was just overwhelmed because I had a review yesterday and there's going to be some reassigning of jobs and I'll be getting a lot more jobs that will involve fixing machines and a bunch of other responsibilities because I'll be the lead engineer. I guess when I was studying engineering, I wasn't expecting to do a lot of work where I feel like I'm a mechanic.

    I know some people say it's just a job but, when you're at a job 40+ hours a week and get called in when you're off and you dislike what you do, it can take an affect on you and that could carry over into your personal life. I should keep work and personal separate but, some things are easier said than done. I also feel guilty complaining, especially with how the economy is.

    I think I also start to reflect on life when I hear of someone passing away suddenly, especially someone young, I start to think about what would happen if something were to happen to me. Would I be happy with what I accomplished? Would I have done something totally differently, i.e. my job?

    I started researching government jobs which is keeping me hopeful. These jobs don't seem to put as much emphasis on hands-on repair of machines.
  12. This strikes a chord with me.
    When I first graduated with my degree in nursing, I took a job in a hospital, and I hated it. My co-workers were horrible and it was a very dysfunctional unit. I realize this now that I am older and wiser, but at the time I thought I was a failure and a bad person for not loving my job. I dreaded going to my job every day, I cried, I was depressed, etc. All I could think about was all those years of wasted study, and I felt like a total failure. My friends from school all loved the challenge of their new careers, and I never wanted to go to work.
    Almost immediately I interviewed for another job, in food product development. I had a BS degree, and they were happy to hire me. But I did not take the job because I felt like abandoning my profession so early was a cop out.
    About 6 months into my hospital career I found another job, in public health nursing. I left the hospital and never looked back. And I LOVED my new job. So it turns out it was not the wrong career for me, I had just not found the right position.
    I have had many positions since then, all in nursing, none in a hospital, and I have been very happy.

    So do look for another job. The government sounds promising. You will find a position that uses your degree and skills AND makes you happy, I know it. Good luck!
  13. What you've posted really rings true with me as well, even though I'm still in school. I chose to major in chemical biomedical engineering because it seemed like a stable and practical career compared to others. I'm very well-rounded, but I was never incredibly great in a specific area. I've always had a passion for art/design, but always shied away from it as a career.

    After the first semester, I was hating my courses and already looking into other majors, but my practical and stubborn side told me to keep going, I might like second semester. After second semester, that did not happen, yet I stubbornly stuck to engineering because of the prestige of getting into the biomedical program, and the hope that it might be bearable with the biology components. In hindsight, this probably was not the best way to go.

    Even though I was getting good grades, I was always depressed, always questioning why I was in the class, always researching other majors, and had no energy to focus on other things like relationships or hobbies. I even talked to the department dean, and he told me: "Do what you are passionate about, and the money will follow."

    It was the most difficult thing to let go of the "prestige" of engineering, but I decided to change my major to business+interaction design. I still occasionally wonder if this was the right thing to do, but after following my head for so long, I think it's finally time to follow my heart (I hope that's not too sappy).
  14. This *almost* sounds like me. I majored in Psychology because my mom wanted me to get a scholarship that required I should major in something in the health field (psychology was close enough). Although I was semi-good in it, it really wasn't my passion; art was (or rather *is*) something I was much more passionate about, but I dissuaded myself from that field because it doesn't pay well.

    Fast forward a couple years later, I went into a PhD program. I initially wanted to go into Social Work, BUT I quickly shifted gears when I thought about the stress and low-pay the field entailed. So, PhD I went...I absolutely HATED it; everyday I would come home with dread and anxiety. There were times I was extremely depressed and could not think straight. My family and friends told me to stay in school because the job market is terrible and they thought having a PhD would guarantee good money. They even made me feel guilty because they likened grad school to college, and they thought I had an "easier" life because I was in school studying instead of working. Well, I have had work experience, and even though I know work sucks, work NEVER made feel worthless, stupid, and nearly suicidal like grad school did. I had to leave.

    Currently, I've been looking into non-profits; I knew I should've done social work because that would've been a much better fit for me. I think doing what you love is (or at the very least, doing what you can tolerate) important in the long run. I don't know how much longer I would've lasted if I stuck it out in my program.