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infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 10:47 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse said:

I may be a bit of a contrarian, but in my 20 years experience in the working world, I think the engineering degree is more worthwhile.  I know you're going to say, "What about all that math??"  Yes, the math sucks.  And I was bad at it- I flunked differential equations the first time I took it, and got a 'D' ('D' is for 'Diploma', by the way) the 2nd time.  I graduated with a bachelors in Mech Eng with a GPA of 2.4.

Because I'm hard-headed, I went back to school and got my Master's degree.  I managed a bit over a 3.0 this time (I forget exactly, might have been a 3.1 or 3.2).  Got a 'C' in "Advanced Differential Equations" (passed the first time!)

I won't sugar coat it.  College sucked.  It was 18-21 credit hours a semester, one summer semester, and took 4.5 years full time.  My Master's took me 4 years part time, while working.  

But it was worth it.  I'm 42, have no student loans left, and make enough to live comfortably in the Baltimore area while supporting a family (as the sole breadwinner).  

I went for engineering because I'm a hands-on guy and I wanted a degree I could take anywhere.  But I also knew I didn't want to be 60 years old and slinging wrenches for my livlihood someday.

ANY degree is better than no degree.  But you only live once.  

As for earnings- you gotta look at the long term.  When do you want to retire?  What are your current yearly expenses?  If you live on 40K a year, after taxes, without any money left over (and without saving anything) then you'll need about $1M to retire (on top of social security).  But of course, if you're not saving anything, then where's that million going to come from?  

Having multiple income streams is another big plus- you mentioned the wedding photography.  You could expand that out too.  Every Christmas we get family photos taken as presents for the grandparents.  We typically meet a photographer somewhere picturesque (like a park, or a forest, or a tree farm, or something) and they get $200 or $300 for 15-20 minutes of taking our pictures and then sending us 10 or 15 "finished" print choices.  We pay to get them printed online (at like vistaprint or something).   Seems to be a good market for this as the photogs we've used usually book up.  Then there's proms, wedding invite and save-the-date photo sessions, and other events.  Weddings are big money but also big pressure and commitments.  

I think something like engineering is something I would be happy with.  Taking that online might be a nightmare.  Mostly I want something that's as broadly applicable as absolutely possible, and won't take forever to attain, which is why I'm leaning towards business management.  From what I've read it's the most broadly applicable degree out there.  Lots of good advice in there, thank you.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 10:48 a.m.
yupididit said:

Seriously email me; cherrodover@gmail.com 

I hear you but I don't think the robotics automation is a big industry in small town central/south florida.  It sounds like something that's really neat but wouldn't have many jobs down there in Highlands County.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 10:50 a.m.
Javelin said:

HOLD UP

Were you rated service-connected at all? Getting a military retirement and/or VA benefit?

With eligible GI Bill left you qualify for Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation where the VA pays you to get retrained in something that you want to do and can do, all the way through a Master's Degree if needed. Shoot me a PM ASAP.

Yes, I was medically retired at 12 years (well, 11 years and 9 months but who's counting).  Army gave me 40% disability rating and the VA gave me a 70% disability rating so I went with them.  I think this might be a really solid answer, PM sent!

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 10:51 a.m.

Thank you guys so, so much for all this solid, real-world advice.  You're a lot better than most of my Facebook friends, who just want to drink cheap beer and go to concerts haha.

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/16/19 10:51 a.m.
infinitenexus said:
yupididit said:

Seriously email me; cherrodover@gmail.com 

I hear you but I don't think the robotics automation is a big industry in small town central/south florida.  It sounds like something that's really neat but wouldn't have many jobs down there in Highlands County.

 

You'd be surprised sir. You'll have a computer and internet connection? And a lot of these companies have places in Florida. And allow working from home and paid travel opportunities. 

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
10/16/19 10:58 a.m.
infinitenexus said:
Javelin said:

HOLD UP

Were you rated service-connected at all? Getting a military retirement and/or VA benefit?

With eligible GI Bill left you qualify for Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation where the VA pays you to get retrained in something that you want to do and can do, all the way through a Master's Degree if needed. Shoot me a PM ASAP.

Yes, I was medically retired at 12 years (well, 11 years and 9 months but who's counting).  Army gave me 40% disability rating and the VA gave me a 70% disability rating so I went with them.  I think this might be a really solid answer, PM sent!

Replied!

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
10/16/19 10:59 a.m.
infinitenexus said:
yupididit said:

Seriously email me; cherrodover@gmail.com 

I hear you but I don't think the robotics automation is a big industry in small town central/south florida.  It sounds like something that's really neat but wouldn't have many jobs down there in Highlands County.

If this is the RPA that I'm familiar with it has nothing to do with robots (and literally almost every company probably has a "use case" for RPA right now). It is simply configuring a computer to click in the spots and enter the information that a human would. We've gone through a lot of vendors trying to pull us into it right now and we even have a couple different platforms we can use licensed but we always come back to this simple question:

If there is no decision-making involved in this process, why are we doing the process to begin with?

Decision making = value add, no value add = wasted time. 

Yes, sometimes you can find things that absolutely need to be done and are brainless. And yes you can make the RPA do some of the work and let the human make the decisions. But in all of those cases usually time spent fixing the process to cut the useless tasks is a better way to spent your time (in my experience). 

Edit - I'll add that workflow testing is a great place for RPA - when you have a large user-base using a system daily, and you want to continually test that their workflow isn't impacted by other changes, you can have RPA constantly test their workflow and then you'll hopefully have earlier news if an unexpected change impacts the workflow. 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 11:01 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

in that case, email sent!

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/16/19 11:04 a.m.
Robbie said:
infinitenexus said:
yupididit said:

Seriously email me; cherrodover@gmail.com 

I hear you but I don't think the robotics automation is a big industry in small town central/south florida.  It sounds like something that's really neat but wouldn't have many jobs down there in Highlands County.

If this is the RPA that I'm familiar with it has nothing to do with robots (and literally almost every company probably has a "use case" for RPA right now). It is simply configuring a computer to click in the spots and enter the information that a human would. We've gone through a lot of vendors trying to pull us into it right now and we even have a couple different platforms we can use licensed but we always come back to this simple question:

If there is no decision-making involved in this process, why are we doing the process to begin with?

Decision making = value add, no value add = wasted time. 

Yes, sometimes you can find things that absolutely need to be done and are brainless. And yes you can make the RPA do some of the work and let the human make the decisions. But in all of those cases usually time spent fixing the process to cut the useless tasks is a better way to spent your time (in my experience). 

You are absolutely correct. And sometimes when you look to automate a process you find out the whole process is pointless anyway. But, there's still so many use cases that there's ton of work to be done. Especially in local and state govt, DOD, banking, insurance, customer service, healthcare, non-profit, and many more. 

Also, you can program in if-then logic but that isn't exactly decision making. RPA will be the engine to machine learning and AI, with its data collection and processing ability. 

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
10/16/19 11:11 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

From a business perspective, if you eliminate a useless process (even if it is an 'unintended consequence' of an RPA analysis), you're adding a HUGE value!!

p.s. I legit just got invited to another RPA demo. lol. within the last minute.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 11:20 a.m.

I'm applying for the vocational rehabilitation training under chapter 31 right now (Thanks Javelin) so at least I shouldn't have to pay for school.  That's a HUGE help.

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/16/19 11:20 a.m.
Robbie said:

In reply to yupididit :

From a business perspective, if you eliminate a useless process (even if it is an 'unintended consequence' of an RPA analysis), you're adding a HUGE value!!

p.s. I legit just got invited to another RPA demo. lol. within the last minute.

Absolutely huge value. I have hundreds of use cases for the Air Force in the HR realm already. 

I say that those consulting companies can be really expensive. But, you can easily do it yourself and have the employer purchase the software and license from the software company. Problem is rarely do you find someone in a company willing to go through all that. I learned it for free via uipath where they let you download a version of the software to use while you're going through their free online academy. Showed the use case and potential and convinced my director to spend a couple grand on a license and software. Completed my proof of concept with a live demo to my 2 star and the 3 star above him. Minds were blown. My problem was why wasn't the world's most "advance and deadly" Air Force already doing this? 

Im in Vegas right now with all the RPA companies and their partners and customers from around the world. Learning a lot right now and being realistic about expectations. 

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/16/19 11:31 a.m.

Also, the other day my girlfriend bought me some online IT classes from groupon. I don't know how worth it these are but the price (under $70 per) is def fair enough to give it a shot. Im sure the IT folks around here can add their opinion to it. 

Here's the link: 

Career Academy online IT certification courses

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
10/16/19 11:35 a.m.
infinitenexus said:

I'm applying for the vocational rehabilitation training under chapter 31 right now (Thanks Javelin) so at least I shouldn't have to pay for school.  That's a HUGE help.

Awesome! Please keep us updated and let me know if you need any help with it.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 11:49 a.m.

Thanks Javelin!  I'll update this thread as I learn more and when the VA contacts me.  

 

The RPA sounds pretty interesting.  I'm also interested in IT, though I'm not so sure how we'll I'd do at it.  RPA and IT definitely sound like jobs of the future for me, things that will be expanding over the next few decades.  A friend of mine told me I should look into pursuing being an Actuary.  So there's plenty of options.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 12:04 p.m.

I guess one good place to start is to look at the top employers down in Highlands County.

https://highlandsedc.com/Sites-Data/Top-Employers

Then extrapolate from that what type of degree could get me a solid job there and also some place like Tampa if I chose to move there later on in life.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider UltraDork
10/16/19 12:39 p.m.

In reply to yupididit :

We have invested almost 50M in RPA development between my company and my client this year. It's been a god send by allowing our employees to get out of the point and click pieces of the job and actually get to value added employment. There is a large market out there for it as we are only 2 Fortune 500 companies spending that much. 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/16/19 7:13 p.m.

So yupididit called me and convinced me to try the RPA route.  I'm checking it out right now and starting some online training.  Hopefully this'll be a good path for me!

lnlogauge
lnlogauge HalfDork
10/16/19 8:52 p.m.

I have an engineering degree. I absolutely love my job, and I'm really good at it. I got a cheap degree right out of school, and took 6 years to get it. 10 years later I make really good money, with job opportunities everywhere. 

If I had to go back to school now, I'm not sure I would graduate. You're basically starting over with math. Once you get past core classes, every class is cal/trig based.

If I had to start over, i would learn 3d CAD and get into an engineering department. Show ambition, hands on ability, and you can move up. 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/31/19 2:01 p.m.

So, an update on this, and a positive one.  I was studying RPA and having some trouble keeping focused on it, because it's pretty dry material and half of it was just going over my head, and contacted my buddy Gary about it because he knows everything involving computers.  Gary basically said dude, why are you struggling with this stuff?  Learn to code.  I told him I already tried that and hated it, I learned it in college.  His reply was basically no wonder, college is the absolute worst place to learn programming.  They make it as boring as possible and give equal weight to things you constantly use and never use.  So long story short, Gary gave me a book to read and recommended a web developer bootcamp and I've actually been enjoying myself learning.  The key that makes it possible is the book is well-written and not boring, and the web developer bootcamp is pretty similar.  It's actually engaging, and in the past two weeks I've gotten a good grasp on html and css (about to start bootstrap and javascript) and built a nice website for my band - one that actually looks professional and I don't mind putting in my portfolio.  My next project is building a website for my photography, and if it goes well then I'll try to build a new site for my wedding photographer boss (for free, just to get experience).  And the best part of this is I'm actually interested in it and enjoying it!  It's a complete 180 from college, where every aspect of it seemed to be geared toward making it as boring and unpractical as possible.

Gary was telling me that the we development industry desperately needs people - there's people that have made an entire career out of basically just building sites in Wordpress.  There are days where he just walks people - web developers - through extremely basic stuff all day.  So he said at my current pace, he can help me land a solid web development job probably by the end of the year.  So that's pretty awesome.  And he built the website for the Smithsonian so he knows what he's talking about.

 

 

jharry3
jharry3 HalfDork
10/31/19 2:41 p.m.

 Do a search on "career choice questionnaires"     https://www.jobquiz.com/

Be honest in  your answers and abilities.  

Don't say you love math so the answer comes back as engineer if you don't think you can stomach 25 hours of calculus just so you can do two or three more years of math based courses.   Choose the major carefully because starting salaries vary a lot depending upon discipline and industry.  GPA can be very important if  you want to work for a major company. The major oil companies won't talk to you with less than a 3.6 average.  Some have a cutoff of 3.8.  (out of 4.0).    Electrical and Chemical engineers probably have the most industry choices and best pay to start.       

After you figure out some possibilities also look at what the earning potential is and if that matches up with your personal expectations of a lifestyle.

Medical is wide open - lots of different opportunities from nursing, the physical therapy, X-Ray tech, etc.   

Engineering gets really specialized really quickly until  you pay some dues in minutia  and then get promoted for technical or managerial roles. (provided  you have communication skills)

https://www.jobquiz.com/

VegasNick
VegasNick Reader
10/31/19 2:45 p.m.

In reply to infinitenexus :

Not sure how old you are, but my .025964 cents. I am like you. I taught myself basic C++ for an engineering project at work. I have a learning disability and math was never my strong point. (although for some freaky reason, I loved Trig) I went back to school at the ripe old age of 28. I took aviation maintenance management. I started out in a little airplane shop, and now at the age of 51 I am in the lox six figures in income doing aircraft technical support work which is something that I really and truly love. I get involved with the engineering aspect to a point and even have had a hand in some major safety related regulatory stuff over the past few years. I see a lot of guys out there with tens of thousands in student debt that make way less than I do ad can't design or fix a damn thing, but they are "engineers". 

Given your inclination towards engineering and design, go look at Disney! They hire engineering types all the time, especially entry level. I see a lot of trade school trade people making way more than 4 year degree folks, IF you are willing to do the work. Welders, fabricators, electricians, commercial controls techs, instrument techs, etc all do very well. 

 

Good luck! 

 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
11/1/19 6:31 a.m.

In reply to jharry3 :

They want me to pay $9.99 to see the results of my quiz.  I wish I had known that before spending 15 minutes on answering everything.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/1/19 7:26 a.m.

Engineering. Engineering tech.  All great career paths.  I started out there went to ops and now live at the intersection of customer support and engineering.  It's been a good career.  Lots more to go. 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
11/1/19 1:11 p.m.

Admittedly, I just skimmed the last three pages so I'm not sure how old you are.  If you're older, expand on your language skills and get a bachelors in that language.  Most employers want a BA or BS to show you are capable of higher-level thinking and have the mental discipline to complete a long involved task like pursuing a degree.  So the actual course of study isn't necessarily as important as the completion.

There could be companies looking for someone who has a good technical knowledge in a certain language because they do a lot of business with that country.  Or you could end up somewhere that doesn't really care about what you studied specifically, just that you completed it.

 

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