crankyoldman: Claudia's IS the tech support [Warehouse 13] (Claudia tech)
[personal profile] crankyoldman
I don't know if I've talked about this much, because frankly it's taken me a while to process this and compare with experiences of other people. But I was reading yet another thing about how college grads have it hard finding work and yet another thing mentioned "unless your degree is in engineering or computer science, you're really not guaranteed a job".

Engineering degrees can in fact be just as problematic as any other degree, depending on the university you went to (mind I am talking about US institutions only as that is all I have experience with). In fact, once I'd come out of the haze that had been my undergrad years, I realized just how screwed I could have been had I not a) a willingness to take a risk and go to grad school because I have parents who are financially stable b) a willingness to leave a job that was essentially killing me in small measures.

You have to network, regardless of your degree field. This is one of the reasons I got into my grad program; it was designed to make a group of people very close to each other and create a network, and then maintain contact with all the people that had ever been in the program. That whole thing where I went to Charleston because me and two other ladies that were in a group with me had won a design challenge? Was possible only because there was a former grad from the program in the company who has maintained a relationship with the university in order to feed into the company.

In fact, one of the things I'm doing is working on getting an intern in the place where I interned this summer. Because apparently I'm the first one to have gotten into that company from the program and I want to keep that relationship going because it was fucking great for an internship and I want other people to have that.

But back to engineering. My degree program (and much of the programs at that school) were shit about jobs unless you were a) intending on going to grad school for research and thus continuing the corporate machine that was running the school b) deemed "an acceptable engineer" (i.e. white male and middle/upper class) or c) a "model minority" (i.e. not fitting the mold but working at all times as to be an A/B student).

To be fair, I almost had a good network going, despite the fact that exactly one of my engineering professors wanted me to actually graduate (I have realized over the years it wasn't paranoia or blaming on my part... they really didn't want me to graduate for reasons that they probably thought were sound). I had a group of people that I did homework with, who helped me learn the material in a way that lectures didn't do for me (spoiler: I learn fuck all from lectures) and at the very least cared about my existence. They would have let me know about job opportunities (hell and couple still check in on me from time to time and get worried when I tell them I got into design instead, ha ha).

But a highly competitive environment that is geared for a specific type of person really doesn't account for someone a woman accidentally getting married too young. Again, my shitty choices, but it was startling just how bad things got when I had to be home at a certain time and couldn't spend all night in the lab eating vending machine food and drinking too much caffeine and bullshitting.

Because what no one tells you is that networking is always defined by the most dominant population in any given field. Guess what engineering is dominated by? Guess how they like to socialize? Guess what they don't typically have to deal with?

So, if you want to be correct in stating that engineering or computer science degrees are some get out of jail free card, you have to realize this is only true for certain people. Most of which worked their asses off to get there, but even still, hard work only gets you so far. And the deck is always stacked against you if you are slightly out of the mold.

Basically, what I want people to get out of this rant is that you can't just learn the skills, you gotta meet the people too. And that's kind of balls. But if it's something you enjoy, meeting the people should hopefully be less painful (which is a thing I've noticed now that I'm in a much better career field for my disposition/skillset/SELF).

Also good luck out there I hope we can all continue to feed ourselves and rock hard.

Edit: Apparently xkcd thought it would be a good time to make a comic about networking in the most hilarious timing ever.
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