On getting THE job

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by yaxomoxay, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    Ok guys, I know that this is MacRumors but I have been here long enough to get a little bit more personal, plus I’d love to hear your opinion and suggestions.

    Background: I immigrated to the US in 2003, I became a (proud) citizen, I am law abiding etc., I have a wife, a 14 yo kid and a 10 yo kid. I am 35.

    I came to the US thanks to my job (aerospace industry; mainly avionics software, flight control computers, control laws etc), and I worked for the same company with the same salary from 2003 to 2013 when I was laid off with a bunch of other people (#insert rant about the status of our economy and your politician of choice#).

    Now, here’s the problem: I got too comfortable, and I never got a degree. The result is that once I was forced out of my comfort zone due to the layoff, I couldn’t find a high paying and rewarding job, especially in aerospace, due to the lack of a degree and an incredibly competitive job market.

    Fast forward to 2016, and I have a decently paying job (yet, half of what I was making) in a local government. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not… the job, if you get what you mean.

    I am currently working on two associates: Business Admin, and (slowly) mathematics. The goal is to get at least a Bachelor in the two fields (although I would love to go for a Master’s in Public Admin, and a Master’s in Mathematics).

    Since I was told that the key of success is setting measurable goals, after a lot of calculations and planning I set up the following goals:

    - Reach my associate in Business Admin by the end of 2017
    - Reach my Bachelor in Business Admin by the end of 2020
    - Reach my associate in Mathematics by the end of 2019
    - Reach my Bachelor in Mathematics by the end of 2021
    - Find a job with NASA/SpaceX (I am a space fanatic) before 2025.

    I currently stand close to my business admin associate, I will take five classes this fall and with some luck I should be awarded the degree by Spring 2017. I am bit late on the math associate, but I will certainly finish that.

    In your opinion, what are the best ways to accomplish these goals as fast as possible? Granted, I am studying like a madman (all while doing a lot of networking and being involved in volunteering and politics). Am I just crazy?
     
  2. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #2
    Forget a second Associates degree. Especially if you're continuing on for a BS and MS. Finish your first degree all the way through. Go straight for the BS. You can then fill in courses for a minor in the second field, or earn a second degree without having to do everything all over again.

    Sounds like you have your future will thought out.
     
  3. curmudgeonette macrumors 6502

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    Jan 28, 2016
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    California
    #3
    What the degrees really mean:

    Bachelor: I know absolutely nothing about how to do a specific job. If you hire me, you'll have to train me. However, I have learned how to learn. I also obey authority figures.

    Masters: I know a little something about one specific job. You'll be able to put me to work right away in an junior position. I also take orders well.

    PHD: I've finally become an expert in a field. But best of all, I play very well with those that tell me what to do.

    The actual subject you studied does not matter. Degrees really just demonstrate that you'll be a well functioning cog in the boss's machine. So, as AlliFlower said, choose one degree path and advance. I've heard of people being able to pick up a second MS with very few courses.
     
  4. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #4
    Sounds more like that's what witty generalizations mean.
     
  5. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #5
    No. @curmudgeonette has nailed it and most employers will agree. For many jobs these days, employers ask for a degree only so you can prove you have the ability to stick with a project until it's done and you're capable of learning what YOU need them to learn.
     
  6. yaxomoxay, Jun 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016

    yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
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    Texas
    #6
    In general terms, I would agree with you. There is no doubt that this whole "Bachelor degree required" thing is overused. I think that all of us have seen the crazy "janitor with Master's in Logistics and 25+ years of experience, $8/hr. Ph.D Preferred" job postings.

    However the reality is simple:
    • For some jobs a degree is truly necessary. Especially for STEM. I would never entrust the next Apollo mission to someone with less than than a Master's and several years of experience as a program manager.
    • Same goes for the medicine field. Would you really trust someone that has learned from books, alone at his own house?
    • The job market is so competitive that yeah, a degree gives you an edge. That's the harsh truth, and as much I philosophically despise it, I have to live with it. I can't ignore facts.
    As for myself, I see it this way:
    • A degree gives me a path, and a schedule to work with.
    • It helps focus. Yes, I can discover that cos^2+sin^2=1 by myself, but why should I reinvent the wheel, especially given the fact that I don't have much time to waste?
    • The various courses allow me to put myself to the test. No matter what I do, someone will double check what I am doing (at least to a degree). This has a huge value, especially if I ask questions about my own work.
    • If my schedule works, at 40ish I will have two degrees, and over 20 years of reliable work history, on two different yet respectful fields (aerospace research, public administration), and in two continents (Europe, USA), as a somewhat multilingual individual (English, Italian and Spanish). I am also doing a lot of extracurricular activities (volunteering etc.) which gives me another small advantage. Not many people are able to say the same. I would be a complete idiot holding myself down just because "degrees are worthless".
    • In the past few years I learned a very important lesson: use whatever I have in front of me for my own advantage (in a good way, of course). I could coast most courses, get my degree and be happy. Although easy and doable, that's not efficient. I am trying to squeeze as much info and knowledge as possible from each and every course I am doing. Do I fail sometimes and I find myself coasting? Yeah, I am not perfect, but it's not a common occurrence.
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #7
    OP, your plan otherwise looks good, but forget BSc in Business Administration and put your focus on mathematics. You're at your most productive years, so getting out of school and finding a job as soon as possible should be your number one goal. Finding a job only gets harder the older you get and your experience also degrades in value over time. In 2021, it will be 8 years since you were laid off, which is a lifetime in the corporate world.

    The reason why I suggest you focus on math is because it's a hard science. No disrespect towards soft sciences, but the truth is that soft sciences like business admin don't prepare you for work at all. All you know is a bunch of jargon and theories that contradict each other, which don't really help you in real world. The real learning happens in the job and ultimately common sense gets you quite far alone. (I studied business with major in economics, so I give myself the right to bash what I studied)

    While math is also mostly just theories, those theories don't change over time and they are more applicable in real world if you do engineering than biz admin theories. It's also not common sense, so if you didn't study math, you won't understand a thing about math, whereas biz admin is common sense in many cases. Given your background in aerospace engineering you might be able to score a senior position.
     
  8. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Texas
    #8
    Well, just to make sure that we're on the same page, I have a job. Or are you saying that I should get a job closer to the field I want to get into asap?


    Your reasoning makes a lot of sense, I never thought it that way.
    Now, the problem I might encounter with the math degree is the necessary number of prerequisites. For example, you can't take Calculus III, without Calculus II, and you can't take Calc II without Calc I and so on. Is there any way to accelerate this path?
     
  9. Scepticalscribe, Jun 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #9
    Great post, and similar to some of the advice I was thinking of offering as well.

    To the OP: A maths degree is taken seriously and is a solid and very well respected qualification to have. Even given your background, it is also an excellent match with your experience.

    Moreover, you will find a decent job of some description with a maths degree - for example, schools are crying out for qualified maths teachers.

    My advice would be to concentrate on getting the maths degree first, and take matters from there.

    Besides, @Hellhammer makes some very good points about what a Business Admin qualification can mean in practice; if you still wish to add this qualification, it will not prove too difficult subsequently.
     
  10. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    The Anthropocene
    #10
    Um, not really, you might find accelerated tracts for people who find this stuff coming more easily, but those often go into more of the gritty details. You should focus on understanding not moving quickly, even though I appreciate that you don't want to 'languish in school' at this point in your life.

    Or maybe things have changed; it's been a while since I went through all of that.
     
  11. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Texas
    #11
    I agree that @Hellhammer's advice was very good. I will certainly pursue the Associate and then Bachelor in math, I am not stopping. It's just a matter of a timeline. I can get done with my Associate in Business by this December or Spring next year, which wouldn't be bad. Do you think that it would be a good idea stopping so close to have one of the degrees? I am pretty torn about it.

    Funny you say it. One of the things I will do for sure is teaching, even as a part timer or volunteer. My kids will be out of my roof by the time I am 45, so I will try to help schools and whoever needs as much as I can.

    Thank you for your opinion, I will check if I can modify the timelines. As I was saying in the previous post my Catch-22 with the math degree is obtaining the prerequisites to move on.
    Oh let me add another thing to the equation that I didn't mention before. My current employer will pay for the total cost of my Business degree, but it won't pay a penny of my math degree.
     
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #12
    I still think that a maths degree is gilt edged in a way very few others are.

    If you have an aptitude in that direction, I really would recommend it - you are almost certainly guaranteed decent employment, with it, - you will be inundated with offers from schools, far too many schools are obliged to use under-qualified individuals to teach maths - and it will impress employers - who will see it as 'serious' - no matter what you choose to study subsequently.
     
  13. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Texas
    #13
    Thank you very much. I am pretty serious about it, so yes I will keep moving on.
    Granted that I won't stop before the Bachelor's, do you think that an Associate in math carries any value?
     
  14. Scepticalscribe, Jun 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    Get the Bachelor's in Maths.

    A BA in maths will open doors that the other will not, offer employment opportunities that they other will not, and will guarantee respect at an interview, even if they are not specifically looking for a maths graduate. Maths is considered serious, and is an impressive qualification.

    My brother returned to university as a mature student - he hadn't had the grades to win a place at 18 - and - on taking advice - did a maths degree, prior to studying law (he is now a solicitor); the maths degree was a banker, - and got him called to interviews where nobody had mentioned or specified maths.
     
  15. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    Boston, MA
    #15
    OP - I can only speak to the market in the Boston area, but I see folks with associates degrees only in low-level support roles. I've seen lab technicians with associates degrees, machinists, etc. They don't come up with any process or do anything creative, they merely follow the process established by higher-level engineers or scientists.

    In EE, ME, CE, and CS fields, having a BS degree in any of those fields or mathematics is a pretty darn good. In bio, chem, pharma, etc., anything less than a MS is tough to get by with, and most have PhDs.

    I have been told that unless you have the disposable cash or a master plan to start your own business that you are very confident in, never pay for your own business degree. I would focus entirely on the math degree for now, and then get a job you like. If the employer sees potential in you, or if they offer tuition reimbursement, you should be able to get an MBA in night school on their dime.
     
  16. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #16
    Again, thank you for your reply.
    Other than being seeing as a difficult degree, why do you think this happens?
     
  17. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #17
    That will depend entirely on the university. If they're flexible, they might let you do e.g. Calc I and II at the same time (assuming you're already familiar with the stuff given your experience), or in a best case scenario you can just take Calc I exam and be done with it. My university was very flexible on this and I could basically take any course as long as there were empty slots, even if I hadn't done the prerequisites, but the education system in Finland is generally very flexible.

    As someone said above, they may also offer accelerated courses.

    By the way, what is it that you currently do if I may ask? Would you be able to keep your job while doing the math degree? I'm trying to get a grasp of the situation and the associated risks because you need a solid backup plan in case getting a math related job doesn't pull through.

    I think you should get it done as you're so close. While it's not the most valuable degree, it's still a degree. It can prove to be of some value when combined with a math degree because it shows that you're not a "blind" engineer as you also have understanding of how business works, which is unfortunately not the case with most engineers I've dealt with.
     
  18. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #18
    it isn't really clear from your posts, whether "THE job" you envision is something that's more technical/math related or more administrative/business administration related. In choosing your path forward I'd think you should first decide which degree will help you more with the specific type of job you want.
     
  19. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #19
    Well, mathematics requires you to think in complex abstractions. Being able to do this is usually seen as a plus to employers. It is an indication that you'll be able to approach difficult problems in new and productive ways.
     
  20. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #20
    Good idea, I will definitely have to check if I can accelerate somehow. I think I can pass the Calc I (although I haven't done that kind of homework in over a decade!) exam after a short review of the various subjects.

    As of now I am a municipal employee, I support the Director of Libraries of a 300K+ population city with multiple branches; I also support the business director. Most of the job is data analysis (SQL, Crystal Report, etc), and some purchasing stuff. I also help in the creation and analysis of the budget, goals etc. With the exception of the IT guys, I am the most techie here and the only one that can really do simple stuff like Excel macros or SQL queries.
    Given the fact that I am extremely active in the community, I am also the unofficial "community and political" adviser.
    The big advantage of this job is that it's a straight 8 to 5. No weekends, no OT, nothing unexpected, which is a stark contrast to the aerospace world where I never knew what kind of week/day I was going to have. Therefore, planning the immediate future and the various tasks is extremely easy (plus I get way more holidays eheheh).
    The bad part is that there is very little satisfaction, it can be kafkian at times, and the pay is quite low.

    Very valid point.
     
  21. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #21
    To be honest, OP, you sound like you have a solid set of goals and a clear plan to achieve them.

    If you have previous experience with calculus (sorry that wasn't clear to me at first), then with a bit of a refresher I bet you could pass out and move on to the more advanced prerequisites.
     
  22. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #22
    If you feel confident enough with the basic classes, like Cal I, you can take a CLEP test and get credit and move on to the next level. These tests are offered for most subjects for a nominal fee.
     
  23. Plutonius macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    #23
    Looks good and I wish you luck. Try to get your dream job before you are 50 since there is age discrimination (especially in the technical fields).
     
  24. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Location:
    Texas
    #24
    Thank you all for the valuable insight!
    I re-worked the plan to see how far I am from the Math degree from where I am now, keeping prerequisites in mind. It seems that I am at about 6 semesters from the objective (roughly three years). I can probably bump it down a little bit if I do summer/weekend/accelerated classes (which I will do).
    This is the result (I am not considering that I can probably get to faster to the objective through examination):

    I Semester:
    Pre-Calculus

    II Semester:
    Calculus I (it's a prereq for all that follows)

    III semester:
    Calculus II
    Intro to Matrices and Linear Algebra

    IV Semester:
    Calculus III
    Abstract Algebra
    Analysis I

    V Semester:
    Intro to Probability
    Numerical Analysis
    Differential Equations

    VI Semester:
    Analysis II
    Intro to Complex Variables
    Linear Algebra (*it's not clear if the university considers the Linear Algebra course in the III semester for credits).


    Of course, I wouldn't drop my business associate as I am so close to it, and as someone mentioned it might have some value to show that I am not just a techie without any clue of business.

    The final result is that at 39 I would be with a Bachelor in Math, an associate in Business Admin, and a reliable work history (roughly 20 years, all long term employments).
    From a certain point of view, being laid off was one of the best thing that could've happened to me.
     

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