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RealHuman

Greetings from California w/ Early Life Crisis (Help)

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Hi everyone,
Its great to know that there is a forum for Engineers to seek help as well as help others. 
Here is my "life crisis" if anyone is willing interested in helping me out. Its going to be a long read so bear with me. 

So I am a recent graduate with a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Structural Engineering in May 2018. Right out of college, I really wanted to start working and make money due to the fact that I was burnt out from school and studying. I graduated with decent grades, had about a 3.1 GPA and was out of luck when it came to job hunting. I decided that taking the FE exam and obtaining my E.I.T. certification would help my job prospects. This decision helped me and I was able to receive many responses from companies. 
Here's my problem. I recently just accepted a job working as a Civil Design Engineer at a top Civil Engineering Firm. The pay is alright, however I am working in the Land Development Team. My initial goal was to work in design, however I wanted to work as a Design Engineer in Structural Engineering. My goal was/is to work at a firm that focuses on Buildings (hoping to one day work on high rises/ skyscrapers). My dilemma is that I do not know how I should go about with my career path. The industry that I am in currently is not bad, but it isn't what I obviously wanted to do.

I am wondering if I should keep working professionally and pursue the P.E. license (which will take 3-4 years). But by the time I have my license, I may have as well given up on the dream in going into Structural Engineering.
or
Keep going for the P.E. license and then go to grad school for Structural Engineering after obtaining the license. However, I do not know if the license will help me in the structural engineering industry. (Sorry I do not know much about these details)
or
Work for a year or two and then go to grad school for Structural Engineering. And then go and pursue a license. I am not particularly interested in this option because I personally believe it might just be a waste of my year or two.

I understand that to become a Structural Engineer is probably one of the hardest career paths to take as there are so many obstacles that I would have to cross, so I am also considering whether or not it would be worth the extra effort to pursue. 
Looking for practical answers.

Thank you

The Real Human :)
 

Edited by RealHuman

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hi @RealHuman! Welcome!

First, let me say that if it's something you're passionate about and know you will enjoy the work, it's never worth giving up unless your priorities dictate it. 

Why can't you keep looking for a job in your desired field while you're working at the current place? Also, is there any structural department within your firm? Could you state repeatedly (but kindly and respectfully) that you would really love the opportunity to transfer divisions if the opportunity presented itself? It's always stated that it's easier to look for a job when you have a job, than when you don't. 

I've found that you need to tell people what you want and ask for it, or they won't be able to give you exactly what it is you want, because they won't know that you want it. 

You've practically just graduated. Don't give up! If you're planning to get a masters, maybe you can find a company that will subsidize your additional degree? 

Also, where are you located? Are you in a metropolitan area which would lend itself to having more structural firms? 

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I could look for a job while I work at this place but isn’t it normally bad etiquette to switch when I haven’t even worked a full year yet? Not even at the half year mark either. 

There isn’t a structural department at my firm and after attempting to apply to multiple structural engineering firms, I find that they prefer those with a masters degree over those with just a bachelors. 

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21 minutes ago, RealHuman said:

I could look for a job while I work at this place but isn’t it normally bad etiquette to switch when I haven’t even worked a full year yet? Not even at the half year mark either. 

There isn’t a structural department at my firm and after attempting to apply to multiple structural engineering firms, I find that they prefer those with a masters degree over those with just a bachelors. 

if you're not happy, then you need to move before you get stuck. yes, firms do tend to prefer masters degrees, but i know many colleagues who have not pursued the additional education and are succeeding in their field. Keep on looking, you'll find the right fit. 

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Welcome to the site! Where in CA are you located? I'm up here in the Bay Area, and there are several of us hanging around the site from different parts of the state.

I think @tj_PE has provided good advice, and I pretty much agree with her. One tidbit I can provide is based on my personal experience. I got a job right out of graduating college with just an undergrad degree (granted, I was living in the Northeast at the time) with the state transportation agency. I wasn't really interested in public work doing bridge design, as I wanted to do building design, but I took it because it was the only job I found. In the mean time, I had sent my resume to several other companies before I took that job, but didn't get any offers out of it. About 8 months into working for the state, I got a call from one of the firms I'd sent my resume to probably 8-10 months prior asking if I would like to come in for an interview. Long story short, I went for the interview, and started working there not nine months after I had started working for the state.

Then I was there for two years before moving back to CA (where I am from) and got a job that I've now been with for more than three years.

I don't think it's necessarily bad to make a switch with less than a year of experience at a company. I would just warn that you don't want to do it too much, and really, I'd extend that to two years, because if you have a history of consistently switching jobs every two years, potential employers could see that as a warning sign.

But truly, I think you are worrying about this a little too much for having just graduated four months ago! I'm not sure how common it is for new graduates to have their first job be the job of their dreams. I think you should have plenty of time within the next year or so to secure a job in the field you actually want to be working in, so I'd do what tj recommended and just continue to apply for jobs, but work this job in the meantime. Sometimes jobs can take months to get anyway, so you might begin a process with a company that will take some time to complete before you start working there.

 

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