So before I went into engineering, I was a political science major. Life was easy. I worked some breezy part time job that was completely unchallenging but had some friends there and was totally mothered by all the employees. Then I graduated and the harsh realities of the real world started to sink in. First, I couldn't seem to land a paying job in anything at all related to my degree. Political jobs were for the most part non-paying, and even then the few non-paying gigs I'd try to land while still in college never panned out. I was frustrated by the obvious practice of filling these jobs with cronies or family members, especially the paying jobs, leaving a whole bunch of students like me stranded.
Not to get off on a soap box, but there's way too many people my age who graduate every year with useless humanities degrees. We were told all we needed was a degree and our intelligence and determination. But I couldn't even get a job that would match the not-so-posh student pay I was making. So I landed an unrelated job at a good company elsewhere and started to make plans for a more challenging and more rewarding career.
Fast forward four or five years. Corporate America has sucked more life out of me than I knew I had. The bags under my eyes have their own bags. I get called "m'am" more and more. I'm not bitter about the choices I've made since, I think I've done the best I can with what I have. But I didn't foresee how this technical, white collar institution would be so much like my former field of study. The politicking. The cliques. The gossip. The undermining. I certainly expected plenty of this, but what I didn't expect was how often it gobbles up the technical or even profit-making goals. I knew I was going to have to "play the game" to succeed. And I'm glad I didn't come in with any naive expectations since I'd already had most of those destroyed after the fallout of my first degree. But it wears on me. Every time I think I'm getting away from it, every time I've cleared a little space in "technical experience" land an army of shmoozers and corporate yahoos tries to invade. I keep hoping that at the "next level" I'm going to be able to settle in somewhere. Build up some defenses on a small hilltop and enjoy a few years of relative security. But maybe I'm fooling myself. It's not that I'm averse to playing the game, I could probably get good at it if I really tried. I just didn't think that's what I'd be doing right now, so early in my career. So I'll keep trying to clear that space and keep trying to build my fort and hope that it's not all in vain. Maybe this next year is my year.