The Reject Engineer.

Hey there, It’s Mrs. RRR here, the reject mechanical engineer. And I say I’m a reject engineer because, I’m not your typical, average Joe engineer. Let me paint you a picture to help give you an idea of what I’m talking about….

Imagine you are a female in a male dominated career, like 1 woman to every 8 men.  That wouldn’t be too bad by itself, but I’m also one of the youngest employees. I’m almost 1/2 the age of the average engineer at my company. Every day a majority of what you see is all these old men -in my eyes they’re old…no judgement- and occasionally older women just doing the same thing, day in and day out. You get a back stage pass to see the results of working a high-stress job for 30+ years and witness people developing a laundry list of health issues. Picture seeing people daily who are dealing with heart issues, obesity, severe depression, various types of physical ineptitude, passing out at work, etc. Hell, there was a guy I worked with that committed suicide.

To be fair, I’m not saying 100% of the health issues are work related; sure, some may be hereditary, but all of them are exacerbated and compounded by the work, and all the underlying aspects of it. Sitting on your ass all day staring a computer screen, dealing with copious amounts of stress isn’t exactly what the doctor would recommend for anyone, much less people already dealing with health issues..

What would go through your head? Would you want work this high paying, high stress job for the rest of your life? If you knew you might develop serious health issues? And for what? To be able to buy that luxury car that no one really cares about? To be able to eat out every day? (Believe me, some people buy every meal at the work cafeteria, which just adds to their weight issues.) To be able to “afford” that large home you probably don’t need?

Before I started working as an engineer, intern and full time, I used to envision that there would be so many fancy, expensive cars in the work parking lot because engineers make a lot of money, right? Well sure, we make pretty good money, but it’s how people spend it that makes a difference. My mindset is so different now, than when I started over 5 years ago. I realize that while these people that I work with make a lot of money, they do not spend it wisely. I see these new, but average, cars in the parking lot and wonder how long that car pushed back their retirement. I overhear conversations of all the people around me, from what new car or gadget they are planning to get with their annual bonus, to a person having to sell their concert tickets because they don’t have enough money to pay their bills. This guy is smart enough to be an engineer, but can’t manage a damn budget? Sad.

Let me give you a little background info so you can see why I come into this with open eyes and notice all the negatives. Growing up, I was always good at math. In middle school, I was on the mathematics scholar team where we would travel around and solve math problems. Because I continued to excel at math in high school, which for some ridiculous reason is where 17 & 18 year old’s are tasked with deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives, I pursued engineering. There was definitely spoken and unspoken pressure and influence from my family to become an engineer.  Mostly because my father and grandfather are engineers, and as the youngest of 3 kids I was the last hope for another engineer in the family. Unlike most teens, gaining approval from my parents and grandparents was pretty high on my priority list. Now that I know what being an engineer means, I wish I had pursued something different. Not to mention that now I work with my father, and every conversation we have revolves around work. Thanksgiving? Work. Birthdays? Work. Just got out of heart surgery? Work.

With that being said, I really don’t feel like an engineer. Do I know what I would have pursed instead? Nope. I wanted to change majors multiple times throughout college. But I stuck it out, mostly because school was hard enough, and the thought of going to school any longer was not appealing to me. I thought with an engineering degree, I could be anything I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted. I really don’t feel like that’s the case, at least with me specifically. I struggle every day in my job. I have come to absolutely hate it. I do not deal well with stress. I have a tendency to get emotional over little stuff…aka, I cry when I get overly stressed and that’s not a very good trait in any kind of workplace. (Admittedly, I’ve had to start and stop writing this article several times because it’s been emotional for me) Not to mention, I am very introverted. I don’t speak my mind, and I have a hard time mustering up the courage and speaking up when the need arises.

However, as much as I hate some aspects of it, its not all bad. There are some small benefits that have come from this job, like traveling. When I first got hired, I was asked to travel to Seattle several times for work. I was also given the opportunity to be able to move to St. Louis for 6 months earlier this year for a work project, with housing & per diem all on the company dollar. But these benefits don’t come close to outweighing the negatives. The thought of coming to work every day and sitting on my ass all day long with all of these people, is one of my main motivations to become FI. This is how Mr. RRR got me on board. He knows how much I dislike my job, and cutting decades off of my time in this field is a dream that I never envisioned could happen. Everyone I work with has the same blueprint to “success”. Get a job at the company, and work there until it kills you. Retirement planning isn’t a thing because you won’t get to live in retirement anyway.

But until the day that we hit financial independence comes, I will continue to explore and try to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, because as I’m sure you’ve figured out, this isn’t my dream job. I am trying to take advantage and make the most of my job. I’m just thankful we “saw the light” and changed our mindset, our spending habits, and our savings habits, so I don’t have to work my life away. With that being said, I am extremely thankful to have a job, so that Mr. RRR and I are able to pursue our goals. Maybe you also hate your job, or even specific aspects of it and just never thought there was any other alternative to working 80% of your adult life. Even if you don’t hate your job, you can still steal your future back from the corporate world and keep it for yourself.

5 thoughts on “The Reject Engineer.

  1. Emily, great meeting you at Camp FI! I’m working my way gradually (backwards) through the blog and really loved this post. I relate so very much to your situation: I kind of fell into my field unintentionally and am now doing my best to turn the good income into assets that will set me up for FI and a future that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer every day. It’s tough to stay patient while knowing that freedom is possible, but i’m also so very grateful to have an end in sight. Good luck to you both in crossing that finish line as soon as possible!

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    1. Andy, it was great meeting you too! As much as I’m glad to hear that someone else can relate to me and my situation, I hate that’s happening to you. But, I’m glad that you have an end in sight and good luck to you as well on your journey and getting to that finish line!

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  2. Great article Emily! I was an engineer at general electric for 5 years and just left my job in February. I felt the same way you described here. I started buying rental properties a couple of years before quitting and that’s what gave me the comfort zone to leave and live on less money for sure, but at least I wouldn’t have to go back to that god-forsaken company everyday. I hope you get out soon, it’s just as good as you imagine!

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    1. Thanks, Jake! That sounds similar to us and buying rental properties. Congrats to you on your journey! It gives me more motivation to keep grinding and pushing towards our goals.

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