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5551212nosoupforyou85 karma

This might seem like a silly question, but if you didn't expect to enter the workforce, what did you expect to do? As a person that somehow parlayed a 2 year associates degree into an engineering position, I am fascinated by the career paths that were available to people who continued education after a bachelors degree. And a follow up follow up, how have you been supporting yourself through, what, 10 years of post-secondary education?

5551212nosoupforyou17 karma

Absolutely! I had a graduating class of 3, so a very small program at a fairly small local college system. Our teacher was from "industry" and pretty much started the program from scratch. It quickly became recognized as a very specialized program that could launch people into pretty advanced roles. But that was a few years after I graduated. My employer found out about the program through word of mouth at job fairs, etc, and reached out to my teacher. Two of us interviewed and accepted offers and up until a year ago, we had both been working there over a decade. I had one other interview before my offer and that was as a lumber factory maintence electrician.

I could get into the specifics of my degree, but that would likely dox myself worse than I already have. It had a specialty of automation, and I was actually hired as an automation engineer. When we started, it was like we had a year of experience, vs the 4 year graduates who only are aware of the technology in this industry, but hadnt used it. We had used it pretty much daily for 2 semesters. They spent a lot more time on math. I had one very basic math class that was easier than some of my high school math classes. As I've advanced, I've had a few instances where I'm a little behind in a very specific use case, but it really hasn't held me back.

The part I lucked in to was finding/getting the job. Most jobs require 4 year degrees. At least they say so on the postings, however the skills knowledge I had would probably have allowed me to pass most demonstration tests that would be required for an entry level position. But once I was in, the work just built on more functions to the same tools I learned in college. So it kind of naturally progressed from there. I moved up to lead engineer, and eventually engineering manager. After some restructuring, and a high-stress position in project management, I moved on to another company in my industry. They didn't seem to question my education history much at all (its a pretty small world in my field, for better or worse.)

I've heard that after 5, or even better, 10 years experience, you are considered mostly equal to the 4 year degree holders. There may be a few staunch "bachelors degree only" companies, but any place big enough where multiple people share the hiring decisions, a good applicant is going to overcome the education stigma that one or two people have. Ive met a few people that have treated me a little poorly due to not being "part of the club," which is unfortunate but not something i can control. At certain companies (like fortune 500 level) i would probably hit a wall where mu education level would keep my out of advanced positions in management or business. But it really depends on your life goals and what is really important to you. At this point in my career, im more interested in an "easy" day to day life than a title or status. Im making more today than ever before, although some could look at my current title as a step down from where I was.

Thats more than you probably ever wanted to know, but I like talking about it (obviously.) I believe in the associates systems and think that they are a great alternative to the modern education complex.