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When You Realize that Engineering is Not Your True Calling

Here’s what you can do.

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When you realize engineering is not for you but you are already an engineer

One of the biggest problems that an engineer can have in his or her entire career is to realize one day that he or she doesn’t want to become an engineer anymore. Maybe he or she feels the profession isn’t his or her true calling, and that he or she is bound to do something else.

If you are one of those engineers, know that this is pretty normal.

When you realize engineering is not for you

There are engineers today who already want out of the field but fail to make the jump because they are too afraid to be judged. I mean, why would anyone leave a job that is considered as high-paying and seen with so much prestige?

Perhaps your reason to quit engineering is the lack of fulfillment at work. Don’t feel bad about it because that happens.

Amy Wrzesniewski, a Yale School of Management professor, made a sensible explanation about this and what to do about it. “Students think their calling is under a rock, and if they turn over enough rocks, they will find it,” she said.

One can never truly find his or her true calling if he or she does not give any job this one thing – a meaning.

When you realize engineering is not for you

Surveys show that meaning is the top thing that millennials want from a job. But Wrzesniewski’s research shows that less than 50% of people see their work as a calling. This leaves many of her students to feel anxious, frustrated, and unsatisfied even by the good jobs and careers that they have.

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But notice that even the most common occupations in America – retail salesperson, cashier, food server, and office clerk – are not really jobs associated with “meaning.” And yet many people keep these jobs in the long run. Why?

Because they exist to help others. Just like clergy, teachers, and doctors, whose jobs are naturally humanitarian.

When you realize engineering is not for you

According to Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, people who see their work as a form of giving consistently rank their jobs as more meaningful.

This means that one can find meaning in any job in any organization. You just have to find it or become more conscious about whatever service you are providing.

In the case of engineers, you can think, in a bigger picture, about your job as something that helps humankind. The project, device, system, or product that you are working on once finally done will serve its purpose eventually. That is your service.

You do not have to change careers if you feel like you keep a meaningless job as an engineer. You only need to set a mindset and reframe your tasks as opportunities to help others. That should make your job as an engineer more significant to you.

Source: Harvard Business Review


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Engr. Amy Aguirre
Civil Engineer, fashion model & GineersNow TV host. Speaks Spanish, English and Portuguese fluently. Based in Melbourne and Manila. Follow me on Linkedin


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