It was a different world when I got my BSEE 50 years ago. As I recall, the best minds wanted to go to work for IBM or Bell Labs, and military programs were the engine that drove the industry. With a BSEE in hand, even a dumb guy like me could always get a job. And if you figured engineering wasn't much fun, you could use your engineering background as a springboard into sales or marketing, advertising, real estate development, publishing or any biz requiring an analytical mind, a supportive spouse, chutzpah and luck.
I was a lousy engineer, so I switched to sales, then marketing, early in the game. My dad thought I was nuts being a salesman was about as bad as being a Republican. But it kept food on the table and, more important, it was fun. Closing a big deal or hitting the jackpot with a product launch was fun squared. When a friend asked me to give up a cushy marketing job to join him in the ad biz, it took me about a nanosecond to join the parade. In those days the ad biz was really fun, particularly if you had the Apple 1 and Intel accounts. Nothing beats an advertising high when you know that what your colleagues are doing is helping a client grow the business. Then, 25 years ago, we moved from California to New York, where I became publisher of EE Times, the most fun adventure ever.
Over the years, two of the companies I worked for went out of business, after being late to adopt a new technology. Three others, on shaky ground, were acquired, and thousands of jobs were axed in the process.
Havng fun while earning a living often requires jumping ship while you still have options and time and luck.
Most engineers I know are having fun. Solving complex problems, often in collaboration with other bright minds, is a very satisfying experience. But for some it's no longer fun living in constant fear that their jobs will eventually be outsourced to India, China or Russia.
So do you whine the days away, or quit your job and do something else while you still have options and time? Scary choices.
When semiretired Frank isn't having fun doing whatever he does, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.