Career Paths: Tell me yours!

I was one of those kids who went straight into uni from high school, and as such I will graduate with 2 degrees but very little experience.

In light of this, I’m very interested in career paths. Where did study fit into your career? Has education affected your job prospects? What has been your job timeline? If you feel inclined, I would love to know wages too.

If enough people respond I think this could be very interesting. Is a university degree worth the tens of thousands of dollars it costs? Is experience invaluable?

Obviously this isn’t mine, but an example:
1992 - 1994 waiter, $6p/h
1994 - 1997 restaurant manager, small restaurant $30 - 40k pa
1997 - 2005 restaurant manager, 5 star restaurant $45 - 55k pa

Actually, it’d be interesting to see where people who’ve had kids fit in, too.

Please reply!

By which I mean people who took time off to look after kids…

Cliff’s Notes version:

Drop outta high school: 1986
Meaningless scrub jobs: 1986 - 1998
Kick-ass corporate-world job obtained purely via knowledge gained while tinkering with computers for 15 years and ability to BS my way through a job interview: 1998 - present

1988-91: Graduate School, Fellow, <$15K -> MS Mathematics
1991-1994: Uni Instructor, $28-35K
1994-1996: Graduate School, Fellow, <$15K -> MS Statistics
1996-2003: US Federal Contractor, $38-48K
2003-:US Federal Civil Service, ~$70-75K+
1998-:Part Time Uni, ~$10-15K

Graduate degrees that develop marletable skillbases do pay in the end.

1983-1984 Wendy’s, Friendly’s, Delivering Drugs (for a pharmacy), Math Tutor at Community College.
1985-1988 Navy Electrician {E4}
1989-1992 HAVC Mech at Medical Center
1992 Quick Job and went fultime for Computer Certificate.
1992-1999 Series of 4 jobs as a Programmer/Anaylst and Network support mainly RPG & Microsoft Server software.
1999-present Dead End job as Sr. Programmer Analyst in what is now a 2 man shop. It’s a job but not a career.

baker’s assistant: 4 yrs

part-time dishwasher at uni: 4 yrs

fast-food worker (between schools): 2 years

public high school teacher: 1 year

photo editor small circ daily newspaper: 1 year

fast-food manager: 4 years

MBA student: 2 years

uni instructor and Ph.D candidate: 2 years

fast-food manager: 1 year

used car salesman: 4 years

MIS professional: 5 years

PC assembly and troubleshooter: 1 year

MIS professional: 2 years

Logistics Analyst: 6 years

Whether the degrees are worth the cost depends on how you value your time, money and education, or lack thereof.

I would question the value of an undergraduate education resulting in $100,000 in student loans. In the US, student loans are never forgiven but can be re-structured.

It really all depends on how much the education will cost you in terms of everything. One also has to be willing to put one’s life “on-hold” for four years or so: hard to do when one has a spouse and children with all the requisite obligations.

However, there are things one can only learn in a university environment, particularly at the Masters and Ph.D levels, which can be priceless depending on the individual and his values.

1996-1998: Movie Theater employee. $6/hour.
1998-2000: Kinko’s. Started at $7.50, and left at $11.50/hour.
2000-2001: Animator/illustrator/designer. $30K/year.
2001-2002: Freelance animation/illustration/design. $8K/year (I sucked at it).
2002-2003: Custom framer at an art gallery. $7.50/hour. Feeling pretty miserable.
2003-2004: Cell phone sales. $28K/year.
2004-present: Back where I belong, doing web design, illustration, animation, and multimedia. 35K/year.

I work full time and drink beer on my off time. I do want to go back to school so I can work up the chain here, maybe get into management.

I, too, went straight from high school through college. Graduated Dec. 1985 with a Business degree from Arkansas Tech.

1986-1993 Nuclear Power Plant Field “Engineer” ~50K (including Per Diem)
1994-1996 Small Software Company CSR/Misc Duties ~30K
1996-1997 Insurance Company Data Analyst ~37K
1997- present Project Scheduler/Management Consultant (Couple of different companies/clients) started 65K, now up to ~80K

went directly from high school to undergrad and then took two years off before graduate school

1997-2000: college

2000-Dec. 2000: unpaid internship for Democratic party (campaign)

Jan. 2001 - October 2001: marketing analyst for B2B (47K)

February 2002-July 2002: taught standardized tests for Kaplan, tutoured and worked as a sales/marketing analyst for an IT outsourcing company. I don’t even know what my yearly salary was…I was paid on an hourly basis and showed up when I felt like it. I was living with my parents and goofing off before law school.

2002-2005: law student. Living off cash reserves, FAFSA and parents. Worked one summer where I managed to pull in some dough.

Present: attorney…federal lawyer…you can look up my salary on the internets if you’re interested :slight_smile:

So looking it over, I’ve spent most of my life in school and pretty much professionally mooched off of the 'rents.

1974 First professional music gigs as bassist
1976 Had to leave high school
1976 Next professional music gig as keyboardist
1977 First gig at a radio station
1979-1980 Productions Manager at another radio station
1980-1998 Music gigs as guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer, engineer. Also much unemployment. Temp jobs, worked in record stores 3 years, Exhibition Place, Toronto, 3 years. More temp jobs. More unemployment. Moved to US in 1998.
1999-2001 Hardware replenishment at Sears
2001-present Radio announcer, engineer, producer, assistant to the Operations Director.

Downward spirling, picking up speed.

Thanks to those who have replied so far. Appreciated.

Wow, you have worked a lot of jobs! I just calculated I owe just over $20k Australian, which is just over US$15k, nowhere near $100k. Thank goodness.

Hmm… There haven’t really been enough replies to answer my questions. Fingers crossed for some more. Any parents who took time off for kids out there? Anyone who earnt a degree but hasn’t ever worked in that field?

My college degree was in Finance. I graduated in the middle of a recession and had no prayer of getting a job, so I got a Master’s in Computer Science and got a job as a programmer. ($30k rising to $60k, American dollars 1984 thru 1992). For eight years my Finance degree went unused.

In 1992 I was programming some financial models and the Finance guy in one of our business development units liked my work and hired me on as a financial analyst ($60k rising to $90k). Since that time my C.S. degree has gone unused.

In 2001 I was laid off during another recession, with no prospect of getting another Finance job. I started over as an actuarial analyst, which involves a series of nine very difficult exams before you become a credentialed actuary. The exams involve calculus, economics, and finance, much of which covered material I had learned in school decades earlier. (Salary $53k rising to $72k over three years, with prospects for earning at least $100k after I finish the last four exams.)

So my answer is yes, education is worth it, sometimes in ways that aren’t immediately obvious and may take decades to come to fruition. But then, education was a lot cheaper when I was a student!

My wife got her BS in Mechanical Engineer and never got a job in the field. She went to Chubb to get a start in Computer Programming and eventually got her Masters in Computer Science. She has been working as a Programmer or Software Engineer since she graduated from Chubb.


I got fired via e-mail last week!

Not gonna include the dates. I feel old enough this morning already.

Lawn care
Fast food
Airport linecrew
Meter reader
School bus driver
Retail sales
Bakery driver
Ambulance driver
Sailboat race committeeman
UPS driver
Offshore oil worker
Computer sales
Flight Instructor
Engineer (aerospace)
Engineer (aerospace)
Student (working on MS now)

Is that even legal?

I’m so sorry. (Unless it was the out you were looking for?!)

Put me in this boat. Or both of these boats. Degree in history, never worked a day in my life as a historian. I’ve had, really, three professional jobs, and if you add them together, they equal a career by default, even though the three jobs have nothing to do with each other. I did take three or four years off to stay home with the ankle-biters, and it would be easier to say what it cost me professionally if indeed I had a profession. At a minimum, it probably got in the way of me taking advantage of the dot-com boom, but where that would have led me, heaven knows.

The truth is, your career is what your resume says it is. For this reason, most people get pigeonholed into something, and find it harder and harder to get out. Having kids is a definite crimp, if for no other reason than it makes it harder to retrain, or take a gamble on something new, or move. You can definitely get trapped, which is something you should think about when you’re just starting out. It’s easy to be casual about things when you’re in your 20s, but it’s worth remembering that when you’re 35, you may not have the luxury of starting over. So pick something you like, or alternatively pick something that’s lucrative, so that you have a cushion to fall back on later.

Pizza Guy
*HS Graduate…1985
Pizza Guy
Security Guy
Music Store Guy
Warehouse Guy
Airport Ramp Service Guy
*College Graduate (BA English, Liberal Arts college)…1989
Pizza Guy/Ramp Service Guy
Tech Editor Guy
Bank Guy
Music Store Guy
Chimney Sweep (best job I ever had)
Drunk Guy
*Graduated Defense Language Institute, AA Arabic\EW School\TS Clearance…1992
Army Guy
Temp Guy
Insurance Sales Guy (agency employee)
Insurance Teacher Guy
Insurance Guy Guy (Trained new Insurance Guys)
Insurance Guy
Insurance Claims Guy

1988 High school diploma (barely)
1989 Started college
1990 Pizza delivery / tips, minimum wage, free pizza
1992 Telephone survey taker / around $5 hourly, all the aggravation I can eat
1992-1997 Musician / jack squat
1997 College degree, anthropology/psychology
1997-1998 Musician / still jack squat
1997 Bar back in Prague / around $1 and hour, but priceless benefits package
1998 Body piercer in Prague/ no idea, but it wasn’t much
2002 Law school, salutatorian
2002 Law clerk to U.S. District judge / holy crap, I finally have some money
Present: Self employed lawyer / I get by