OT: What would you do? (No, not the TV show)

Submitted by tjyoung on March 29th, 2010 at 9:31 PM

So, I realize that this may not be the best place to pose the question, but why not...

I'm graduating from Michigan this semester with an engineering degree and have been fortunate enough to land a job with Accenture. I'm expected to start at some point this summer and have been looking forward to it.

Now, I've been playing a sport for several years now, and missed going to the Olympics by a few spots this winter. I was planning on retiring from the sport to start my career with Accenture, but just recently, an opportunity has arisen that I think might give me a good shot at being a national and international power in my sport.

I'm at a crossroads. I don't know whether I should start my career or give it up before it has even started in order to pursue my Olympic dream in 2014. If I turn down Accenture, there's no telling if I will get the opportunity to work for them (or any other company for that matter) in the future. I don't know if I want to risk it.

So basically it comes down to this: what would you do? I've been getting advice from people aged 10-60. It's funny, the younger ones tell me I should take the job and start making some money while some of the more experienced fellas use the classic line, "You're only young once...", meaning I might as well give it one more shot.

So, what would you do? And if you decided to postpone the career for a little bit, would you also try to double-major, get a minor, or masters degree? (FYI, Michigan MBA is out of the question without job experience.)

I look forward to your responses.



March 29th, 2010 at 9:41 PM ^

I would absolutely no questions asked take the opportunity to go to the Olympics. I would probably also do school work as my schedule permits. That is a special opportunity that few people get the chance at. If I ever got that chance in my sport (cycling) I'd be on it like stink on a monkey. For me, school can wait. Besides, the Olympics may look good to employers.


March 29th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

Well, you obviously have to do some soul searching before making the decision. Ask yourself a few questions.

1. How much do you need to improve?
2. Do you believe you still can improve?
3. Do you still enjoy the sport, and will you in four years?

You have an Engineering Degree, and should definitely get some type of grad degree while training. But unless you are being offered an absurd amount of money, I would put the real world off as long as possible.

Dark Blue

March 29th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

I would work at getting to the Olympics, If you only missed out by a few spots, then you have chance. I mean how many people get to go to the Olympics? Not very many, and I'm sure if you do make it, that will look great on a resume.


March 29th, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

Mayyyybe, and just maybe, you should have gone with that other offer you got. You know, the one from the company that got acquired right after you were offered. Then all your dreams would've come true.

Just kidding Trevor. Go do your figure skating thing. It's so much better than a job. At some point you need real world experience, we went back and forth on your offer because of it. Maybe try to work out somethig where you could intern instead of going full-time. Trust me, you wanna avoid full-time work for as long as possible. Good luck man.


March 29th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

I had a wise golf partner / professor who said handle any daunting task like this.

First imagine you have unlimited resources.. time, money, people, ect. Then solve your problem with said resources. After the problem is solved, work backward toward what your true resources are to get to a obtainable resolution. The point is you get your direction and are in a mindset that the problem can be solved.

Your situation is not necessarily a problem that needs fixing it is more of a choice. However, it should help you get a direction of what you truly want to do.

If that doesn’t work I recommend you catching that episode of Entourage were they go shrooming in the desert for inspiration.

Good luck and congrats no matter what you choose.


March 29th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

...the "opportunity [that] has arisen that...might give [you] a good shot at being a national and international power in [your] sport"?

It's hard to weigh the pros and cons without a better sense of your competitiveness. What's the development that's going to take you from "missing the Olympics by a few spots" to national championship contender? New pairs partner? New coach? New funding source?


March 29th, 2010 at 11:20 PM ^

Good question. I was trying to be as discrete as possible, but you were right on one of the guesses: a new partner, who will be attending Michigan LS&A next year. She was at one point ranked the best female skater in the world under the age of 19 as a singles skater.


March 30th, 2010 at 8:27 AM ^

...it seems pretty clear that you have to at least give it a shot. There will be other jobs, especially if you do in fact make that very tough leap to the (very) elite level of national/world/Olympic champion contender. Everyone loves a winner.

In addition, if your potential new pairs partner will be a Michigan student next year, you're obviously guaranteed success given the trend. Just think of the puff pieces the networks will produce on you and your partner (the Michigan Pairs team) and Emily and Evan (the Michigan Ice Dancing team). The marketing possibilities are tremendous.


March 29th, 2010 at 10:05 PM ^

kidding when you say, "If I turn down Accenture, there's no telling if I will get the opportunity to work for them (or any other company for that matter) in the future. I don't know if I want to risk it."

That's not a real fear, is it? "Any other company?" Man, if you have decent skills and know how to market them, there will be literally hundreds of opportunities for you down the road.
Even in the worst economy in a frickin' century, I have friends and colleagues who've landed good jobs and been recruited away from current employers. (Of course I've had others who have been laid off, yes, and are struggling. But they, like you, have the good fortune to be living in a dynamic free market economy that despite its systemic problems has historically created jobs and will create jobs like nobody's business.) Best part is, sounds like you have an opportunity to sit out the recovery and return when headier days are upon us.

Corporate jobs can be pretty soulless, in my experience. Just one man's take but if you love your thing, go do it, youngin'.

BTW, I haven't gotten good advice from a 10-year old since I was about 10, and even then it wasn't very good. I'd drop that demo from your survey group.


March 29th, 2010 at 11:22 PM ^

Mark, I'm impressed that you picked up it was me. What was the giveaway? The username? The skating? Haha, thanks for your support man. It was a tough decision to turn down [your company]. I would have enjoyed Austin. Who knows though, we might reunite some day. By the way, APM initiation this Friday. I think you should show.

Kalamazoo Blue

March 29th, 2010 at 10:05 PM ^

Base your decision on what you want to do for the next four years of your life. Don't get hung up on what the long-term impact will be.

If you're itching to earn a paycheck, then go to work for Accenture.

If you want to pursue your olympic dream, then do it. Any employer worth its salt wouldn't hold this against you. In fact, I think pursuing your dream will make you more marketable with future employers.

My advice is to not overthink this. Take some time. Go for some long walks. Go with your gut.

Good luck!


March 29th, 2010 at 10:16 PM ^

You will not regret it. Nothing is sadder than hearing what if stories especially form people who aren't lying.

Dude, you have a UM degree (can you say alumni network), an athletic pedigree........you will get hired and your exposure will help you get hired. My bet is if you go for your dream you will never regret it.

The deciding factor is how hot your partner will be.

In all seriousness........if you don't go for it you are a complete fool if you truly love the sport.


March 29th, 2010 at 10:18 PM ^

Home Depot and Fed Ex always will hire olympian want to be's:))

World Class athletes are in high demand in every field. Have some confidence in yourself for crying out loud.


March 29th, 2010 at 10:28 PM ^

If you think you have a good shot, go for it. Competing in the Olympics would be great. It would be a lot better than sitting in an office 8+ hours a day.

You do not want to live with the "what if?"

Mitch Cumstein

March 29th, 2010 at 10:28 PM ^

You have your whole life to work. If I could I would go back in a second to the training, practicing, living with teammates lifestyle. Those were the best days of my life. Also, if you don't follow your dreams, you'll regret it the rest of your life. That job (or another one) will always be waiting for you with the degree you have.


March 29th, 2010 at 11:01 PM ^

Olympics all the way. Look dude, worst case, you delay the job, get a little more education and end up washing out of the Olympic program (remember worst case), you'll end up with some extra student loans and a slightly later start in the work force, but more education. So you work a few years longer than all your friends before you can retire. Big deal. The extra education is worth it for sure.

You don't do this and you'll have to live your entire life knowing you let it pass you by, you'll regret that a lot more than having to be in the work force a few extra years due to getting a later start.

Also when you win gold, you better have a block M visible when you're on the podium, or we'll unleash Jack Johnson on the ice during your next performance and let him do some pairs checking. Hail!


March 29th, 2010 at 11:02 PM ^

18 years ago I had the opportunity to go overseas to pursue a career in professional soccer. There's no telling where it would have gone, but I was convinced that it was time for me to "grow up" and join the work force... Another 30 years and I hope to leave the work force. But I'm sure Accenture is a once in a lifetime opportunity too.(SARCASM)


March 29th, 2010 at 11:35 PM ^

What you are seeing here are 28 people that would sell their souls for the decision you have in front of you. Few of us know the endless early morning hours spent in pursuit of perfection, the uncountable sacrifices made, and the grind of having to give everything to a sport that only celebrates a few.

On the other hand, most of us (myself included) are in "good" jobs - but not great ones. Not passionate ones.

If, after careful counsel from those in your business, you have a chance to go to the Olympics - do it. Your body will only have so many attempts at this.

As for other opportunities (Accenture) - they will be there. Trust me. You have a lot more years to pursue those. They will be looking for great minds that can relate to others in sports. They will be looking for you.

What employers want are what you seem to embody - discipline, tenacity, boldness, passion. Your work ethic is unparalleled in your age group. Accenture is a job, not a passion.

Accenture, et. al. will be there. Jobs always are.

Read these again - for they all point one way. Do not wake up 30 years from now and wonder. Go for the gold. You will never regret it.


March 30th, 2010 at 12:28 AM ^

I work for the company you mentioned above. You'd be surprised at some of the things people at our firm do while working at the company. Some are professional referees, volunteer firefighters, and others are cheerleaders. I'm sure you can talk to your recruiter or folks within the firm to work out various options.

I agree with the comments above, too. Not only will the jobs be there, but so will networks. Make sure you keep in touch with your recruiter and anyone else in HR you may have met.


March 29th, 2010 at 11:34 PM ^

Thank you for all of the responses, everybody. This was very refreshing to see, and most of the posts are consistent with the way I have been feeling lately. It's great to hear these opinions from an experienced UofM-alumni network (or UofM-football-fan network). Yes, I was worried about finding a good job in 1, 2, 3, or 4 years, but I guess the best thing to do is to just be confident.

Again, thanks everybody. I'm starting to think clearer now. If anyone has an opinion on what I should be studying for the next 1-4 years (minor, another major, masters), that would be awesome.


March 29th, 2010 at 11:34 PM ^

You are 22.

You have the next 40 years to work.

You probably only have 3-8 years left to skate at your best.

Do the math and tell the working world you'll see them sometime in the 20-teens.


March 30th, 2010 at 8:14 AM ^

And hang out with Engineers.

Or you can continue what you're doing, and hang out with people like this:

And you're debating this?

Beyond hotness of work partners, frankly, a job IS hard to find at the moment, but really, by the time you're done making your Olympic run, the market almost has to be better, and there may be MORE jobs to be had at that time. Now's not a time to have to work if you don't HAVE to.


March 30th, 2010 at 9:01 AM ^

As most everyone has said, try for the Olympics. You will have a long time to spend at work. Trust me on this.

As for what to study- why not broaden your horizons? Answer this- what do you want to do with your engineering degree? Is there a way to add value to your current degree? For instance, learn a language?

Only you can answer the question what to study, but I'd make it something where you really added something unique to your engineering degree.

Good luck- we'll be following you.

Feat of Clay

March 30th, 2010 at 11:39 AM ^

Dude, you have to go for it.

Life can be a big speeding freight train, and once you start your career--no matter how satisfying--it can be hard to stop. Responsibilities will pile on (debt, house, dependents, projects and co-workers who rely on you, etc). That's how most grownups live. I'm not saying it's terrible to have a career path; I'm just saying that as we get older it gets harder for most of us to make risky choices and go with our passions.

Right now, scary as it is to turn down a great job, it's an easier call: the train hasn't left yet. You've got a chance to go do something cool for a couple of years before boarding--DO IT. DO IT DO IT You have the rest of your life to be an engineer. Be a skater now.

I think I've beaten that train metaphor to within an inch of its life.


March 30th, 2010 at 7:59 PM ^

I agree with most of the other comments - go for the Olympic dream if you think you're anywhere near close to it.

As far as what to study, I'm not sure doing an engineering masters is the best move. If you're already looking at going into consulting, combine the undergrad engineering degree with an MBA (if you're interested in more of the business aspects). Or, if you can get a local business internship, that might be another route.

good luck.


March 30th, 2010 at 8:09 PM ^

I think you should give the Olympics a shot. Honestly, if you don't you'll end up regretting it. Whereas you might not find another good job right away, but eventually you will. Your engineering skills will last a long longer than your athletic ability. And I'd bet that down the road, a lot of companies would look at your Olympic training as a plus - it's a sign that you're a committed, hard-working person.


April 1st, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

You'll regret it forever if you don't try... you don't want to be sitting there 10-20-30 years from now say, "Damn, if I could have worked just a little bit harder, I might have made it." There will be other engineering jobs, and I'm sure being an Olympian or being able to put "U.S. National Champion" or "World Champion" will open a few doors down the line as well.