Way OT: What was the best career advice you ever got?

Submitted by IUandUofM on June 21st, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I have to answer that in front of 200 people ... all my ideas are boring ... anyone have any witty advice?



June 22nd, 2010 at 9:28 AM ^

work out for you.

Your logic:

I sucked balls at Engineering therefore Engineering sucks. Imma gonna be a lawyer....oh well, suck at that too. Law school sucks....Do you see where this is heading?

Logic is not your strong point. 

Best advice I ever got: "Don't make excuses. You are the only reason if you don't make it and if you are lucky enough to make it, thank your family."

Jim Harbaugh S…

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:28 PM ^

law school is a great place for you.

Patent lawyers are always in demand as there are such a small number of people qualified to practice patent law.

Law firms and companies are always looking for patent lawyers and the offers are substantially better than the $30,000 with no benefit offers that some places are currently offering for first year associates.

a non emu

June 22nd, 2010 at 9:59 AM ^

I am an engineer and love it. I guess it all depends on what you do/where you work/how good you are, and all that, but I can't imagine doing anything else. The work is interesting enough, the money is good, the hours aren't insane, and I still wear the same free tshirts (from umich career fairs past), and shorts at work that I wore in college.


June 22nd, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

different career paths for engineers, even amongst the different disciplines.

I'm a pretty happy Civil Engineer....... except in the summer when I head off to work every morning while my wife, a teacher, does not. 


June 22nd, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

You must not know any good engineers. I have a very close friend who trains astronauts to do space walks, (Extra-Vehicular Activity, in NASA parlance) does Flight Readiness Reviews for Shuttle launches, (including climbing aboard the Orbiter) and lived in Russia helping prepare for the joint US-Russia Mir missions. And, he's an aerospace engineer.

I have another former classmate who is a Naval aviator, and was a test pilot on the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. He was also a squadron commander in Japan.

I have still another close friend who figured out how the B-2's stealth properties worked as  an undergraduate, designed engine nacelles for the Boeing 777, and now designed rocket engines.

Compared to your decision to leave engineering and go to law school, who do you think is having more fun?


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

I had a sexy-sounding job too:  I designed jet engines.  The new joint strike fighter?  I did some work on that engine.  My coworkers designed the engines for the F22 raptor (that was before I started working there).  And you know what?  It was no fun whatsoever - just a lot of long hours in poorly-lit cubicles for not nearly enough money.

I was half-joking in my first post - I really do have a lot of respect for the folks who stick with engineering.  My classmates and profs at UM were the smartest group of people I've ever worked with, and I say that as a current student at a top-10 law school.  That doesn't change the fact that most of the engineers I keep in touch with are no happier than I was, and not a one of them gets the pay or appreciation they deserve.


June 22nd, 2010 at 10:44 PM ^

My cubicle is very well-lit and if my car would stop breaking down and if I didn't have to pay for rent, gas, groceries, cell phone bill and everything else my broke parents can't, I'd have plenty of money too!

-kerfluffled and slightly concerned intern

I will, however, go insane if I have to live in southern NY after I graduate.


June 21st, 2010 at 11:04 PM ^

Get a degree or a trained skill in something you enjoy, and something you can use practically. Accounting, finance, chemistry, biology, something that is going to be of use not only now, but 30 years from now.

Sac Fly

June 21st, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

.... i just turned 18 and the instructor at my school was a retired fire chief and he taught me everything i needed to know about fire fighting, so when i turned 18 i asked him what i need to do to increase my chances of getting hired. he told me that i needed to go to these departments right away, and he gave me a list of FD's that he knew would not hire an 18 year old kid with no real time experience. i got shot down at every one and i went back and asked why he did it, he told me that he wanted me to experience the feeling of failure now, so i would know what it felt like and i could move on.


June 21st, 2010 at 11:15 PM ^

Had I listened to the advice given to me I would have played it safe and got a 9 to 5 like everyone else. I worked in construction and learned all that I could in hopes of starting my own company. After being told numerous times that I was wasting my time I started my own company and have been happy ever since.

So for me the best advice is believe in yourself. Vindication from others will come only after success, until then it is up to you.


June 21st, 2010 at 11:23 PM ^

 advice I ever got was volunteer and let them see what you got.  I did and it's paid quite well for me.  The best advice I was ever given was reenlist and make it a career.  I retired now I'm on my second career getting ready for a second retirement.


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:11 AM ^

When I became a hiring manager and had to put my income and success in the hands of others I gave myself some advice:


1.  Never hire anyone who went to Ohio State or is a fan of the school.

2.  Never hire someone who wears pastel-colored dress shirts.

3.  See Rule #1


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:18 AM ^

"Let your work speak for itself."


Yes, "who you know" plays a big role in one's career as well. But typically that's only good for getting the job, not succeeding at it. Eventually you will be judged on what you produce, and almost all charlatans get discovered eventually (see former FEMA director, governor of Illinois, etc). The people who are truly indespensible and sought-after are those who continue to produce time and time again. And that track record follows you wherever you go.


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:39 AM ^

I grew up on a farm in SW Michigan, which had some never-spoken job advice.

"Work harder than the man next to you."  On the farm I was the boss's kid, and the man next to me was usually hired help.  If I worked harder than him, he had no room to complain.  I've held a lot of jobs since then, and at every one I've made it a point to work harder than anyone else, which is easy since most people are looking to scrape by with the minimum.

"You have to know how to do everything."   Farmers can't call a specialist every time something breaks.  I've worked at GM, Boeing, UM Hospital, Young & Rubicam, Seagrams, State Farm, U.S. Bank and now Virginia Tech doing everything from counting paper clips in a mental institution to writing grants that bring in millions for cancer research.  In every case I came in as a low level office worker, identified a need, created a better job and inserted myself into it.  As Heinlein says, specialization is for insects.





June 22nd, 2010 at 12:53 AM ^

The best advice I ever recieved was, "just finish."

I'm a screen writer, so it makes sense.

It can be difficult at times to complete a script, but creating something is better than giving up, So just finish was always good advice, because I tend to be extremely critical of my own work, and I always think it sucks. So when I finish it, even if I hate it, most of time other people like it, which tends to be beneficial for my career.

If I gave up on every script I didn't like I wouldn't have a career in this business.

Dark Blue

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:58 AM ^

The best career advice I ever recieved was from a nice Police officer

He said "Son you better stop selling drugs"

And then he took me to jail


June 22nd, 2010 at 7:52 AM ^

Save for retirement immediately, and blow money on fun things early in life before you have a wife and kids... there are two times you can have fun in life - before you're married, and after you retire or are divorced.


June 22nd, 2010 at 8:02 AM ^

"Identify a role on your team that you can make your niche. Make yourself indispensable. If that role doesn't exist, make it up."

It's a lot harder to fire the guy that does something no one else on the team does.


June 22nd, 2010 at 9:05 AM ^

"Keep your eye on the ball"

Works in just about everything, sports, life, and your career. Identify your goal and keep your eye on it

Still in AA

June 22nd, 2010 at 9:40 AM ^

Not to be cheesy, but when I was younger my grandpa told me, “there are too many mediocre people in this world.  Whatever you do, try to be the best at it.”  Those words still drive me.


June 22nd, 2010 at 9:47 AM ^

One thing I always hated in the military was the "just get it done" that would often come out in seemingly impossible situations.  Somehow, it always got done.  Now I try to stress the no excuses thing to my students at least to a certain degree.  

James Burrill Angell

June 22nd, 2010 at 10:06 AM ^

First time I cut open a human cadaver in an undergrad physiology lab I hurled. Professor told me "Medicine may not be for you". Never took a science course again and went the law school route. Best choice I ever made. Best advice I ever received.

Blue in Yarmouth

June 22nd, 2010 at 10:58 AM ^

The wisest man I ever knew once said, "Get a job, go back to school or get the hell out!"

My Dad was fed up with me after sitting around the house following dropping out of HS and gave me that advice. I chose to go to work (lobster fisherman) and did that for a couple of years before I realized what a value an education is.

I am now a Cardiologist, practicing for 4 years and couldn't be happier. Thanks Dad, and RIP.