08 July 2008

A Wrench (an impossibly long post)

I've been thinking a lot these past few days about my impending move. You see, I'm supposed to be moving to Huntsville to begin my career. Ever since I moved back to Birmingham from Auburn it has literally been my only true goal. That may be a large part of why it's been so hard to motivate myself to any other end (namely finishing my masters degree). That may be part of it, but there may be other factors involved that I have yet to weasel out. Regardless, I've been hell bent on moving to Huntsville to take part in that great rat race that is aerospace engineering. It's the only logical thing to do, right? I mean I spent 4 years at Auburn earning my bachelors degree and it's been 3 hard-fought years now of me trying to earn my masters degree- and all in aerospace engineering. Hell, it's the only reasonable thing to do. When friends would suggest to me, as they often did, that I should just get a job here and live happily I would simply laugh it off like it wasn't even an option. It doesn't make sense. Not only does it not make sense, it never even seemed to be in the realm of possibility.

However, in the last week or so there has been this idea creeping up the back of my mind that up until today I was eager to ignore. I could just stay here. I could just take a job in Birmingham. Of course there is no aerospace work in the city, so if I were to take a job it would be outside of my expertise but does that really mean anything at this point?

When I was still on my initial scholastic course- that being to get my bachelors, masters, and PhD without any breaks- I told everyone (including myself) that I was getting my PhD so that I would have a much larger array of cities to choose from when I went into the field. Basically the idea was that I would get my PhD in aerospace and then I could teach at any university in the U.S. that had an aerospace curriculum. With only a bachelors or a masters on my resume I was doomed to work in one of a very few select locales that had aerospace jobs. Those locales being (in my mind, at least): Hunstville, Houston, Southern California, Cape Canaveral, and the research triangle. Admittedly those aren't bad options, but the idea of limiting myself to such a small number of locations seemed stifling to me. I needed to have options, damnit, and hundreds of them. Of course I never really intended to move out of the south so there was already that limitation in place but that was beside the point.

At this point my original motive for getting my PhD, which I will discuss at another time, is long gone. Obviously my secondary motive (location) has been lost as well. It wasn't until probably a year ago that I began flirting with the idea of not getting my PhD right after my masters. You have no idea how taboo that concept was to me when it first moved down the backroads so gentle on my mind. I was actually considering throwing out what had been, at least somewhat, a lifelong dream of mine. Well not really throwing out, you see, but certainly putting on hold. Could I really just not get my PhD right after my masters? Is that even possible. The idea was, dare I say, liberating. After that point it was pretty much set. I made a half-assed attempt to get into a respected PhD program in my field and pretty much threw my towel in after that. Of course I got rejected by the program but by that point it was a foregone conclusion that I wasn't getting my damn PhD.

Ok, I am waaaaaay off the track of my original topic and if you are still reading you are a saint and I am sorry. I'll get back to it. These last few days I've been thinking a lot about the simple fact that I may not get a job in Huntsville. The job market is shit right now and to be honest I just don't think I care enough to take a job that doesn't suit me. I could probably get a job designing missiles or some crap but I don't care for the work at all and I don't want to do it. Period. So having now considered the possibility of not getting a job in Huntsville I am forced to the obvious follow-up: what do I do? Do I try to get a job in my field in another city? Nope, I don't want to move too far from home. So what then? Well my only recourse at that point is to take a job outside of my field that's close to home. Well if I'm going to do that it may as well be in Birmingham, right? Could I really just get a job oustide of my field in Birmingham? It most certainly wouldn't pay as well as a job in my field. I think I'm okay with that, though... to a point. If I can get a job here making even in the ballpark of what I might make in Huntsville it seems to me to be a better option- that is if I am making concessions already, which I have been doing now for a long time. So I could just get a job here and stay really close to my family and friends and simply work outside of my field. Given I would make less money but salary isn't my primary motivation. Maybe it's possible. How liberating.... and scary.


Sarah, etc. said...

Liberating and scary! You may also find that you really enjoy doing other kinds of work, which you may not necessarily have been exposed to, had you stayed with your original path. You can keep your aerospace passions and still make good bank using your secondary and tertiary skills.

Apollo said...

zomg first blog comment! you rule, sarah.

i've actually got a job lined up in huntsville now. that's the strangest part of all this.

i wouldn't even know where to begin with getting a job outside of aerospace to be honest.