Revisiting this whole School Thing...

Several years ago, I was still overly ambitious and decided it would be a wonderful idea to go back to school and get my masters.  The program at Purdue University made it seem so attractive: online, the capability to get it done quickly, applicable classes to improve your knowledge on-the-job...

Well, let's just say that life as a full time Engineer who also takes classes is not at all fun.  And here are a few reasons why:
  1. You have to work with UNDERGRADS
Honestly, a lot changes in the real world.  When you have a 40+ hour a week job that requires you to...I don't know, work all day you go to bed at 9:30pm and wake up at 5:30am.  Yes, that's exactly 8 hours...because that's all you have time for.  
So when you decide to be ambitious and ALSO go to school, you basically use every bit of free time working on class.  Gone are the days of weekends because you have to listen to 3 lectures and read 3 chapters on how often your neurons are firing.  
And when you can do this on your own time, that's wonderful.  Trust me.  But...when you have to reply on others for project's enough to make you want to shake them and tell them that THIS IS NOT HOW THINGS WORK IN THE REAL WORLD.  
Last week, I was in Boston all week for work.  I got home Friday evening, and proceeded to work Saturday and Sunday on a project from the class from hell.  Imagine my surprise when one of my peers let's the team know that he will be unavailable for the weekend because he and his gf are celebrating their 6 month anniversary.  It took a lot of patience to not provide the statistical probabilities of he and said gf staying together and having a successful engagement/marriage, etc. but I also wanted to shake him.  I would love to have a weekend galavanting around some college campus with a hot (or even mediocre at this point in my life) co-ed whose only concern is whether or not you're going to lavaliere her any time soon.  I mean really?  This project is like 50% of our grade - get focused...before I jump off a bridge. 

2. You complete activities that are completely irrelevant to your actual job
My current class, Quantitative Physiology, involves hour long powerpoint lectures that seem to "pass" over the concepts.  So, after cover 10 chapters, 12 lectures, and other various research papers, studying for the exam is quite overwhelming.  Well, imagine my frustration when said exam is over EVERY MINUTE DETAIL OF ONE OF THOSE LECTURES.  Are you kidding me?  I really have to tell you every aspect about why a monkey isn't rewarded by focusing on a dot?  
Guess what students?  You will never use this.  In fact, in the real world you are NEVER tested.  And when you's about the Bloodborne Pathogens you "might" come across in your work.  
So excuse me for being a little PISSED that I spent 6 hours of my Sunday prepping for an exam that only covered about 30 minutes of my studying time.  I hate you.  

3. The only thing comparable is working with others...
That's right, the only thing I can find comparable to my actual job is that I am completing a ton of work that I will never get credit for.  Why yes, I'd love to rely on my "technical expert" counterparts to be able to write a paragraph, but apparently they were blessed with aptitude on one side of the brain.  
Yes, I'm a neurotic control freak who still wants to do my best, but's about a comma every once and then?  And spell check...that's there for a reason kids.


So basically, my education has only proven one thing for me.  That my anxiety medication either works great or that my world view has really taken a 180 in the last 6 years...because basically, my only goal at the end of the semester is to receive a B in the course.  Still aiming too high?  Well that's only so I will be reimbursed by my company.

Only 28 and I am already a bitter adult.  Success!

The Real World - Ain't It Fun?

Call it coincidence, call it fate.  However, I call it...reality.  On the way home from work after a long day, a song popped on the radio and boy did it really get it.  The song was Paramore's latest, Ain't It Fun.

Most of you are smart, so I don't want to spend an hour deciphering the lyrics of a song that pretty much describes itself.  However, for those of you who tend to turn off your thinkers on the weekends like me, here we go.  The song basically talks about how growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Specifically, there is a great part of the song that yells, "Don't go crying, to your Momma, cause you're on your own in the real world."

I literally started laughing because boy oh boy is that the case.  It's not so much that I feel alone - far from that!  It's just that, this "adulthood" thing that I've been trying to figure out for approximately 6 years is something my mother has done for 39 years and my dad, 48.  In fact, my dad has been with the same company for 46 of those years.  So...I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect a pity party.

It made me think of the interactions I have with high school and college kids on a daily basis.  My company employs many college kids as interns to gain experience in the field,  I advise the chapter of the sorority that I was a member of, and I have many friends and family members eager to emerge into this guise of freedom that is surely what everyone expects with adulthood.

And honestly, when someone from those groups comes up to me and tells me about how ready they are to move on all I want do is play a scene from one of my all time favorites, Billy Madison, and remind those kids how overrated growing up is.

It's not all bad, but let me just throw some caution to the wind.  Life is not cheap. 

My first job out of college was with a very large pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis.  When I saw how much I was making, I had basically already planned my first Nordstrom shopping spree in my head.  I had decided to live at home to "save money" and couldn't wait to get to spending.  However, about 6 months in my excitement started to falter.  

For one thing, while 8 hours a day is an expectation at most job, 10 hours is recommended and 12 hours is best.  This was no problem when you were interning right?  That's because you were being paid hourly.  In the real world, you make the same flat fee.  Now that really comes in handy when you're feeling ill and still get paid...but when you've got approximately 40 hours in by Wednesday, it gets less fun.  

After realizing that life as an intern was a complete 180 from life as a full timer, I had to come to come to terms with those two words that every college grad dreads: student loans.  Realizing that nearly a 1/4 of my salary would be immediately turned over to pay off of my undergraduate loans was depressing at best.  I soon saw my dreams of owning a Range Rover in 5 years dwindling away.  

Don't get me wrong, I made a few good decisions along the way, but I definitely still tried to live like a baller.  I ended up getting an apartment on Indy's north side for an "affordable" $1200/month, paid a car loan of $500/month and started to see why my parents were constantly complaining about wireless bills, cable bills, and all of the luxuries we Milennials have grown accustomed to.  

Now, I see that I was trying to live the life my parents were living immediately out of college.  Granted, as an engineer I was emerging college at a much better salary than many...but I still couldn't believe how much of my check was already spent before I got it.  And trust me, it doesn't get better.  I practically need a degree in Finance to understand how insurance companies determine your out of pocket expense and credit cards...don't get me started.  

And when I start to get down, I think back to when I was a mere undergraduate.  Driving my 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, my only concern being what my costume would be for the fraternity party of the week, and how many calories were in a 6 inch Subway sub.  

So...for those of you in the final countdown to adulthood - SLOW YOUR ROLL.  Try to live like a college kid for as long as you can.  There's no reason to try and grow up overnight.  Work hard so you can play hard...and at the end of the day, give yourself time to complain.  But fair warning...we're all in the same spot.