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Life Advice for a Graduating Engineer
Hey everyone, little bit of a strange topic here, but I wanted some opinions/advice from like minded people with a little more life experience under their belts.
I am currently a Senior Mechanical Engineering Student at West Virginia University, and will be graduating in May. These last 4 years my primary professional focus has been getting good grades and gaining relative experience- which I have done through working 2 internships and being the President of the University's Archery Team (Great Leadership Experience).
My focus now, however, is solely on finding a full time job for after I graduate. I have been applying to numerous jobs and attending career fairs etc. With all of this it has me really thinking about the future. Like many on here, I am absolutely torn up with the world of bowhunting. It is truly my passion, but I do enjoy engineering and consider myself good at it.
Right now my mindset is to find a job in an area that I would not mind living, and establish more experience in the industry. I have dreams of someday living out west, but I feel that getting my feet planted, having a good job, and having the ability to spend my time off on trips is the best plan of attack for me as of now. I also have an obsession with whitetail here in the east/midwest. The balance of work, where to live, and my love of hunting is something I would like to hear opinions on, as I'm sure the vast majority of you do it every day.
I figured my fellow Bowsiters could be a wealth of knowledge and experience on this, and wanted to reach out to you all.
You're a young man. Believe me when I say that young men turn into old men faster than you can imagine. If you dream of living out west then do it now, do not wait. The longer you wait the harder it will become to make it a reality. Find a job out west and make the leap. You will not regret it.
I agree with Brotsky.
Wyoming has a lot to offer on the recreational side.
Brotsky typed pretty much everything I was going to. Excellent advice and info. If hunting muleys, elk, antelope, etc. is of interest to you, get out there and do it. Work and live in an area you'd like to play (hunt) and have the time of your life. Good luck!
I agree , move out west now . I’m sure your skills will be needed there as much as anywhere . It’s tough to move once you are working elsewhere , have a wife who may despise out west , kids that hate to leave friends behind and so on . Just find a job out west and roll .
Everything else will be fine! Good luck!
I moved to Colorado out of engineering school in 1978. Since then, I've probably taken over 150 big game animals in the past forty years, all within a day's drive of home. While our politics in this state suck, I have never regretted living near a vacation hotspot. I can ski an hour and a half from home. I hunt elk and bear 2.5 hours from home, and pronghorn within 5 hours, in two states. And I river raft.
Someone else can live in New York. I'm not interested.
I know it’s hard to think about retirement at such a young age, but like Brotsky said, it will sneak up on you in a hurry. My biggest recommendation would be to start saving for retirement now, even if it is just a little bit to start off with, then increase it more as you advance in your career. That way, the time value of money will work for you.
Make a list of states you'd like to live in, compare cost of living and state income taxes, choosing the right state early on can make a huge difference in your take home pay over a long career.
Brotsky x 2
It happens fast especially after marriage and kids
Take Charlie Rehor's advice. It's the most important decision you will ever make. That decision should be based upon how like-minded the two of you are. She doesn't necessarily have to hunt and fish but, if not, should be totally supportive of your passions...as you should be of hers. Two way street.
I moved to CO 4 days after I graduated with an engineering degree from WI. I’d already worked as a summer hire there the preceding 2 summers. It was a great place for the 35 yrs I lived there. Finished up my career in BC.
Based on my experience, move west straight out of college. A future wife from the west is a good thing too. I’ve seen many couples return “home” if they were both from the same town somewhere else....WI, TX, MN, Ontario , etc.
Great advice so far. I agree, figure out where you want to live, move there and then build your life/career.
Go west young man and do it now. I faced this decision 15 years ago and now feel too rooted with land and family to move. Like others have said, move to Wyoming and block off a week to go home every mid November. You’ll know within a few years what was right. White tails are one of the easiest animals to hunt from a distance, especially when that’s what you cut your teeth on. Wyoming has deer, elk, antelope a few others that you would have a shot at, as a resident.
Charlie's advice is the most important. Who you marry will be the #1 factor in determining your future happiness. That being said, I graduated in 2000 with a mechanical engineering degree. I took the safe route, and got a good job at an established company. I went to work 2 weeks after graduation. At the very least, take a few months or a year off to camp, fish, hike, hunt, and explore the country before you start full time work. That's one thing I definitely regret not doing. Take some chances when you're young. It's so much harder to after you've got a wife, kids, and a mortgage.
It seems like yesterday I graduated college with an engineering degree, loaded everything I owned in the back of a shortbed, single cab Chevrolet pickup and beat feet to the mountains. Had a couple of job offers but Houston, Dallas, the Gulf Coast or the West Texas oil patch all sounded like torture. The plan was to go to Colorado and work a year, then keep working North to Alaska.
Hell, that was 30 years ago!
Colorado was a different place then and the hunting, fishing and skiing kept me here. I got out of the big city and up into the mountains as soon as possible.
Today, I wish I had kept going North to Alaska a long time ago. Life seriously can get in the way of your dreams. Still trying to get a job and move that direction but have to deal with a big move and a wife that probably won’t go.
You have nothing holding you back or down right now! Go big. Go North. Go to Alaska!
Plenty of work options and you will not regret it.
You can always come back to the lower 48 if you have to for a few other critters to hunt that aren’t up there:-)
I see some have already mentioned 'wife'.
Dude. Be sure about that one. Very sure. That alone could keep your dreams from becoming reality
Whatever you do, start contributing to your retirement fund IMMEDIATELY with your first paycheck. Don't even wait until your second paycheck. Start immediately. Run the numbers if you don't believe me. You could start now, quit contributing when you turn 30, and still be lightyears ahead than if you started contributing at 30 years old and continued until you retire an old man. Trust me on this (why wouldn't you trust a random dude on the internet anyway?).
Its way easier to move when you are young and single, than old with a family. I did not see if you were married? any plans for a family? But work can be found everywhere for a competent engineer.
X2 what Kurt, Brotsky and Charlie stated above.
Some of the bigger companies have offices all over the country so if you can land a job with them you can move around the country and stay employed with the same company.
When I was younger I worked a lot of contract Engineering jobs which gave me a wide variety of experience in a shorter amount time than just working for one company on one product line. This also allowed me to move around the country and work my way to Colorado.
Another thing to consider W.T Deer are found in most states so do not let that hold you back.
Maybe your whitetail obsession is greater than mine,maybe not.Go where the best professional opportunity for your family is.My county of residence has ZERO PY whitetail entries but I got a wall full.
It takes 10X longer to kill great whitetails in average places than in great places......make the money to hunt the great places,then drive to them.
I graduated in 1975 with two engineering degrees and went to work in Morgan City, LA, because they offered the most money. Became very miserable of the swamps immediately. Took a much lower paying job with the Forest Service and moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This was when the tree huggers were a minority, and we cut timber and did on the ground work. I loved the area and the job (mostly, as tree huggers gained traction we did more paper pushing). Move west now- don't keep ties to the east that will be hard to break. Consider lowing paying jobs in great places verses better paying jobs in crummy cities.
I moved to CO when I was 28 and single, now 43, married, family and still live here. My advice would be to make the move west while you are single and able to decide for yourself. I don't regret it for a minute, and am glad I never settled down in MN when I still lived there.
Get into an area that has long term potential ie aerspace. Get your career started where you can learn and grow your degree. You can then hunt out of state as needed. Lots of job ops in SoCal right. Will be one more in 4 years! Retirement comes quick.
Chase your dream out west and be happy. Wife and family will follow, you can share the outdoors with them. Life is so short my friend. Its ok to selfish while your single.
Charlie nailed it! Never underestimate how important this is.
Don't wait, find a job where you want to live with the key animals you want to hunt. Or, if the job / money is too hard to pass, set up shop there and travel to your hunting destination(s).
There are many threads on this topic already. I would drive right past Colorado on your way to Wyoming and points north.
Co. native and jumping ship as soon as I can.
I would listen to what Charlie Rehor and Genesis have said. Also, I would suggest you broaden your list of life priorities. Really try to take a step back and find out what you want in life and what will make you happy. I'm guessing family would enter into your equation. For me, that is a much higher priority than hunting. That being said, I wish I had not waited until i was 40 to hunt elk in the Rockies. Good luck as you are in a very enviable position that most would love to be in.
You've heard it dozens of times already.. DO it now! I don't know of many men (especially outdoorsy men) that don't wish they did what you have the ability to do right now. Some factors to consider that may have already been mentioned... No State income tax (SD?), lack of a wife right now (you will find hot chicks wherever you go and more down to earth gals out west), Marry well- what he means by this is if you are going to marry, might as well find a good lookin chick who's father owns 8600 acres of prime hunting land (and im not kidding with this at all). Just go,, do a month of research and thinking and mostly ,,just talking to people and pack your SHIAAT and head out.. It will be the most nerving and exciting thing you will ever do in your life. GOOD LUCK!
Here is a real life, current example:
My son [22yrs old this month] is a maintenance electrician for Vail Resorts. He lives in Dillon, CO, works at Keystone Resort on the ski lifts full time. Works 4 /10 hr days + O.T.
He works, snowboards, mtn bikes, hunts, fishes, bought a new pickup, going to Texas for the weekend next week, going to Alaska next month....
The world is yours for the taking - just go get it man.
As with most things in life, money comes into play. Can you afford to go where you want to live and wait a while to get that good job?
A second consideration is family. Does wanting to live near family take precedence over where you really want to live?
Third, what kind of engineering job do you want?
When I was a newly graduated Mechanical Engineer, getting that 1st job was #1 priority. Just about every job listing you see wants you to have some experience. So getting a few years under my belt was huge. I had never been west to know what I was missing. My only geographic thoughts were - get someplace where I hadn't lived and not in a big city.
My first job took me about 4 hours from home. Six years of that was enough for me to realize that, while there were locations I think I'd like better, being near family was important enough to move home. Jobs were easier to find with experience.
Living in the Midwest, almost all of the Mechanical Engineer jobs I saw listed were in manufacturing - manufacturing engineer, basically. As far as I could tell, when your career takes a 'path' like that, it can be hard to change directions.
Also, before graduation, I pictured myself working in R & D or something of that nature. It was many years later that I realized what a pipedream that had been as many companies don't even have an R & D department & if they do the budget is very small. It can be very hard to quantify how much money an R & D department makes, but it is easy to see how much selling 1,000,000 of part X makes you.
Don't overlook working in utilities. Civil engineers may be preferred in this field. Having spent sometime in Wyoming the last couple of years, I couldn't help but think 'what would a Mechanical Engineer do out here ?'. Work in utilities, I would imagine.
This is an exciting time for you for sure. Enjoy it & Good luck!
Look for a job with a good rotation.
I flew up to the Red Dog in Alaska with guys that Rotated in from all over the world.
The guy sitting bext to me lived in Hawaii. Pretty shocking that he worked above the Arctic Circle!
He had grown up in Alaska and loved the beach. He was loving life and got to have a tropical vacation every couple of weeks!
I established a solid reputation as a ME in the state I graduated from first (WI). Like you, I wanted to move out west as well. Having great job experience opened doors and the flexibility to move out west 5 years after graduating (even with a family).
I love hunting and the outdoors, but upon graduation with a BSME my first priority was to find the best job, with secondary consideration to where it was located. If you're ambitious to move up into management, keep in mind you probably won't stay with one company or location forever. Who knows where & when, and management or not, but you'll likely be relocating down the road, perhaps more than once. Excel in your work, and you'll soon be in position to start doing travel hunts anywhere you want.
Even before I went to college, I knew that for me, where I lived was paramount. I moved from Connecticut to Colorado for a few years between high school and college. Living where I wanted was reinforced when I moved from Vail to St. Louis to go to school. Talk about culture shock. I did real well academically and had many interview offers upon graduation. None however, were for jobs in Colorado. I declined all of them, not wanting to waste their time or mine on offers I would not accept, and returned to Colorado. I've never regretted it. It gets harder to move the longer you stay in one place. Jobs and careers can be established anywhere. Quality recreational opportunities close at hand, and the views from my decks, not so much.
sticksender has a good point. I went back to a company I knew had other locations out west. That makes it easy to transfer AND move up. I could go back to WI anytime...but I keep looking at the weather forecast!
Lots of great advice on this thread already, but I thought I'd add my two cents and share my perspective.
I graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering 16 years ago and went to work for a major oil company. I've spent my whole career in New Orleans. I too have been bitten by the bowhunting bug, though it didn't necessarily happen until after I went to work - or I should say the passion really grew after I graduated so it wasn't really a consideration when I graduated. Honestly, I was just focused on finding a job at the time!
Whilst living in New Orleans doesn't provide me the kind of bowhunting I like doing out of my backdoor, my job has pretty much allowed me to take all of the trips I've wanted. My job gives me 5 weeks of vacation and I also get every other Friday off, and it pays well. This has afforded me all kinds of trips - in the last ten years I've hunted elk (nine times), mule deer (three times), moose, caribou, mountain goat, black bear, and whitetail out of state multiple times. I have plans to chase other animals I haven't been able to - sheep, mountain lion, brown bear - in the upcoming years as well.
I only bring this up to highlight that I've been able to do these things not because I live in Colorado or Montana, but because I have a job that allows me to do so. I more or less lucked into it, and you're well ahead of where I was when I was in your shoes if you're already thinking of these things (I know I sure wasn't!). If you have the resources to do so and make things a priority, you can get it done regardless of your location. The flip-side being highlighted is definitely true, too - having these opportunities within a two hour drive, for example, makes doing them more frequently a lot easier. But if you have aspirations to head to some of the more remote areas and chase some of the more exotic animals in North America, it's going to cost you some money.
All that said, with a Mechanical Engineering degree, there's a good chance you can have both if you want - ie, live in an area that allows you some of these opportunities out of your backdoor and also provides you the salary and benefits to head out for game you can't hunt locally.
Are you focused on any industry in particular? Or right now, you're keeping all options open?
I moved to MN right out of grad school because I was a muskie nut. Don't regret my decision at all. Have great muskie fishing all around me and great whitetail hunting within 5 hours all around me as well. Whitetail hunting here isn't great though.
focus on your career. get the best job you can......screw everything else.
I am a college engineering professor, and I have to say I agree more with the minority opinion here. Get the best job you can, regardless of location. Get that critical experience under your belt and then move to wherever you want. You can live anywhere for 2, 3, or even 5 years. The trick is you have to been disciplined enough to be able to walkaway from a comfortable job and lifestyle (hobbies, friends, significant others, etc.) to move to the location of your dreams.
If you plan on moving west anytime in your life do it now. The only way I wouldn’t is if you get an offer from a company that you can’t refuse. Like double the normal starting pay and 5 weeks vacation. Couple reasons for moving now. 1. Is family, if you start a family on purpose or by accident moving will become 10 times more complicated. 2. Is vacation. The longer you are with a company the more vacation you will get. It is tough to move companies 10 years in and negotiate the same vacation. Pay doesn’t seem to be that hard but many companies seem to be pretty steadfast on vacations. 3. Mountain hunting is a young mans game and at times can require more traveling than you are probably used to in the east equaling more time away from home and tougher with family. If it were me I would move to Alaska then once you are ready, move back to the lower 48. I regret not moving there when I graduated college every day.
Next up, focus on getting your PE license. A bargaining chip worth having. The sooner you get it, the more doors it opens.
Good luck. Have fun.
World is in your hands, your not tied down. Go somewhere you could see yourself living 50 years from now. Do what makes you happy the rest will work out in the end. Oh and don't get married. If you do, wait a while. Really make sure you know who your marrying. Otherwise all you worked hard for could be lost. Words I wish someone had told me. Good luck to you
I faced similar thoughts when I graduated from college and began my professional career. Now I am a few months from retirement. Only you can decide what makes you happy. Good paying job in a more populated location where you can afford a nicer house, nicer truck, and to go on nicer out of state hunts or do you go for a lower paying job in an area where you really want to live. Truth is everyone would like to live in Colorado, Montana, etc. and this depresses salaries for many if not most jobs in those locations. You likely are going to have to sacrifice something when you choose.
Lot of good advice as others have mentioned. I'm convinced there are those that live life and then there are those that plan for life... The only thing you can count on with any plan is things changing, that's life... At your age, keep in mind that wherever your boots land - there is a decent chance things get very difficult to move in the future - that may not seem like a reality now, but it happens... Meet someone, your job becomes a career, etc. - next thing you know you have a family that you don't feel you can't move... If you aren't tied down - move where you want now, not in the future, now :-) World is at your fingertips - go live it!
A lot of wisdom here. I'm pretty much in your same boat (4th year medical student...5 years of residency left...ouch. already hitched 5 years, no kids). I lived in Durango, CO for a decade and my wife is from there so I've already got the Western hunting disease. The only cure is to have millions of acres of public land in your backyard. I'll be taking an ENT position or starting my own business back West, hopefully Wyoming. Sounds like you have life by the balls, do with it what you want. I'd say it would be way easier to move back East (home) later if west doesn't work out, vs. hoping to drag your family west inthe next five to ten years. Good luck either way! And choose your wife wisely, that will dictate your hunting volume or marriage success more than job/finances/etc.
I’ll take the other side of what some are saying. If you move out west solely for the outdoor aspect and don’t land a good job, that “in my opinion may not be a good move.” You could be fortunate and find a great job in a great location. Or you could find a much lesser job in a great location. I’d focus on getting a good job first and then focus on bowhunting and location. You don’t necessarily have to take a job that in a terrible location, NYC, Detroit, Chicago come to my mind. I graduated from college in 1973. Jobs were scarce. I took the best job I was offered in a not so good place for hunting. I was not bowhunting yet, but I hunted a lot, with firearms. I got into bowhunting in 1978. Over many years I was transferred by that company numerous times. I lived in good and not so good places. But I always managed to find places to hunt or I took an out of state trip to hunt. Then I retired at age 61, with plenty money. Have been to Africa three times, Alaska four times and many more trips planned. I made my job the most important thing, besides my family. Then I focused on bowhunting and where I would live. Good luck and congrats on your engineering degree.
A lot of good advice here. If you dont go now you might never go as your wife and kids might not want to go when you are ready. But, if you have a tight family and good friends there is nothing wrong with staying close to home. Lost my dad last August and couldn't imagine having moved to Wyoming and missing any time hunting and fishing with him in Illinois. I would have loved to have lived out west but not as much as I loved the time spent with family and friends. Hunting isn't everything.
My advice.......DO NOT MOVE to Illinois. Travel here to hunt by all means. But no way do you want to buy a home here unless you want to make the worst investment of your life. This state is on the verge of financial collapse and it's getting worse as the Democrats who got us into this mess in the first place now control the entire state government. Our Bbb credit is one level away from a junk bond and we're the ONLY state rated this low. Moving .....and STAYING....here was the worst financial decision of my life.
fastflight: Excellent Point for sure. Seeing my son get to hunt with my father and me was surely a blessing. Sorry you recently lost your Dad but you’ll always have his spirit and your memories! C
First thing is your student loans going to be paid off? Secondly, like stated find a good paying job. At your age and if you have good health, I would suggest at looking into becoming a commercial pilot. Look at what Frank Noska has accomplished as bowhunter. You'll make tons of money and have plenty of time to hunt. Last thing don't jump into marriage right away. Invest and get your house paid for. Enjoy life and make good decision and you'll be fine!
Let t of good and different advice here. I like Charlie Rehor and fastflight the best. But nothing wrong with the other approaches. Personally I always thought central Missouri would be a good place. Whitetails turkeys, get a small farm, can drive to Colorado to elk hunt in 18 hours max, lot of great hunting in neighbor states, plenty of jobs. Best wishes to you in your future. Greg
Stay debt free and live your dream of going west.....and listen to the song “ He went to Paris” by Jimmy Buffett for inspiration! Good luck, love the adventure!
I just retired from Lockheed Martin as a mechanical engineer (aerospace) after 37 years. My advice: Don't work for Lockheed Martin, and be wary of any defense contractor. It's all about $$$ and work their people to death. PM me if you need any more info.
I've bowhunted 15 States & lived in six. My favorite state to bowhunt Deer is Wisconsin & I lived there a year and a half (hunted hundreds of times as a non resident). I lived in Colorado & loved it but came back to my home state of Illinois. Now, married to an Iowa girl (21 years) I live in Iowa & my step daughters husband has 400 acre farm + I'm retired now. 1-Pick the job YOU will be happy with 2-Pick the state while single YOU want & 3, if you marry, make it a gal from the state your happiest with. She will not (most anyway) want to be far from "her Mom". A good paying job will give you access to ALL those other places you want to hunt.. Good Luck. Getting old is not always a guarantee in life.
Keep your options open. Career's based on college degrees can be rewarding. But, this country is begging for tradesmen, handymen, people filling a niche, and people who work somewhere besides a degree related field.
I spent today working with a life long friend that has become the maintenance man, handyman, snow plowing man, and grass cutting guy for a living. This morning from 4 am until 10, we pushed snow and salted businesses, neighborhoods, and driveways. From there, we changed a toilet out, installed 3 refrigerators, changed two light fixtures, and fixed an industrial roof drain. All material cost were covered by the owners for the maintenance work. Yet, he was paid over $3000 today to do that. He wasn't nearly as ecstatic as I thought he should have been considering that take. He responded that he simply was breezing by until grass season because that is when he makes his real money. Are you kidding me???!!!!!!!!!
I graduated from WVU with a Forestry Resource Management degree. I have made a living. Sometimes well paid and, sometimes just getting paid. Depending on the job. For myself and for employers. I am very good at what I do and, have 5 job offers right now for money most would consider decent pay. Problem is the work load is about 80 hours a week. This is just living when you consider the time needed to complete the work that a industry forester puts in. I understand that mechanical engineers make better money then forester's on average. But, they make no where near $3000 plus a day. And, will work for a salary. Which means they will work far more then 40 hours/week.
You can be your own boss, control your own destiny, and can be earning that $3000 plus a day. Or, you can work for someone making $400-$500 a day being a mechanical engineer. Do the math on which is best. And, before you get confused, that same friend I helped today was teaching school three years ago. It didn't take him long to get to where he is at. And, he owes for NOTHING but his work truck and 2 pieces of small equipment.
I realize you are about to graduate and start your life. If you take anything from this, just understand options and, the freedom to live life to its fullest requires that you evaluate your life and decide what is important. That will decide what you do and, where you will do it from. And, don't be afraid to take a leap or, feel obligated to be working in a field you just spent 4 years proving you are qualified enough to join. Do what gives you the most options to be happy. Good luck and God Bless
35 yrs. prior human resources experience here-
You went to college to get an education for one reason- to obtain good employment- not hunting. Focus on solid employment with good benefits and the rest will take care of itself. Select a work location that will offer you a good quality of life, services and recreational opportunities. You work to live, not to hunt.
I do agree with others a good, supportive mate is essential to an enjoyable, fulfilling life.
When I graduated with my engineering degree in Pittsburgh, I too dreamed of heading west. Instead I stayed for a good starting job, earned my masters degree, and waited for my soon-to-be wife to graduate. Figured in a few years, we'd move west. Started a family, put down roots, and when I finally got that offer for a dream engineering job in CO, for a company that had great projects all over the west, it was too late. Wife said no (she also knew that once there, she wouldn't see me for most of the fall and winter). She's a keeper, so instead I had to "settle" for several weeks out west most falls.
Work where you want to live...and hunt....and fish....and hike.... get my point?
Life goes by too quickly, especially if you throw in a marriage & kids, throw a lot of your “plans” out the window.
Yah sure a lot of guys gave good advice about “marriage”, but I think cnelk gave better advice, why does everyone feel to have a fulfilling liFe you have to get married and have kids???
DO WHAT YOU LOVE & Live where you love the outdoors and be happy man!!
Move sooner rather than later. Otherwise you’ll find yourself at 48 giving advice on the internet wishing you’d done the same twenty years ago. Exciting time for you. Best of luck.
I took the above advice of “ go west while you can”. It has worked well for me. Think in abundance. Not scarcity. It is not necessarily “ where the jobs are” that matters. You can create your own life. AND you only get one shot at this life. Might as well go big. Mindset and is by far the biggest factor in accomplishing your goals.
Prioritize God. Often, it will be just you and Him in life's foxholes. And while it takes conscious effort, a good relationship with God will have you whistling your way through the drudgery that so envelopes those who do not.
Marry well. A good marriage is a mechanism of deliverance. A bad marriage one of ruination. You know the old adage, "You can't outwork a bad diet." Well, the same applies to a poor choice in life partner. You two can have everything and absolutely wreck it for each other. A corollary: commitment is required but so is an equal measure of grace. Without grace, your commitment will be nothing more than shackles digging into festering flesh.
Move west now, not later. With an engineering degree, take a job with a large public utility or government - anything that allows you to accrue vacation to the highest extent you can. Middle class affluence does no good for the bowhunter who can't leave his desk, etc.
Wow! There are a lot of engineers here on BS. I'm another ME who says "Go West, Young Man". Since you're from WV you're familiar with industrial type of ME positions. The Western states are full of industrial positions that need MEs. As was mentioned above many of the companies out west have multiple offices so moving around would be easy.
I've since moved from ME into Fire Protection Engineering (FPE). The demand for FPEs seems to be increasing with very few qualified candidates. If you want to set yourself apart from other MEs try to work toward fire protection. You'll be glad you did.
Lastly, Bowfisher once you get to chase a couple of other big game animals like elk I suspect that your whitetail fever will subside. Besides, there are big whitetails in the Western states but you don't hear about them much because most hunters are busy getting after other animals.
This thread is definitely an example of the old saying “save the best for last”. Great response from the last two.
What ever you decide to do start applying for LE tags now. Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, etc. Don't wait suck it up and start building points.
A lot of good advice here. I can tell you this, it seems like yesterday when I moved out west. It was April 8th, 1998. I’ve lived in Utah, Ohio, Colorado, California and now Kansas. I have a government job which has good pay and great benefits. I can hunt in both Oklahoma and Kansas and get to hunt with my father almost every weekend. We also go out west for a couple weeks every year. I do miss living in the mountains, but life is about trade offs. Kansas is cheap and I can save up and do some great hunts every year, while being close to family. Some of the areas I have lived it was hard to make ends meet.
- Find a good job and pay your dues. If you are good at what you do, you can anywhere. If you suck at your job you no one will hire you. A good job is must if you want to travel and have money for hunts
-Debt will sucks the life out of you. If you get a credit card make them set a low limit on it. Drive good used vehicles. Small investments in your 20s will be huge in your 60s, so start investing.
-If you marry: Marry someone after they have been through a few hunting seasons with you. My wife's birthday is mid September. I haven’t been home for it in years. That would drive some women crazy. My wife does not care.
-Living our west is great, but I can be to Colorado in 4 hours. There are somethings I miss and somethings I don’t. If you are going to do something bold do it now. Uprooting a family and moving across the country is hard, I’ve done it. Maybe you will live the rest of your days in the mountains. Maybe you will return close to home like I did. Either way you will figure out what is important to YOU in life. Whatever it is, embrace it
- Also, write down your priorities. I wish I had done this. Life changes you, usually for the good. I wish I could remember what 20 year old me was thinking about.
Go do something and keep us posted!
Start saving & investing for retirement... compound interest is astounding.
Don't get married. If you do, take the advice given above and marry well. If you don't, you may have to start over with only half of your savings and work years longer. Don't ask how I know this.
Follow your dreams.
I haven't read all the replies, but here's advice after 33 years as a software engineer. Balance you career and dreams, by that I mean following dreams is important, but you need to live in a place where there is a good choice of jobs. You WILL change companies, probably multiple times in your career. If you move to a location where the company choices are slim, then you are stuck if you don't like the job.
Don't be afraid of an hour commute! That can get you living in a "dream" place, but near enough to a city to work multiple jobs/options.
Someone mentioned wife. that choice overtakes all others, that's the one steady, consistent thing in your life if you choose wisely!
Other things: day 1 get into the 401K and max it out, or at a MINIMUM max out what they match. That's just free money. Do this right away and it won't be like you are giving anything up to invest.
Every raise or bonus, earmark a portion for debt, a portion for savings and a portion for "fun".
Take a hard look at western states application processes and evaluate whether it is worth it.
As someone who has been playing those games for over 20 years in multiple states and still may never draw many of those species, not sure that’s the way to go. The costs keep going up and it’s getting absolutely ridiculous.
Lots of good high paying jobs for engineers in Alaska, BC, Alberta, the Yukon, etc where you can get cheap tags for many fabulous species over the counter as a resident every year. As a nonresident, you will be trying to save up for one of those hunts and never get to go because life gets in the way.
You can hunt whitetails when you are old and fat! Hell, all you have to do is sit in a tree or blind and wait for one to walk by!
Do as much mountain hunting as you can when you’re young!
So much good advice has already been given, so I'll try to throw in my $0.02 in a different area: (1) Once you get a job, realize that the only reason someone hired you is so you can make their life easier and/or make them money. They didn't hire you because they felt sorry for you, had a bunch of money they didn't know what to do with, or whatever. As long as they know that you'll benefit them, you'll always have a job with them (or you'll be able to find a better one). (2) Always be honest. Once you blow your reputation in that arena, you'll never get it back. Your reputation and ethics are everything. It may not pay off right away, but at some point in your career someone's going to try to take you down, and at that point it'll come down to whose story is the boss going to believe. In my case, it happened after 20 years. The powers-that-be basically said, "BTM's been here two decades, has never BS'd us, has always worked hard and been honest, so we're going to believe him instead of Johnny-come-lately backstabber." Lecture over.
Five years ago I retired to WY after 35 years as a civil engineer, and I love it here. Good luck on your life and career!
Good stuff.Particularly about the right spouse.I'll add:
Buy land.Wherever you go,whether an xtra 'fix m up' in Detroit or a 40 on the prairie.Improve it whether a rental unit,planting trees on the 40,whatever.It will not let u down long term.Explore and use Govt programs to improve it.And let the tax code be your friend,not enemy.Whether 'interest' deductions or the use of section 1031 you can use the code as a way to wealth while living where u want. Some of the best advice I ever received was from a law professor who referenced the points above and said 'buy the Empire State building or a ranch out west if you can get terms'.Seems scary,at least at first,but so true.
Bowfisher.... tons of good advice here. I'm only 28, so not too far "ahead" of you, but I feel I can offer some food for thought.
When I started as a design engineer for a bow manufacturer, I was living my dream career, except for one not- so minor detail. I was severely underpaid. Fortunately during my first few months of employment a coworker introduced me to Dave Ramsey. I eventually took Daves FPU class at a local church, it was a game changer for me. I had student loan debt looming over my head, standing between my hunting/lifestyle centric dreams..... I realized for me, my first priority was to become debt free ASAP, then chase those life dreams. I worked 2 sometimes 3 jobs, and slammed my student loans. Where I went wrong (according to DR's principles) is that I invested in my 401K during that time, and foolishly bought an expensive truck. Please please please do not make that mistake.
All of this said, I don't know your financial situation, but I would almost base a job decision around financial freedom before I worried about any of the rest (hunting, marriage, kids). Moving could be part of that job equation.
The borrower is slaved to the lender my friend..... and there's no better feeling than being debt free in your 20's with a significant savings, retirement accounts established, and the world at your finger tips. Engineering will get you there in a hurry, and changing jobs will even faster when you can negotiate pay and vacation in your favor!! You have some decisions to make now, but life becomes a whole lot easier when you're financially free to chose the life you dream of. My .02
I'd head west now if I were you (I'm 29), but wife/kid and well established in WI, once those things come picking everything up becomes much more difficult. With the engineering degree you'll have have options with salary, benefits, etc. I love living in WI, I get 5.5 weeks of PTO/year and a healthy salary and I do a western hunt every year. I wouldn't have done anything different as I have a healthy 6 m/o baby and a wife that is on the exact same page as me in life as well as finances. Others above have it nailed, find the right one and everything else will fall into place. If that happens to be out west since you moved there right away, so be it.
SaddleReaper buying the truck may have been a mistake, but investing in your 401k was not (especially with a company match, no matter what Davey says, a 100% or 50% return on investment is a better investment than paying extra on your low interest truck payment on every advanced metric on the planet). Dave Ramsey is great for people struggling with debt and wanting a start getting a hold of their finances, but I absolutely detest his investing advice as well as the way he treats anyone who holds a different opinion than him on finances. But that is a whole different rant for a different website and a different day.
Grossklw - Yes I should have clarified I was referring to the truck purchase. I agree on investing in retirement early as time makes a huge difference! If there was one thing I'd argue Dave on that would be it...
"(2) Always be honest. Once you blow your reputation in that arena, you'll never get it back. Your reputation and ethics are everything."
I laughed out loud on that being posted on a site where most STILL support Trump.
Ziek, I have too agree with you there
Well, Ziek just took this thread off the tracks. I'll try to get it back.
Treeline's advice above was fantastic. When you're in your 20's is the best time to move around. Alaska and maybe BC would be amazing with the over the counter tags that aren't available anywhere else in North America. He's got a solid point there. Most of us will spend hundreds/thousands per year and try for decades to draw a moose/mountain goat/bighorn sheep tag while residents of Alaska and BC can buy them easily and go hunting. I don't have any idea if an American citizen can become a resident of BC and then come back later, but I'm sure somebody knows.
There isn't 1 in 100 of us that will ever get to hunt sheep. You could be that guy. And, you could do it every year on a budget.
Get a job in the oil industry. My wife (Chem E) graduated 10 years after me (CE) and she surpassed my 10 years of experience salary-wise within a couple years. Now, 10+ years later she makes double my salary. Plus, it is very versatile. Sure, they all want you to go to Houston (for example), but if you are a good employee they won't want to lose you and if you tell them you won't go--they will never make you. It is my biggest career regret that I didn't switch as soon as we were married. She has potential opportunities popping up all over the world--all the time, without even looking. Luckily, she loves Alaska as much as I do. Like Tavis said--get one of those rotational jobs. Hard to beat working 20 weeks a year for 52 weeks of pay. And, I am also one of those "marry well" guys. If you are born poor--it is bad luck; if you marry poor than you are just F^&*ing STUPID!
This is easy. Don’t overthink it. Move to Iowa now. Live where there are big Whitetails and you can hunt there every year and travel to hunt other species. I agree that picking the right woman is important and I have a great wife, wonderful actually, been with her for almost 30 years now. But I’m still miserable about having been stuck on the east coast my whole life. If Whitetails are your passion, move to Iowa and do it now.
Not trying to derail the discussion. Just a quick aside. ;-)
I disagree about debt. It's not necessarily bad. Being able to manage it though, is critical. Buying a house is almost always better than renting. Buying new vehicle and keeping it past the payoff date can be cheaper and more reliable than buying a used wreck. We put almost everything on credit cards, but we've never paid a dime in interest. Borrowing can be good if the interest rate is less than the rate of return on your investments. Bottom line; pay yourself first - that is, put a percentage into retirement, and emergency savings, then don't buy or commit to anything you can't pay for every month.
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Handle should be Bowphisher?
If you read this, PM me My good friend and hunting partner is the President of an engineering firm that has offices all about Wyoming.
Move to South Dakota. No income tax, good hunting, and closer to the other states further west you want to hunt. But, as others said, do it after school while you have nothing holding you back.
Wow guys this thread exploded much more than I ever expected!!
So amazing insight here, thank you for that. I do intend on moving west, my issue as of right now is job availability! There are many many more jobs here along the east as far as I can find, and I’m having trouble acquiring one here as is.
To address some of the comments thus far: I’m definitely keeping my options open as far as a career. I’ve worked in mechanical and civil environments and have enjoyed both. And as far as the whitetails, I love them, BUT have not hunted western big game yet so that may change..
It’s very tough to find a job on the other side of the country.
Easier to be there.
And remember, just because you have a degree in engineering doesn't mean you have to be an engineer only...
I finally figures out why Ziek is always so dang miserable.
I'm only 31 and got "tied down"to the area I live essentially a year or two out of University. It can happen fast. If the right girl comes along you don't get to pick when that happens. If you're in the wrong spot you're in the wrong spot. If you are free to go where you want to now...I can't see why you would wait. Getting yourself "set up"to leave will most likely result in you never leaving.
I was offered a job in Colorado 40 years ago and actually turned it down 3 times but took the fourth offer, after talking to my father. He told me that he did not want to see me go but that he knew I would love Colorado and if I got out there and did not like it I could always come back and do what I was doing before leaving. With that I rented a trailer that day and started packing.
Great thread with good posts, but I'm going to add something different. Go where God wants you to go. I'm not trying to get all churchy or anything but I honestly believe that God cares about the major (and minor) decisions in our lives and can make a lot more out of our lives than we can on our own. I've tried my best to follow this advice and it has always taken me good places--not where I would have expected but good places. Heck, I grew up out West, went to school out West, married an amazing woman from out West, and (GASP!) moved to the Midwest where we've lived for the past 13+ years far from family and the life we thought we were going to live. Do I miss the West? Absolutely. I head West to hunt and visit every chance I get. But, there is a lot more to life than hunting (DOUBLE GASP) and we've been incredibly blessed. Everybody's got to write their own story but I can promise that doing it with God is way better than doing it on your own.
" If the right girl comes along you don't get to pick..."
If it's the right girl, you should be able to agree on where to live.
Simplify things, break it down, prioritize and analyze the short and long term benefit to “risk”/“cost” ratio of a given decision. Right now, it sounds like you have choices. The more choices you have throughout life, the more enjoyable life will be. Keep life simple and flexible. IE....If hunting is priority 1.
Get a good paying job with some flexibility of schedule and where you want to live. Don’t get bogged down with a dependent/needy wife. Find someone who is financially independent, meaning she can support herself. It’s a partnership after all. Having children is another pivotal decision, be smart here. At an average cost of 250k from birth-18yrs, your priorities will have to change to support the kiddos. Perform the same benefit /risk analysis for all major decisions and determine how they will affect your priorities. Making well informed decisions for the pivotal moments in life is essential if you want to live life to YOUR expectation/ideal.
If you don’t move now you run the risk of marrying someone who has no interest in moving away from family and friends.
"Having children is another pivotal decision, be smart here...."
Wow! That's the first time I've ever seen an intelligent statement about having kids. Usually getting married and having kids are expressed as one single thought. As if they have to be tied together.
Move to Iowa, bow hunt the rut without the gun season and you can always go west on a hunt without the high cost of housing and living. As far as the ladies, they are like any other place, just have to be very very selective who you want or if you want to marry. Been married for 37 yrs to a Iowegian gal and no regrets, just unbelievable how she put up with my hunting time all these years, she realize that was an inherit trait that wasn't going to change. Lived in Ia., Ak.,Ok., Tn., Az., Wi, and Mn., just enjoy the journey and don't let the jerks ruin your day. Life is short and getting shorter.
Guess I am in minority as well. Working as engineer now 18 years, have a good job no complaints. I do wish I started hunting out west earlier, but at same time so glad that I hunted white tails with my dad and uncle for as long as they would hunt. Wasnt planned that way, but like others, dad taught me everything and I now really appreciate those last few years or so when he could get out. It's great getting a call he shot at something, but much better walking up and helping out and sharing the experience. Those days go by fast as well. I can hunt anyplace I want these days, and have good friends to share that with, but do need to plan ahead. When i do, it's all focus on hunting and great.
Best advice I have, no matter what you decide is to do the hunt of a lifetime every year. I saw that on bowsite, cant recall who shared it but sounds like a Charlie quote Maybe its archery elk this year, spot and stalk mule deer next year, save up for a goat hunt, go newfoundland moose after that, and taking dad or grandpa fishing year after that. Dont wait to be retired to start anything, start whatever it is now, no matter where you live.
Lots of good advice here and l like your present mindset. My sons and l have faced similar choices over the years and one son is the Chief Supervising Engineer for a large transportation agency. I happen to be retired from Traffic / Civil engineering work specializing mostly in traffic signals. My other son took a different route and we have seen both camps work out especially with regard to our avid bowhunting desires. If you care to get more free advice (remember you usually get what you pay for) you can pm me your phone number and I will call you. Best of luck to you and you really seem like you have it together and congratulations on your achievement. ..........Bob
There are multiply ways to skin that cat. You can live where you hunt or live where you can maximize your financial opportunities. I am 4th generation Californian and chose to stay/work where the money is. I work with companies that are changing the world which is very rewarding, and my discretionary dollars go a long way when I leave the state.
Lots of great advice. What do you choose?
Moved to Montana when I was 22 to finish my degree in Fish and Wildlife Mgt. I then worked outdoors a lot, on the rivers doing fish research. I made do, not getting rich financially, but rich with outdoor experiences. I did a lot of field work, and acclimated to any weather - mostly cold. I made hunting and fishing a way of life when not working, but I stayed single well into my 40s. Eventually I worked my way up into a upper level Govt. job after many years of pure enjoyment outside doing field work. This would not work for everyone, but I enjoy hard physical work, and doing it outdoors. Just go with your gut whatever you do, but do it where you want to live, and get established into a home and career, and get married earlier than 40, have kids, and teach them to do the outdoor stuff you love. Don't balk and think....someday I'll move west. Just do it now no matter how tough it is financially. You will get through if you really put your mind to it.
I’ll throw out an update. I took a job close to where I grew up. I may not be out west, but I landed a job close to family with great pay, great benefits, and very generous time off. I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten the job I did as a mechanical engineer.
There you go - now you can make money, have time off to hunt and/or take the family on a vacation, once you create one! All the best to you! But do - travel west on vacation once you get established, and see what it's got to offer recreationally. You won't be sorry you visited!
Never let money take the place of a possible memory. Go out and have adventures no matter how much or little is in your bank account. Good luck.
"but I feel that getting my feet planted, having a good job, and having the ability to spend my time off on trips is the best plan of attack for me as of now"
I'm 50. Don't wait, seize your dreams RIGHT NOW. Move to Alaska is my advice because there, as a resident, you will experience hunting/fishing you will have a hard time affording in the future. you can also gain experience - if nothing else, get a job with Alaska Dept of Transportation etc
As for marriage I can tell you this - do for yourself right now while you can
I moved to Alaska right at 20 years ago. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot think of living anywhere else, after getting involved in all of the hunting, fishing, and overall outdoor opportunities here. There is not a place on the planet with the outdoor opportunities and freedoms we have here in Alaska. It is truly the Last Frontier.
Jobs will come and go as well companies with the turn of the market. Find a place you want to be with hunting near by. There is tons of public land here in OK, and not too far to drive to New Mexico or Colorado, or hit the beaches in Florida. I have dozens of places for waterfowl hunting on public land within 45 minutes, and many of the places would make for great deer or turkey hunting. I can drive 2 to 3 hours south and bear hunt. I can even elk hunt on the family farm in Western OK. I don't have to worry about tags with a lifetime hunting license which makes a one day muzzleloader hunt nice when I have time between everything else going on with kids and family.
Be very picky with who you marry. Don't be affraid to dump them on the first red flag. Most aren't that special, and plenty of them. I have been married 18 years, and knew she was a keeper when she proceeded to clean the ducks when I took her waterfowl hunting when we were dating. She will be doing a solo elk hunt this winter. Our kids both hunt, and daughter (16) opened up the year breaking ice and taking mallards, qualified for NYC in ballet, running cross country this fall, and will be doing a solo archery controlled hunt on a perserve with the wildlife department.
There are lots of opportunities to take advantage of if you get out from the coasts, and keep an open mind.
P.S. To add to the above, once you start a family, being close to the grandparents if they are decent, is also a great advantage. They can watch the kids while you go out west for a hunt, or help out when they are sick. It is also nice for them to help out in getting the kids out hunting. There are positives and negatives to everything.
I am not an engineer, and don't play one on TV. The best advice I can give you if your squeeze says she is on birth control don't take any chances wrap that puppy. Both stepsons got trapped into marriage by her birth control that didn't work. Both are wishing they had taken precautions.
I agree with Charlie Rehor
You’ve gotten lots of good advice, but the most important was Charlie’s. If you can marry well close to the West, you’re in a good position to live a great life. You could live in ND, SD, Nebraska, Kansas, etc. and still be within striking distance of all kinds of great hunting. Good luck !
PS: I married while working in ND 37 years ago. We’ve lived in Texas for 36 years and I’ve never missed a hunt because of my wife. Marry the right one and you’re good to go !