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At what point in your college career did you decide on which direction to take?

I am currently interested in enrolling in Electrical Engineering. However, there are so many different directions within this field, I'm not sure which one I should take. At what point in your college career did you figure it out? #electricalengineering #electrical-engineering #nuclear-power-plants #instrumentationandcontrolsengineer #college-decisions

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Nodira’s Answer

When I started law school, I wanted to be a prosecutor and work within the field of criminal law. I had been a volunteer for victim services and was passionate about the cause. BUT, during a study abroad in the summer after completing my first year of law school, I took a criminal law class and a tax law class. As time progressed, I realized that, though I was passionate about victim advocacy, I was bored during criminal law classes. And I could not wait to get to tax law classes and really enjoyed the assignments. That was my first clue that criminal law was not right for me. But I did not want to yet commit to tax law because I did not know whether I would be successful or what practicing tax law would be like in real life.

My first concern was addressed by my tax law professor, who told me that "I seemed to speak the tax law language." He recommended I try taking other tax law classes or try to find online material that did not take a lot of time but gave me an idea about different areas of tax law. Following his advice, I started reaching out to attorneys who practiced in various areas of tax law and simply asked them to meet me for coffee so I could learn about their experience.

Through that process, I was able to focus on the area of mergers and acquisitions and am now in the field - and I love it! I can appreciate that Electrical Engineering is not the same as law, so it might be a little harder to find people who can tell you, though not impossible. I included some suggestions of how you could proceed to help you in narrowing down your options within the field of Electrical Engineering.

I wish you all the best - good luck!

Nodira recommends the following next steps:

Find a mentor - it can be a friend, a relative, a teacher - anyone who you can trust and who will give you their honest feedback. Ask your mentor if he or she can help with identifying ways you can learn more about the different options and how you could create opportunities to try these options - i.e. job shadow for a day.
As you try the different options, pay attention to whether you think the option will keep you challenged (so you don't get bored) and which option you are excited about. Trust your gut - it will tell you what you like.

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Daniel’s Answer

Late, hah. I also started as Electrical Engineering in undergrad. After being most of the way through EE, I ended up also getting an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and pursuing that professionally. It took me 5 years to get out of undergrad - if I had known what I wanted to do going in I probably could have finished in 2.5-3 years. But, it's not the end of the world to spend a bit more time in undergrad figuring out what to do, so long as you can find work to support yourself while you're there.

As for what led me away from pure EE - despite being reasonably good at it, I found there were just a lot more and more varied employment prospects in the world of software. Most of the specializations in EE didn't interest me, besides embedded work (which can be quite frustrating) and computer architecture (which turned out to be ridiculously hard to find employment in). So instead I switched to software.

But hey, if you find a part of EE you really like that isn't too frustrating to you, and is actually feasible to find employment in, you can definitely stick with it. There's still a lot of jobs there :)

Take your time in undergrad to look at different upper level courses in EE or whatever, see what interests you. (Don't read too much in to the lower level courses, since they tend to be more foundational and not a good indication of what real work in that area would be like). For example I took some signals, power electronics, embedded, architecture, electric motors, and some other courses I don't even remember, just to get some variety.

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Alexis K.’s Answer

I was an undergraduate student, when I decided I wanted to teach, but it took me until now after I finished my Masters degree in Education to find the courage to actually work with students. So now I am volunteering online using my webcam and microphone through a non-profit online organization. So, it does take a while to make the field you are in more narrow and concentrate on one thing. I at first wanted journalism, but after doing research I did not find opportunities where I live, so I decided teaching was the next best thing. So I suggest, doing lots of research in electrical engineering in the categories it falls under, and the jobs it falls under, and figuring out what most appeals to you, then pursue that. Then get hands-on experience. God Bless,and I hope this helps you.

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Rich’s Answer

I completed my EE degree over 32 years ago, but your thinking is the same as it was for me. With all the areas of EE to find a job in (e.g. power, hw, sw, rf, ...) which one would I be happy in? I found the more higher level classes I took, the more I knew things I liked and did not like in the field . I also got involved in the co-op program where I worked some semesters and then went to school some semesters. Co-oping really helped me decide which things I liked in EE and not. It also exposed me to some real world jobs and technology (for example Token Bus - MAP protocol - which was used before CSMA-CD Ethernet in the manufacturing floor). If you can't co-op, try interning or volunteering your time at non-profits to get experience and exposure. I found I really loved the communications side of EE - rf, protocols, hw/sw, networking. After my undergrad in EE I got a job and went on to get a Masters in Systems Engineering - more generalized - which allowed me to take my EE knowledge and apply it on a broader scale. I've been an Enterprise Architect for over 10 years now - and use my broad knowledge of systems, ee, and communications - every day. Its been a great ride and career choice. Good Luck.

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Michael’s Answer

I also majored in electrical engineering, but did not really consider career applications. As one other responder said, classical EE does not necessarily offer a lot of varied career options. The best advice I can give is to try as best as you can to figure out what you really would like to do, and then determine the major that best suits it. Depending on what career you have, you will likely switch jobs multiple times, and after the first several years your work experience will be more important than your degree. Best of luck!

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Burak’s Answer

Hello Kellen,

I decided on which direction to take during my last year when I was a senior at college. And it was after completing my internship at Microsoft Turkey Marketing Department. It helped me to see and understand the real business environment which I wanted to be working in. As my major was Computer Engineering I realized that I should move to a role with more human interaction like, sales, marketing, project management, business development. And later on I started to take relevant trainings to enrich my skills & experience. I took trainings and certifications from my college, from private institutions and non-profit foundations etc. I also attended and lead student club activities to bolster my action plan. Which helped me to combine my technical background of computer engineering together with social skills I wanted to have.

Burak recommends the following next steps:

Find out what you like doing more by having internships at companies/roles you want to potentially work in the future
Look for certification programs and trainings to develop yourself outside of college
Take some personality tests to identify your strengths