I come from a family of engineers, but want a career in business. Is it okay to start small?

I’ve just completed my Bachelor’s in Engineering but I never wanted to pursue a career in it. I’ve always been interested in marketing and sales or management related jobs.

Since I come from a family of engineers it was naturally expected of me to take up engineering. No room for argument. Anyways now that I have completed my degree, I’ve embarked on the tough journey of finding non-engineering-related jobs for myself. After many attempts  I have finally landed one as a project management trainee in a small company. My parents are not very happy but I am tired of sitting at home, unemployed. I want to pursue an MBA at a prestigious college in the US but not immediately since I don’t have much experience.

My job is in the financial capital of my country and it is a place of immense opportunities. This job will open many doors for me since most of the fortune 500 companies and other stalwarts are based there. It seems like I know the answer to my dilemma but I need someone to tell me if it is wrong or right to start small.


The Harvard MBA Says:

While engineering is a wonderful profession (I highly recommend engineering majors to those who choose to attend college), the most important thing is to find a profession that fits with your strengths and passions.

It sounds like while engineering is in your blood, you really gravitate towards the world of business.  Given that fact, I think taking a job in business is exactly the right thing to do.  How are you supposed to know whether you’re correct in your choice in professions without experience?  If you went on and did your MBA without working first, you might find that you didn’t actually enjoy business, and would really have wasted quite a bit of time and effort.

If you want to make it easier on your family, you should point out that until you’ve tried your hand at business, you’ll always wonder, and you’ll end up being a half-hearted engineer.  Hold out the hope that if you discover you don’t like business, you’ll settle down and put that engineering degree to good use.

Right now, both you and your family are arguing about your future without any evidence.  Go work, gather the evidence, and it will make the argument easier and a correct decision more likely.


  1. Posted December 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    You never know what you want to do until you try it. Remember that your family is projecting their skills and motivations onto you, which is why it seems logical to them for you to become an engineer.

    Your engineering degree will give you a big leg up on your business colleagues because of your math skills. Most non-engineers do not have a good sense of math or numbers. They are often better at other things, and use those to succeed in business, but the ability to synthesize decisions quickly by putting together numerical facts and human nature will put you at an advantage. Beware though. It is also a disadvantage. Because you will be able to see quickly from numbers that a business idea does not make sense, you could offend your colleagues & superiors with your contrary ideas, especially if it makes them look bad.

    Hmm…maybe your parents have a point.

  2. Ano
    Posted December 30, 2010 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Stick with engineering. You will get to the business side of engineering in due time. I was in the same situation as you were more than 15 years ago. Needless to say, I wish I started out as an engineer.

  3. Nick
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I am in the same boat as you. I finished my engineering degree last year however it has never been my passion – I’m sure I am far better suited to the business side of things. I finished my studies at the end of last year and came up with a solution which gives me the best of both worlds: Start your own engineering company.

    Although most people think that you have to have experience under your belt and become a charted engineer to be of any use there are actually a heap of work arounds. I have joined with a friend/classmate who is far more interested in the engineering (and very bright) and we work on our company outside the hours of our normal jobs. I take care of the business management side and he gets stuck into the engineering side of things. We are only doing small scale jobs at the moment but so far so good!!

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