I got the following question at this site’s forum recently:
I am engineering graduate and i don’t want to study technical anymore.I’m interested in Art and i want to change my area of specialization but have no idea how to do so whatsoever.Please help!
When I received this question, I realized I had heard this question before. Other people had posted questions similar to this before at my site. Heck, there was a point in my engineering studies when I felt the same too. I realized after reading this recent iteration of the question that I must dedicate a separate post to answer this question.
Here I will jot down a few of my thoughts as a response to this question. Hope it helps anyone who feels this way in the future.
You are not alone
My first response to the people who feel this way is to say — you are not alone. Other people have also felt the same way before. To those currently in such a situation, my message is that you will get through it. Here, I will relate the experiences of people who faced similar predicaments in the past — hope that this will serve as inspiration or a source of ideas for others.
Studying engineering sucks
Engineering is taught in a most boring fashion in India. There is so much reliance on memorizing stuff and understanding theory. Some students are good at this and fare well in exams. Other people do not do as well and feel demoralized. I faced a similar situation during my undergrad years. And this led me to believe that engineering was a boring subject, and that I should try switching fields. Around this time, I was fortunate to find some Professors whose teaching style was more suitable to me. And for my B. Tech. final year project, I got the opportunity to work on a very interesting real-world application of engineering. Suddenly I found out that engineering was not always boring. Engineering, like any other subject, was what you make of it.
The primary message I want to convey — every subject or area has boring and exciting parts. You have to find the parts that excite you.
Engineering is better than Art
Engineering is better at making you eligible for a decent salary than art. This is different from saying that “engineering is better than art”… which is what I said in the heading of this section, but I was just trying to draw your attention there :P. Well try to understand this carefully. This is not me being judgemental and declaring one subject better than another. I am just pointing out the cold hard truth — the economics. On an average, an engineer will earn more than an artist. And a banker will earn more than an engineer. And a consultant will earn more than a banker. I am not sure of the last part about who beats whom — but the point is that some careers are more employable than others. When comparing engineering and art, I always go back to the wonderful story outlined by Arnab Ray in his TEDx talk. You can read my commentary on the talk here or watch the full talk here.
The crux is this — you can be an average engineer and still earn decently. But you will have a terrible life if you are an average artist.
Your interest for art will never leave you
So far, I have tried to convince you that engineering may not be that bad, and that engineering has some economic advantages over art. That said, I should now let you know that you will never lose this interest of art that you possess. That is why it will be futile to pursue a career that only satisfies an engineer’s interests. You will never love those jobs. What you need to find is a career that marries your interest for art and engineering. Do such jobs exist? You bet they do. The world of engineering is vast and there are so many different jobs out there. You just need to find the one that interests you. A job combining engineering and art that comes to mind immediately — UI creation for iOS apps. Another place I have always looked at for ideas about cool engineering jobs is IEEE Spectrum’s annual special on Dream Jobs (here are the lists for 2013 and 2014).
Even with all I said so far, I acknowledge that you might still feel totally averse to engineering. If you feel so strongly about this, jump ship at your first chance. Doing an MBA seems to be a safe route out of engineering for many people. There are many other examples of more unconventional exit strategies on my site (for example, see the profiles section).
That’s all for now. Hope this helps!