Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Better Society Question

So, the other day I was at the Civil Engineering Career Fair here at Cal Poly. Yes, Civil Engineering had 39 companies to ourselves. They like us. Obviously, I was unsuccessful in my continual search for an internship this summer. Most people can't get past my average GPA or the fact that I have no previous experience in engineering. But I gotta ask, how do most people get their start? Oh, wait, they have to start somewhere? That's what I thought.

Anyway, I got to talking to a lady in the HR department of a particular transportation company of which I was interested. We were chatting it up, and there was no one behind me to give me the evil that I always get when I talk to reps about nothing but our personal lives. As we were talking, we got around to my resume, which is filled with people-oriented jobs and strengths. Not many engineer reps give a whaddly-doo about the fact that I was a camp counselor or am a RA. They tend to want to see numbers close to 4.0 or a company title with a couple of ambiguous last names followed by Eng. Corp. or something like that. HR folks are different. They like to hear about my first love, people. And in particular, kids.

This HR lady, Cathy, we will call her, wanted to hear all of my stories. When we got around to her 5, 7, and 9 year-old children, I sympathized with the busy life she must leave. Cathy ate this up. In fact, she ate it up so much that this is what she told me:
"Zach, I can't hire you as an engineer. In fact, I don't even think you are in the right major. What I would hire you for, is to be a teacher. You are in the wrong major; you should change to something that you could really teach with, because you would be an amazing teacher."

This really took me for a whirl. I thought to myself that she was crazy. I am at a top university getting a great degree with tons of hiring potential. When was the last time 39 schools showed up to hire education students right out of school? I would have no idea. But afterwards, I really go to thinking, less about whether I was really going to change my major, that isn't going to happen. What I really thought about what would be better?

Is it better to change the way society runs, which would be my ultimate goal as a transportation engineer? To bring about change in our environment, mentality, and use of resources as a society. Or is better to change the lives of a few that live within the society already created. All pride aside, I think I could do either. One as an engineering, one as a teacher.

So, help me out. Is it better to change lives on an individual basis or create a better society as a whole?

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