The Case for Working With Your Hands

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22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
The dismantling of shop classes in all schools, public and private, along with our society's adamant pushing of kids into college, who have no business going to a traditional 4 year liberal arts type college (and that's not to say they are stupid - to the contrary, the smartest people I've met are people with true hands on mechanical ability), is one of the reasons I think we're in such a pickle as a society. Skilled labor jobs use to be viewed with such higher merit. Not today. An electrician or a mechanic takes a back seat to the all mighty mortgage broker or banker. I've said it before here - the stupidest thing I ever did was not follow my mechanical inclinations and pursue a technical trade. Instead, I miserably suffered through college getting an accounting degree. The main reason was because, well, my parents were both masters level educated, I did good in high school (and auto class!), and well, all the kids like me just went to college.
 
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11,448
Location
Illinois
I've turned my two college degrees into a technical trade. I do work with my hands AND a keyboard. So I bridge the gap, so to speak. I'm way over educated for what I do, degrees in software engineering and electrical engineering. But I like making things work. The story in that article reminded me of just this past Friday when I was working on an old (that's spelled 1997 in the computer biz) server, and had to consider many of the same things. Tearing into old stuff can often introduce more issues, so do you really want to go there. Just as the article mentioned, do you really want to take that cover off, knowing you might break more than you fix. I can sleep well at night. I know that something works or it doesn't work when I'm done with the job. If it doesn't work too many times, then I'm on the street. When I was in high school, I was just going to enlist, and get trained to be jet mechanic or some sort of thing. My mother talked me into going to college, and of course, I got into a top 25 university, so I'm not some sort of dummy. On Uncle Sam's dollar, with an ROTC scholarship and some jobs to pay the living expenses, I got two degrees. I had to pay for that extra semester to get the second degree, but it does attract the attention of those looking at my resume. But I really like making things work, and I've returned to that, while still using much of what I've learned in school years ago. If nothing else, I learned how to learn and apply knowledge quickly.
 
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11,448
Location
Illinois
PS, in highschool, I did BOTH. I was in college prep courses, not because I had any great desire to go to college, but because I was a straight A student, so it was "expected" of me. But I also took auto shop and electronics shop, because I liked doing those sorts of things. I sort of stood out, as I was the only one with Shakespeare, Calculus and Physics books in those classes. But it also taught me that we are all people. Just because I took different classes, that didn't make me a higher class person. So there WAS a valuable social lesson in learning to work with my hands.
 
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3,061
Location
Columbus, Ohio
There's some city in Michigan that raised enough money to send all their high school grads to college. To me, this sounds great but is really ridiculous. Not everyone should go, can go, wants to go to college. We need laborers, we need skilled tradesmen, and frankly, if everyone goes then it all really doesn't mean anything more than everyone going to high school does. What then, we all have to have master's degrees? Doctorates? Ridiculous. John
 
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2,695
Location
Easton, PA
I took plenty of shop classes in junior and senior high in the 80's; the problem I had w/ them was the curriculum hadn't changed since the 60's! there wasn't any electronic diagnostics in auto shop, there wasn't any CAD in drafting class, the metric system wasn't taught, no PLCs, etc, so HS shop class really couldn't prepare you for a real job. those classes wern't so much for learing something as it was to do something you already felt comfortable with (all the stoner kids took print shop and made zeppelin T-shirts all day). I didn't go to college, but I did go back to trade schoool 12 yrs after HS. it IS a great feeling being able to fix something or install something knowing that your job is necessary and cannot be outsourced. and, since so many people went to school and can't even COOK, much less install an outlet or a replacement window, there will always be plenty of work for people willing to get their hands dirty.
 
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24,412
Location
Central Florida
 Quote:
the stupidest thing I ever did was not follow my mechanical inclinations and pursue a technical trade. Instead, I miserably suffered through college getting an accounting degree
What career choice whould have have if you could go back in time ??? Many people are in the same boat.
 
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7,430
Location
beaver land EH?
Well, mind you though (personal observations): w/o a solid electrical/electronics background, you simply cannot fix an OBD-II systems these days, citing the ever-so-complicated systems (and now the Germans with their computer-controlled green-diesel engines?) I now spent most of my time in the IT field (health issues stopped me from pursuing Autotech career, esp. computer-controlled systems diagnostics and repair). That being said, however, I'm not upset about it for I still have my love for the systems overall. Q.
 
Messages
194
Location
Colorado springs CO, USA
Im glad I did go to trade school myself, I was a Junior at a 4 year state school with a history major but I loved working on cars and all things mechanical, I decided to go to trade school instead of my senior year and ended up becomming a sucessful ASE certified master tech making way more money than I would have as a history teacher, and I loved it, I have now moved up to service/parts managment to save my body from the wear and tear but It was definately one of the best choices for career I could have made, and It is a dying art, concidering the quality of techs I now have to interview, good electrical and critical thinking skills are few and far between today....
 

pbm

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8,744
Location
New York
One of the (many) problems with public schools today is that they are more tuned toward promoting 'self-esteem' rather than a genuine useful education. At least this seems to be the case in NYC.
 
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22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
 Originally Posted By: LT4 Vette
 Quote:
the stupidest thing I ever did was not follow my mechanical inclinations and pursue a technical trade. Instead, I miserably suffered through college getting an accounting degree
What career choice whould have have if you could go back in time ??? Many people are in the same boat.
I dunno. HVAC, plumbing, something like that. Maybe auto-mechanics. I still have this inclination to be a trucker, but that takes a good 5 years before you can get a decent job - something other then the big [censored] companies like Swift.
 
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47,525
Location
Duvall WA - Pacific NW USA
 Quote:
I once accidentally dropped a feeler gauge down into the crankcase of a Kawasaki Ninja that was practically brand new, while performing its first scheduled valve adjustment. I escaped a complete tear-down of the motor only through an operation that involved the use of a stethoscope, another pair of trusted hands and the sort of concentration we associate with a bomb squad. When finally I laid my fingers on that feeler gauge, I felt as if I had cheated death. I don’t remember ever feeling so alive as in the hours that followed
 

buster

Thread starter
Messages
33,936
Location
Southern NJ
Funny, he mentioned that exact situation this morning on the radio. He was on the Michael Smirconish show this morning.
 

buster

Thread starter
Messages
33,936
Location
Southern NJ
 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
 Originally Posted By: LT4 Vette
 Quote:
the stupidest thing I ever did was not follow my mechanical inclinations and pursue a technical trade. Instead, I miserably suffered through college getting an accounting degree
What career choice whould have have if you could go back in time ??? Many people are in the same boat.
I dunno. HVAC, plumbing, something like that. Maybe auto-mechanics. I still have this inclination to be a trucker, but that takes a good 5 years before you can get a decent job - something other then the big [censored] companies like Swift.
I'm def in the same boat. Went to Rutger's, graduated with a BA in Economics. Did well, received good grades and went right into the Financial Services industry. Was there 8 years and laid off in Dec. 08. Working side jobs right now for a small company. Doing hard work etc. I don't want to go back into that industry. I want something more exciting and hands-on. I want to move around and not be boxed into a cubicle all day. That is no way to live life.
 

Kestas

Staff member
Messages
13,820
Location
The Motor City
I too like working with my hands, but how many people would like to retire from such a job? Some of these jobs take a toll on the body. I don't know if I would last to 65 years of age wrenching on cars or fitting pipe.
 
Messages
39,806
Location
Pottstown, PA
It's a shame continuing education costs so much. I'd love to just keep learning at my slower than most everyone else's pace. It would make a great hobby. I could have 12X the insight on forming pointless points of view. One of the more revealing lessons that I've learned... Those who KNOW and CAN - DO Those who KNOW and CANNOT - manage, supervise, and teach/instruct. There needs to be enough of both to go around.
 
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35,965
Location
ME
One point not touched on by that article is the trap of a supposedly blue collar job on your resume. How could you transition back into being a cubicle creature after turning wrenches or pounding nails? My personal opinion on many Liberal Arts degrees and the desire to shuffle people into a lengthier education is that it's a scam to reduce the working years by 10%... from 18-65 to 22-65. This creates the illusion of less unemployment. The debt incurred is not a favor to the debtee just starting life and herds them into some drone force to pay the bills, and have health insurance.
 
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