Do I look for work or stay at home with the kids?
March 22, 2011 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I graduated last year with a BSEE, but couldn't find a job. I stopped looking, but I'm thinking about starting again. What now?

I'm in my 30s, worked my way through school and graduated with a low gpa (< 3.0), but ~3.2 my last year. I had one interview for an engineering position and I bombed it horribly. I had some others, for technician positions, and all of those told me I was over-qualified. When I was turned down for a job at the CVS, I stopped looking.

Since then, we've had a new baby, and I'm staying home with him and our older son who is now in school. Money is tight, we're not making headway against credit card debts, and I don't feel I'm the best stay at home dad in the world. I'm also getting strong pressure from my family that I ought to be working instead of staying home.

The job market seems to be picking up, but I'm not sure whether to go back to work. My wife would prefer I stay home. She'd also like to have a few more kids. Going back to work would mean full time day care for the infant, and after-school care for the school aged kid. Between the cost of child care, gas for the commute, taxes, work clothes, etc, I don't know that I'd come out that much ahead on an entry level salary.

I told myself I should pick whichever would make me happier, but I can't make up my mind. The low gpa (and year since I studied) doesn't make me very confident I could be a good EE right now, and puts grad school I think out of the question. Maybe Teaching high school/middle school math or science is a possibility?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Can you do contracting jobs? That would allow you to watch the kids some of the time and be a SAHD part of the time, and keep your skills polished and the resume current.
posted by bq at 5:25 PM on March 22, 2011

Seconding bq on freelancing. A couple of years down the line, if you start looking for a job, having a few gigs on your resume is going to look infinitely better than a long gap. Look for telecommuting jobs or ones that don't need you to be at a desk all day long.

Also, this will pay part of the bills, keep you occupied for some time in the week and give you confidence.

Hang in there.
posted by theobserver at 5:30 PM on March 22, 2011

It depends on how much your wife makes. For many couples having a stay-at-home parent vs two working parents is a financial wash because of all the costs/savings you describe.

There is, ultimately, no right decision. it's simply a question of what you want to do. To be fair, if the genders were reversed most people would tell you to stay home and not worry so much. At least you have the small benefit of being in the position to take some time to make your decision.
posted by GuyZero at 5:36 PM on March 22, 2011

I don't know where you're located, but hiring for EE's is picking up in Silicon Valley. A lot of companies have held off hiring for the last two years and now there's some pressure to try and catch up. For example I've heard that Intel is hiring pretty hard right now.

The longer you leave that EE degree get dusty the less it will be worth. There are plenty of EE jobs that don't require ninja EE skills - mostly common sense, organization, great communications and hard work. For example, in semiconductors Product Engineers are typically EE's but they're really working a project management type role. Product Marketing Engineers have even less technical work. So my basic message here is that your GPA is only as much of a barrier as you make it. If you want to get some use out of your degree then you should keep up the job search until you're successful.

It's difficult these days to raise a family in a single salary. But if that's what you want to do then you should remember that you wouldn't be on an entry level salary forever, you should think what you'll be making 3~5 years down the road and base you plans on that.
posted by Long Way To Go at 6:08 PM on March 22, 2011

It sounds like your self-esteem is suffering and that:

I'm also getting strong pressure from my family that I ought to be working instead of staying home.

is not helping you in this regard. I take it you mean your parents and/or brothers and sisters b/c you said that your wife would prefer you stay home with the infant. Your parents and siblings need to mind their own business. You should shut down the pressure coming from them, tell them something like, "Thanks for the input. Wife and I are figuring it out and we will make the decision that works best for our family. No further input from you required."
posted by mlis at 9:36 PM on March 22, 2011

The job market is definitely picking up and if you want contracting work you can do from home, it is out there. Try talking to a recruiter. And there are other ways you could keep a hand in to buff your skills -- joining a local user group or hackspace, for example.

That's if you want it. As other commenters above say -- it sounds like there are some other issues going on, with the family pressure and the stress of being a new parent and so on. Good luck.
posted by brainwane at 4:09 AM on March 23, 2011

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