When you have nothing, you want everything. Girls at school had pretty clothes, a lot of them. And shoes. All new and never worn by anyone else. Some even had a car, their own bedroom, and a weekly allowance. I had a job.
I also had mentors. A couple teachers who pushed me. A counselor who looked at my scores and sent me through a door I had not considered to a degree I’d never heard of. What does an engineer even do, and why are they so well paid?
An engineer solves problems. Differently named engineers solve problems in areas like construction or aeronautics or biomedicine or electronics or mechanics or computer science or chemistry.
They are so well paid because their work is so vital and so few can survive the four-year degree–one which is not handed out like candy. Earning that degree proves their worth. Supply and demand are tipped in their favor.
Of course, their jobs require them to work 60 or more hours each week for 40 or more years for their salaries. They work in groups, under deadlines, to fix problems and to back up sales teams who make impossible promises without comprehension, or to stop a bridge from collapsing, or to verify the physics of a future structure, or to regenerate nerves, or to test new medicines, or something else to make life easier on the rest of us. They enjoy the challenge and the like-minded teams of problem solvers. They share credit, learn from mistakes, and shoulder blame. The world rides on their ideas.
Start from your current position and chart a course to what you need. Do you want to teach, create, invest, build, help, lead, share, bake, farm, distribute, coordinate, repair, nurture, and improve the world? Don’t wait for the government to solve your problems with money collected from taxes taken from other workers or you may very well spend your whole life waiting and complaining and end up in that exact same position, pointing your angry finger, after 40 years.