Here is an edited (to preserve identity) email that I received today:
I recently read your blog article, “Should I Become a Mining Engineer” and I have a couple questions if you wouldn’t mind answering them!
I’m twenty-three years old, and a soon-to-be Canadian university graduate in fine art. My father is in mining and so my summers throughout this degree were spent working at various mines. I have thoroughly enjoyed every position, from warehousing, to mill operations, to maintenance. Now that I’m finishing my current degree, I’m recognizing the limited job opportunities for B.A. graduates and considering doing a second degree. I have been accepted to law school, but am leaning more towards engineering at this point due to concerns with lifestyle and stress at work.
I applied to the engineering program and was accepted. But I do have a few concerns I was hoping you could help me with.
My first concern is that I’ll be 27 when I graduate from mining eng. I’m wondering if this too old to be entering the industry. Forgive me for calling 27 ‘old’, but in relation to many other new graduates of engineering who are 21 and 22 it kind of is. Do you think this would be a disadvantage?
Second, do you see the demand for mining engineers as increasing or decreasing? I understand they are in high demand now, but I’m concerned that in four years when I graduate that will no longer be the case.
I have both an engineering and law degree. I have work primarily as a civil engineer for mines. I have consulted to lawyers on many occasions.
My advice is to forget the law degree and go mining—or at least engineering.
The study of law is fun—a constant story of human folly. But there are already too many lawyers around and most of the actual work is terribly dull and vicious. At the end of the day lawyers, on average, earn less than engineers.
Law studies have helped me understand human nature and actions. And I have been able to turn this to my professional advantage. But I am glad I chose not to be a lawyer and instead choose to be an engineering in mining.
Now 27 is so young that it is not an issue. You will be entering a profession where there are still many old farts, like me and your father. We will fade away soon enough. People like you and your age need to be there to pick up the reins. My eldest daughter is 40 and as a civil engineer is only now beginning to be good (under my guidance) as a consultant to mines. My youngest daughter is 33 and is just about to graduate as a civil engineer. She will do well, that I know. So you are very young by comparison.
If your father is important and powerful in mining, why not make use of that fact. With the right education, he can guide and support you. He can introduce you to the people who count. He can, and will I am sure, promote you in the industry. It helps to have fathers in the know and in the industry. Make use of your connections. You are extremely lucky and would be imprudent if you did not grasp your advantages.
Of course mining goes through cycles—up and down. So does law. There are no guarantees of a job. But knowledge, connections, experience, brains, and a good job done today, have , in my experience, always meant a good job tomorrow.