Beating The Odds – Even Engineers Struggle In This Job Market

By Shawn Dexter / March 15, 2017

Beating The Odds - Side Hustle?

Even engineering degrees don’t seem to cut it anymore.  How do you make sure you are beating the odds?  A recent article published by CBC claims that a stable job is no longer a viable option for most millennials. Instead, you need a ‘side hustle’. It’s sad, isn’t it? Working your ass off in a university or a full-time job will no longer guarantee you a stable future. In fact, it may very well be one of the worst routes toward stability.

This is one of the top voted comments for that article:

My generation (born in the 60s) spent our college years smoking pot and trying to get on with the opposite gender while listening to rock music and going to parties. I don’t think any of my friends did much work at college and none had STEM degrees.

We all ended up with good jobs and fulfilling careers and most of us got to own a home.

My son had a party recently at our house. I had to go downstairs and tell them to turn the music up. All they ever do is talk about grades and career opportunities. And they actually seem to study.

So, no, my personal experience does not suggest the millennials are the problem. Wide open labour markets are the problem in my mind”

Jake Shi 


It's a struggle...

It’s a struggle out there. The market can be difficult — but doesn’t have to be. This is the way I look at it: If you see the masses go right, then you should go left. I’ve said this over and over again. If everyone is going to engineering school, then engineers are in abundance and you’ll have to struggle to stand out. If everyone is doing their MBA, then MBA degrees are losing their “premium” status — don’t waste your time & money.

Beating The Odds : How I managed to do it...

I look back at my own journey and wonder how I managed to beat the odds. (Read : Beating The Odds:  How I went from Janitor to Six Figure Salary & MSc Degree as a highschool dropout)  This is what I realize:

1) When I entered the Math Major, I studied Software Engineering during my spare time.

2) When I entered the Computer Science/Software major, I studied Product Management & practiced my presentation during my spare time.

3) When I entered my MSc in Computer Science, I had started a web-company: during my spare time.

4) Finally, when I was contemplating doing my MBA — I read that it was the most “popular” degree. Popular means “saturated”. I instead decided to start

All of these little things added up. I had several failures, but even the failures increased my intrinsic market value. To increase your “value”, you need to do something that will make you unique. Look around you. What is everyone else doing? Are they ALL going home and trying to excel at programming? Are they all studying for their GMAT? You don’t want to compete with the masses. It’s much harder that way.  Do something different — it will pay dividends down the line. Complaining about it is so hard to find a job will only take us so far. We have to play the cards we're dealt — no matter how shitty the hand is. Beating the odds requires relentless determination.

You can get started on improving your intrinsic market value right away.  Check out our reading list​ and our list of 20 Free Online Courses  by the best professors around the world.   

About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn Dexter is a Product Manager, Entrepreneur & Software Developer. He is passionate about innovation management & technology.