The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by | Aug 9, 2011 | 6 comments

The Ugly

I used to teach a lot of undergrad engineering courses. The students were usually so wrapped up in their courses and just getting to graduation that they never looked up to see where they were heading. So I started to tell them – in a lecture I called “Engineering Your Career.” But the wake-up came when I gave them the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – a title certainly borrowed from the Clint Eastwood film of the same name.

Here are some points I give them about how their life will be five years post-graduation. I call it “Five Years: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

 The Good:

In five years, most of you will be:

  • Working in a management role,
  • Working on teams with other disciplines,
  • Using skills and technologies you have not heard of to date,
  • Living in a nice house,
  • And In the solid middle class looking like you are doing very well.

The Bad:

In five years, most of you will:

  • Be looking for another job,
  • Have been fired (called by many names such as ‘downsized’) at least once,
  • And have a negative outlook toward your job and company.

The Ugly:

In five years, most of YOU will be:

  • Worried about making ends meet,
  • In serious financial debt,
  • Suffering from a physical ailment related to stress,
  • And feeling trapped.

After I cover this Good/Bad/Ugly part of my presentation (and I do go on to show them hope), I find some of them doubt me, but most seem to be worried about how accurate I might be. I assure them that, after having experienced it personally and having taught and coached hundreds of others, I am sure this is very accurate.

How about you? How many of those Good/Bad/Ugly points directly relate to your life? How did you get here? And more importantly, how did you get through it?

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Dale Callahan

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  1. Drew Hollander

    This is one of the reasons that I like your program so much. It’s the open-ended questions implied by this article/class that provoke thought. How do we not fall into the mistakes that will cause us to live the life described in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”? As you say, just the possibility of the accuracy of your statements is enough to pause and give thought. I have tried to make good decisions in my life, but it’s scary how accurate you are on some points.

    Only individuals can answer this question for themselves, but let me offer some advice from a person 7 years out of undergraduate work. Don’t let your career go on autopilot. Make goals for yourself leading you in the direction of what you think will make you happy and try to achieve them. If you fail, fail brilliantly. Never quit evolving.

    Not that I don’t need a dose of my own medicine every now and then, but reminding myself of the alternative (Bad/Ugly) keeps me going. Setting the dog in this article as my computer’s desktop background might be a good reminder.

  2. Dale

    Using the dog as the background is a great idea – and I am sure will start some interesting conversations;)

  3. Douglas C

    The article truly speaks to the idea of forecasting ones future. The unpredictable outcome of the Good, Bad and Ugly is prevalent within everyone at some point or another. One misconception that I think is portrayed through out undergraduate level is the “good” concept. The stereotypical, graduate, get a good job and your set for life. As discussed in our previous classes within the IEM program, the landscape of jobs and careers is forever changing and adapting to these changes plays a vital part to being successful in your career goals and aspirations. Similar to the previous post, the Dog truly depicts the article as a whole; we all know that these animals can be “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly”, similar to the peaks and valley’s that take place in our lives. The key point that stands out to me is that knowing all that can happen, and being proactive in deciding which direction you can take your career.

    D. Craddock

  4. Joey Beck

    Lies always look nice and smell wonderful, but the great thing about the truth is that it stings painfully when you recognize it.. This article should ring true to everyone if not now to their current situation, but perhaps in their past 5 years. It could just as easily be described as “Don’t Settle”, Be Vigilant” and “Have a Goal”. You don’t take a vacation by just driving south for 4 days. You have a goal, or a plan, you stay informed on the weather, the traffic, the events and options around your destination, and then you make the most of it as you are well aware that your time is limited. Why do we not all live life in the same manner as we take a simple vacation to the beach? After all , aren’t we all just trying to get to margarita’ville?

  5. Jamilah Vester

    Wow!!! The Good, the bad, and the ugly is the perfect analogy to describe the path one could end up on in adulthood. I shared the same thoughts as those students you spoke of in this article. I figured once I graduate, I would be able to get a job that paid well, have a house, pickett fence, a dog, and a nice car. Well, a few months after graduation I was hit with reality. I was in the ‘real world’. Although I was not a student in your engineering class, I was blessed not to have faced the bad or the ugly. I have not completed five years since undergrad, but I am heading in a good direction. I am grateful to have entered the IEM program. This program has shaken me up in a positive way. It has shown me not to just sit on the sidelines and wait for something to happen. I have learned that NOW is the time to TAKE ACTION. I have definitely become a more outgoing person which is needed to become a leader. I have begun thinking ‘outside of the box’. What I use to think was impossible, now I think I can and I will. So, all in all I am positioning myself to be amongst the GOOD!!!

  6. Wesley Sims

    This was a thought provoking article. It speaks to the harsh reality of adulthood and one’s potential. I feel that I am a pretty analytical individual. Sometimes I tend to over-analyze things, but I feel like I make calculated decisions that I will not regret in the future. SO I would like to think that I am preparing myself to be amongst the “GOOD” five years out from undergraduate studies. However, as I approach three years post undergrad, I find myself among the BAD. I say that in reference to the “be looking for another job” part of the above mentioned “BAD” option. This comes as me not working in the field of my desire or what I went to school for. This comes as result of the economy and job market. However, I am financially stable and am filled with youthful vigor so I don’t fall into the “Ugly” category. So half way from the 5-year post undergrad benchmark, I am positioning myself to be among the Good and headed to Great. I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Success is a never-ending tunnel. Keep setting goals as you achieve others.

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