I am so depressed and not happy at where I am

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 30th, 2020 9:05 pm
Jun 15, 2015
5 posts
Toronto, ON

I am so depressed and not happy at where I am

I have graduated with civil engineering degree from McMaster University with GPA B-.
Since graduation, i've been mostly worked as a project administration for various construction project and recently got a engineering role at contractor company. I struggled hard to get into engineering position because I had no engineering experience. I believed the engineering jobs were the best considering the job security for long term career.
However, the engineering job in contractor environment was not what i expected.
My job scope was very limited and I wasn't learning much and felt I was being stuck in the stagnant environment. I was very depressed and not happy about my career , so I applied for the master of civil engineering degree to upgrade my resume to get into well recognized consulting company.
HOWEVER, my application to all graduate school was rejected due to my low GPA. Moreover, McMaster university, where i graduated from, doesn't allow to upgrade the GPA once graduated from school.
I'm so lost and don't know what next steps to take. I'm in late 30s and don't think its good idea to start all over from undergraduate school with different program. I don't understand why there is no chance to upgrade GPA to pursue my dream. I feel like there is nothing i can do at the moment and I'm stuck with this low GPA for the rest of my life. Is there any advice?
28 replies
Deal Guru
User avatar
Sep 21, 2010
13618 posts
Who's the prick that thumbs down this thread? OP's out on a limb asking for help and this jerk just wanna kick him/her when they're down? For once I'd love for a mod to out these pieces of crap.

Anyway, back on topic, I don't have much advice since it's not my field, but at least you're wanted since you were employed before, so maybe keep plugging away. Sending positive vibes.
The richest 1% of this country owns half our country’s wealth, 5 trillion dollars, one-third of that comes from hard work, two-thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons, and what I do.. <find the rest>
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3658 posts
OP I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps this is a sign that you're not meant to pursue a masters in CE or maybe even a career in CE. Most often people think about the getting their masters in same exact discipline (e.g. undergrad and masters in CE). Why not apply to a complementary masters program? Inter and multi-disciplinary experience and education is much more marketable these days. I'm not sure what is complementary to CE ...maybe something to do with sustainability? Given your experience and knowledge, brainstorm what other industries work in your field (e.g. suppliers, customers) are there any related fields where having a CE degree could be beneficial? E.g. sales? Materials? Technology? Maybe working for a software company that develops products/services for CE?

Also, upgrading your GPA isn't possible at any post-secondary institution that I know of - even if you take the course again, the original grade will always be on your transcript. However, more progressive programs also look at more than your GPA (e.g. work experience, achievements, related volunteer work, awards, etc.).

I also don't think you need to start from scratch. Do some research, try to think outside of the box you've created for yourself. Most programs have some type of career advisor that you can speak to before applying. Also fortunately many programs will now be available online (or at least partially) so you can maintain your job while going to school. You may also want to have a discussion with your manager and ask for advice how you can progress your career.

I know it's easy to feel down and depressed but this is often when we grow the most (e.g. how you pick yourself up) - life is full of these ups and down so it's important not to get so attached to events and experiences and let them define you or your existence.

You will be fine - trust yourself.
Before responding to someone (online or offline) ask yourself: is it true? is it helpful? is it kind? is it necessary? This comes from an old Sufi adage that is so relevant today.
Sr. Member
Sep 3, 2009
694 posts
There is no guarantee you can get a job you enjoy even if you finish your master degree. Be positive OP, at least you have a engineering job right now, although it's not something you hoped. I also work at one of the major contractors in Canada, not a engineer though, but looks like most engineers in my company enjoy their work. I think you can try to find a job in a different company while working at your current job to build your engineering experience. There are a lot of possibilities in construction industry, I am sure you will find something you like if you look around.
Apr 11, 2018
3 posts
Sorry to hear you are feeling this way about your career. Something you could try in regards to getting into a graduate program is to contact professors who are researching topics relevant to what you plan on doing afterwards. I knew of some other graduate students while I finished my MSc in chem eng who got in with GPA's the same as yours, but had meetings with professors first to discuss their research and express interest in joining their research group. If a professor thinks you are a good fit, it isn't too much of a problem for them to get you in regardless of your GPA. You would of course have to discuss that with them as well.
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2003
1268 posts
Jsu0512 wrote: My job scope was very limited and I wasn't learning much and felt I was being stuck in the stagnant environment. I was very depressed and not happy about my career
This appears to be the root problem you're having the way I read your post. Going back to school is one option but what about finding another employer and moving laterally? Having a fresh start with a new company and people can reignite or revitalize your career, or more importantly at least removing how you feel of your current job. It's ok to get down about it but now you need to give yourself some options and explore new horizons.
Sometimes we think we are the problem when our career isn't moving forward the way we want but the company that you or I work for should share the burden too. If there's no room for growth and additional responsibilities, we all need to consider leaving for something new imo.
Deal Addict
Oct 12, 2006
1773 posts
What do you want to do?

How long have you been at the company? Jr roles are pretty repetitive and can be grunt work at an engg firm.
Have you talked with your managers about other opportunities?
More technical? Structural to civil or vise versa? More project role (Proj Eng working towards PM)?
What about left field and into the business side? BD team doing proposals?

I spent about 3 years at an engineering firm and found it wasn't my cup of tea. Got a job at an owner company, and within that, there's way more room to move around.
Thought I'd be more interested in the technical, but have actually enjoyed the project and project management side more.

Yeah, unless you really think the Masters is the key, I don't think that's the right route.
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
12204 posts
Get some more experience and start applying for other jobs while you're working. Sometimes you're going to be stagnant in your career progression. Just keep looking elsewhere. The opportunities will come.

Why do you feel going back to school is the optimal solution?
Jr. Member
Jan 30, 2018
133 posts
JayLove06 wrote: Get some more experience and start applying for other jobs while you're working. Sometimes you're going to be stagnant in your career progression. Just keep looking elsewhere. The opportunities will come.

Why do you feel going back to school is the optimal solution?
What's better in your opinion job hopping for experience or going back to school for further education?
Jr. Member
Jan 16, 2009
177 posts
I think the most realistic thing you can do now, is to focus on building your current experience. At least that's what I'd do.

You said your job scope is very limited and you weren't learning much in a stagnant environment. Is it possible to ask for extra work outside of your main responsibilities, or be proactive and help your colleagues? By doing this, you could potentially learn new skills and gain experience that you can put on your resume. If you don't think that is possible, and you've been there for awhile and don't feel like you're developing, maybe it's time to move to a different company. Your next employer may have more opportunities for you to learn and develop. It may take a few different jobs and multiple companies before you really start building momentum.

You should also be "creative" on your resume. It's common knowledge, but you have to tailor your resume to each posting - emphasize transferable skills, relevant experience, use key words, etc... If you don't have the exact experience they are looking for, but have done something similar in the past, then dress it up and make it sound more impressive than it is (without outright lying of course...).

Also, are there any certifications in your field that you could try to complete? I'm not familiar with engineering, but perhaps there are some certifications that could potentially make you more marketable?
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 4, 2008
6453 posts
Richmond Hill
I've been in your boat, and a low GPA is not the end of the world. Trust me. I graduated from UofT.

Definitely take a look at some post graduate certificate at colleges. There's a broad range of subjects, and each out sets you up with the appropriate skills to succeed in a given industry.

I would never recommend grad school to someone who is unsure of what they want to do after; it can backfire and pigeonhole you even more. That's not to say grad school is completely out of the picture. I did mine (with my 2.7 GPA) a few years after college, when I was sure that this was the industry that I wanted to be in. And at that point, I was able to override my GPA with fantastic references and strong work experience.
When given enough time, all threads on RFD can and will go off on a tangent.
Sr. Member
Nov 22, 2017
601 posts
Sounds like you are in southern Ontario. The reality about Ontario and Canada in general is that engineering as a degree is valued but there aren't many traditional technical engineering jobs to be had. I would say over 90% of civil engineers go into construction. Doing design of structures at big firms is not what it is cracked up to be. To tell you the truth you are just a number and get terrible pay with a lot of unpaid OT and stress because they have such large overhead expenses, a lot of useless HR, MBAs, "Managers". Basically the grass isn't greener.

You have a foot up on your competitors which graduate with a blank resume, i believe McMaster has a co-op program, so I am sure you'll be fine. My advice is to 1) start looking for another construction company and/or 2) do a post graduate degree at a college (project management, BIM, etc.)
Deal Guru
User avatar
Aug 6, 2001
14699 posts
Stuck in a Box
If only Academics dictated your future, we would all have more rich folks.

I think you should ride this COVID wave out, update your resume and keep applying. A friend of mine, was in engineering, was in a bit of a rut, so he ended applying to international roles, spent some time in middle-east, during the engineering boom,

Adding a degree may bring you up a little, but after the cost of the new degree and debt, you may not be far ahead, vs gaining more experience that gets you paid $$
Deal Addict
Oct 16, 2013
2299 posts
New Brunswick
According to the PEO, only a third of engineering grads are working in their field. So it is not you but the system.
May 2, 2014
254 posts
any software program you can learn to bolster your resume (e.g. autocad, sketchup)?

how many years of construction experience do you have? i think once you get between 1 to 3, doors may open up. expanding your geography of where to apply for can also be in your favour, however, oil and covid have impacts prospects.

i know your pain man..good luck