I took a trip over the weekend to explore some career options. I received an invitation from NavAir, a civilian branch of the Navy that develops weapons and defense systems, to check out their facilities and have an on-site interview. About that same time, I also received an invitation to visit the Navy hospital in San Diego (those recruiters are everywhere!). So, I set out to California to check out some options.
Well, I'll just address the hospital visit by saying it was a big let down. After landing in LA and driving to San Diego, the doctor who said he would meet us there was a no show, he wouldn't answer his phone, and we couldn't get past the security gate. 5 hours of driving and a tank of gas later, we were back up in LA where we started. This provides, perhaps, stronger motivation to pursue a civilian route through medical school. Financially it is more difficult, and you may not have as many interesting experiences, but you do have more options and people tend to show up when you travel a thousand miles to meet them...
Anyhow, the visit to NavAir was interesting. The town is in the middle of a desert where the natural vegetation is basically limited to sage brush and an occasional joshua tree. The only natural wildlife I spotted consisted of 3 crows and a cockroach. Additionally, the town was small and less than picturesque. All and all, it wasn't our ideal destination.
They work on many important projects included F-18's and other jets, radar systems, and a number of different missiles. My tour guide was the head of the sidewinder division, and was very open. Some of the projects were interesting, but in the end, it seemed like everyone spent all day in a cubicle staring at a computer screen.
Strike one for the Navy, strike one for engineering. Now I just need to get into some decent medical job shadows.