college/business can it be done

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by mbean408, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. mbean408

    mbean408 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    hey everybody :usflag: i'm matt, and im a senior in highschool. i know this has been discussed many times on here but everybody has a different situation so this is to all of yinz who have cut and went to a 4 year college without sacraficing one or the other. i am new to Lawnsite so ill tell yinz a little about myself. i will be going to The University of Pittsburgh for Mechanical Engineering and i have 7 accounts as of now. i would like to expand to about 13-18 accounts just to help pay my way through college (new truck, books, gas to drive 40 minutes to pitt and back everyday etc.). i am also going to schedule my classes early or real late so that i can come home and have about 3-4 hours of cutting time. i plan to keep a tight route as well. i understand college is a full time job within itself but a lot of my friends in a 4 year college have atleast 4 hours or so of free time each day and still manage to get good grades. i am not giving up cutting grass (fast, easy, enjoyable money which seems to make college bills a little less stressful and trust me ive been a stockboy, dishwasher etc. so im not trying to go back to that:laugh:) I really value an education so im making sure college is my first priority. all in all, i just would like to know if any of you guys were able to do both (like i said i dont want more than 18 yards at most) and what yinz reccomend as a "battle plan" for the next 4 years so that dont end up as another overworking, in debt, horrible grades, college student.

    any input good or bad is appreciated!:waving:
  2. STL Cuts

    STL Cuts LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 493

    Here's what I do. I think I have been very lucky with my current setup.

    I have 2 local LCO friends of mine run my business while I'm 3 hours away at college. Each take care of half of my customer base, this way it is manageable with their schedule. I run the business fulltime in the summer months and they take over at the end when I head back to college and take care of the beginning of the season for me before I get back from college. In the Fall we have a lot of 3 day weekends so whenever I get back I do the work as well.

    My Spring Break starts after classes Friday so I will be back getting everything ready to go for the season, checking in with clients, etc. It works out well for them b/c they are part time (one is a teacher) so they don't mind having some extra yards at the beginning and end of the season.

    I am sure to call and check in periodically with all of my customers to ensure everybody is doing a good job. This shows them that you care about them and at the same time gives you an idea of the work.

    IMO, go to college! It's a great experience and you won't regret it, you can work the rest of your life but you won't be able to get these 4 years back. I'm in my 2nd year here and am 100% confident I made the right decision.

    If you have any questions, PM me.
  3. deere615

    deere615 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,676

    I am a sophmore in college and I do it and it can be tough, But I just try and manage time wisely I do plowing all winter and at least 30 accounts plus landscaping in the summer So it can get real busy. Sometimes I skip class to just gotta do what you gotta do
  4. mbean408

    mbean408 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    30+ nice man, where do you live because in the pittsburgh area our septembers and octobers can be just as busy as spring season. my main concern with doing both is april, september and october, those are the months where college and work overlap. congrats being able to mow/plow/school! Thumbs Up, i really dont wanna give up the biz after putting so much time money and effort into it.
  5. deere615

    deere615 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,676

    Mckees rocks area.You? Yes my last week of august/september can be really busy! And yes April gets extremley busy with lawns starting to grow like crazy, new customers calling, mulch jobs, rain!, and final tests/project for school.
  6. zak406

    zak406 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    I could tell you were from pittsburgh before you ever said anything about Univ Of Pitt lol yinz Welcome..
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    This is a topic that has been discussed often, and at length on LS. Do a search and you can read for a couple of hours of comments.

    I have posted often on these kinds of threads, and said pretty much the same thing. Lest I repeat myself again, here a link to one of the last,

    Not quite all the details fit, but enough for you to understand my position on the topic.

    I don't know the direction of your 40 minute drive, but we might be close, or we could be pretty far apart. Nevertheless, I understand your concerns about April/May times. Depending upon the year, September/October can be hectic as well. Also, leaf removal work can make for very tough times, especially when the time changes. Your time late in the day is extremely limited.

    I would say that your friends who have "an extra four hours" are not taking advantage of their time in school very well. Again, you can do a search of the topic and my postings, so will only comment here briefly. Please avoid the mentality that college is only about taking courses, grinding through the academics, and leaving school with a diploma. To ONLY view college in this way, you are cheating yourself from the other rich experiences available. No, I am not referring to heavy drinking parties or other irresponsible behaviors. Rather, I speak about organizations, clubs, and other gatherings where you can learn to work with others, develop organizational and leadership skills, and gain a large network of colleagues. Just going to classes, running home to jump on your mower, does not help foster these attributes which will be VERY important after your graduate.

    I worked in mechanical engineering and related fields for decades, hired and managed engineers at all levels (associates to Phd), so I have some understanding of the stripe of worker. Anybody hiring a fresh-out-of-school engineer is looking for something to differentiate one from another. The one with greater skills OUTSIDE the pure academics will get the nod every time, if two candidates are on the same level academic wise. Finding employment is not easy these days, and the one who has a diverse set of experiences will be viewed differently.

    To the contrary of my point, if you have demonstrated your ability to start and successfully operate a business, you have established a point of differentiation as well. How important this might be, over against some of the things mentioned above, will depend upon the potential employer.

    Having said all that, I'm not sure of your longer-term goals. Starting your own business as a new graduate with a BS in Engineering is very unlikely. You may have aspirations for graduate school. Most of my comments are directed toward the typical string of events -- graduate, and get employment with an established engineering firm, or division.

    You clearly are not intending to make grass cutting your career. Good!!!!! If you think you have extra time while attending Pitt, my suggestion would be to find part time work doing flunky work within an engineering context. This might be in a consulting firm, in a public setting, in a larger corporation with an engineering department, etc. Even if you only have 10 hours of work per week, this experience is very critical.

    Further, the time off in the Summer, April 15 to August 15, you have much time to work full-time for an engineering firm, division, or similar. Again, this experience is VERY IMPORTANT, far more important that mowing some lawns. This experience will give you a couple of things:
    1. Insight into what happens in the engineering discipline. Maybe after seeing what mechanical engineers do, how they think, what kind of people they are to work with, and so forth, you may decide, "This is not for me!" This is important to know before investing large amounts of time and money into a field you may not like.
    2. You establish connections within the field. It may be the connections within the company, or those outside (e.g. professional organizations, ASME for example). These connections will be critical in finding full-time employment later. Networking is the primary way to find work.
    3. You make yourself known to others, and get to know yourself in a working environment. Others will know your skills, and you will get to know better what challenges you, what is of interest, and what you dislike. These working experiences often are the best way of finding out about yourself, in ways not offered previously.

    I hope this helps. My intent is not to be critical, but give you a viewpoint that will help you evaluate what is before you, perhaps in ways not considered. If this is all "old ground," fine, pass over it. No offense taken. If you think we are nearby, and you wish to meet to discuss, I would be happy to do so.
  8. mbean408

    mbean408 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    yea, exactely, its wild, but im in forward township which is on the other side of the river from monongahela. good luck this year!, theres still 4 ft. snow piles in my area and im more than ready for it all to melt:dizzy:
  9. mbean408

    mbean408 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    aha yea we're a rare breed:weightlifter:
  10. mbean408

    mbean408 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    thanks roger, this isn't "old ground" at all. im open to all suggestions because i want to weigh everything properly so that i dont make bad decisions. even though i plan to mow while in college i do plan on joining groups and still try to be at school as much as possible to "soak in" the 4 year experience that some people never take advantage of. internships and trying to get a part time job in firms is something i will start doing immediately, i have already talked to engineers at CHAPMAN CORPORATION (while doing a project for school) who have offered small jobs for summer to get the feel for the engineering field. thanks alot for the advice, im trying to think long term as well as still have a life through college. i just still want to keep my biz, even if on a 10-15 yard scale, just so i can pay for books and the kind of stuff college kids usually go in debt for because of credit cards and or bothering mum and dad for money. Thanks for the advice, it is well appreciated; are you working as an engineer or are you in the lawn care business?

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