Largely unfinished but here it goes: The industry has always been on a state of flux. Periods where where if we just hang tight, there are riches and rewards soon to be enjoyed all, followed by periods of malaise and impending doom. From my perspective, it's a matter of perspective in relation to the history. Before Pinnacle, there was United. Before United, there was Pan Am. Before Pan Am, well, you get the hint. The industry has always been ebb and flow and will continue to be just that. It's not as bad as some of the negative nancies profess, but it's also not as "OMG flippin' sweet" as the kool-aid contingent cheers. The industry will always ebb and flow. Always. So let's use a cheesy surf analogy. If you want to surf the sweet nuggs like Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" you're going to need the following: A decent surf board. That surf board is, and I know I'm a freaking broken record about this but it's a four year degree. The best jobs still require them and no matter what the glossy magazine ads and cut-and-pasted "pilot shortage" articles say, the best jobs will always remain ultra competitive. You may have a good job at a company that doesn't require one, but your job, including my own, may not be here in five years and you're going to need career flexibility until the day you either quit or retire. You don't want to be the last, bitter guy at a failing carrier that you thought you were going to retire from when "New Hotness Interglobal" is hiring and you you don't meet the minimum qualifications. Sure your uncle knows a guy who got hired there without a degree, but guess what, you're not and get over it real quick. Why do I bring up the degree issue again? With career flexibility comes the confidence that when the industry goes into the inevitable "ebb" cycle, you're not anchored down to a potentially sinking ship and have a large array of options when you start hitting up your networking contacts. Holy crap, that's right. Networking contacts. I am at an airline that I hope stays solvent until I retire, but if you think I've stopped building a network of aviation professionals that I hope I can all in my time of need, you're crazy. And if you're not doing it, you're crazier! These are people that you can count on and that they can count on you thru the cycles of the industry. DO NOT BURN BRIDGES. This industry isn't high school where you get a summer vacation "social reset".