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Not Sure if Enginnering is For me?

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wuchy143

Member
Hello All,

I"m not 100% sure if this is the correct forum for my type of "issue" but I know that smart, intelligent people are on here and I think I need to tap into that. Also, I'm not 100% sure if I don't like engineering. So, I hope some seasoned professionals/hobbyists can shed some light into my 1/4 life crisis. At least I think it's one. You can be the judge. Also I think this post could be benficial for people that are thinking of being an engineer or for someone who's in my shoes now as well. I am trying to be as honest as possible in this post. I haven't reached out to anyone yet about this except my girlfriend.

I'm going to try and make this short and sweet. Again...I'm going to try :) So, I"m almost 26 years old. I'm a guy. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in Electrical Engineering(bach.) from a state school. I had a 3.0 GPA and think I was a "decent" engineering student. Once graduated I eventually found a job as an electrical engineer. Basicly I'm a tech though who designs keyboards for the military. I do mainly re-designs of our existing technology. Once in a great while I will do some actual "design" but usually it is something really small and I wont do it again for months and months. For example on one of the designs I had to figure out what type of DC to DC converter to use and do it in a way so that I don't make it get too hot. I then take my re-designs of the keyboards/trackballs(we do trackballs too) and work with an outside company to get the keyboard layout complete. The board then gets delivered so I make a BOM which enables production to stuff the PCB and wallaa we got a keyboard. If I didn't mess up it works. This is 100% not the case. I never get it right the first time. Granted I know that I"m not going to be a perfect engineer but I feel like I'm a very bad one. My job consists of that(making the PCB), making cables for products and test cables, fixtures for testing, EMI troublshooting, production support when needed, release ECO's for product enhancement or for new BOMs, and that's basicly my job. All of which I don't feel like I"m very good at. I feel like a hack. I don't expect this all to happen overnight but I feel like I have made very little progress in 2 years.

When I was in high school i knew 100% that engineering was what I wanted to do. Then when I got to college it was hard. But, I was given advice from my mom to stick with it. So I would say to myself.....I like this! I got this! I can be an engineer! I got myself thru the weedout courses like diff eq...physics...and all those types of classes. I scraped and crawled for my 3.0 and have no problem admitting it. I was and still am proud of what I did in college. It was the best time of my life. As it was getting close to graduation I got depressed. I think I knew deep down that this gig wasn't for me. But I still searched religously for a J.O.B. I kept trying to be positive. It took me 6 months to find my current job.(long but not too long..I'm not complaining about that) It's a very small company and I was hired to re-direct some of my bosses work so he had more time being an engineering manager and not doing designs. I"m the only person other than my boss that is capable of doing my job at my company.

So, here is my dilemma. I've been here now almost 2 years. During the two years I have never truly liked my job. Maybe in the beginning it was somewhat new and exciting and I wanted to be excited about it so I think I was more "into" my job when I started but that faded quick. I"m just not happy with my job. Now I'm not saying I don't like my job because I want a "cushy" job where it easy and I don't have to do anything. Or that I want to not work at all and live off the governement tip. This is not the case. I don't enjoy what I do. I make mistakes left and right eventhough I take a million years to do the littlest tasks checking my work trying to make it 100% right. I make tons of mistakes which frustrates the documentation guy/my boss and in the end it's usually still wrong and I then frustrate production becuase I made a goof which makes more work for them. I don't like the responsibility where the work I do has such an impact on what others do. I don't like how when I mess up and have to re-spin a PCB it costs the company about a grand to do so. It makes me sick to my stomach. I no longer like electronics like I thought I did. I do to a degree but when it's your job it's no longer "fun". I"m not saying it isn't fun for people. I just don't enjoy myself doing it.

Now here is where I am going to ask for advice from people that have been where I am. Or anyone who has some advice as to something else I could do that could be more of a fit for me. It's not that I want to completely change careers. Although i'm open to that. Perhaps there is another type of job where an engineering degree would get me the job? I need a better fit for my job. I'm not unrealistic where I think I going to get a job where I'm going to be in love with it 100% of the time. I'm just so incomfortable, unhappy, and a little depressed that I know I need to do something about it. So instead of just complaining about my job I want to be proactive about it and approach it with a level head. I don't want to make a rash quick fix and then hate another job even more. So this is where YOU come in. Please give me your most honest replies. Brutally honest is fine. I just need some direction in this but understand that unltimately it's my decision/problem and there is no quick easy fix. I know that no one can just give me the solution to my problem but I think you can point me in a direction where I will be capable of doing that given some time.

Thank you for any replies! They are much appreciated.

-mike
 

Willbe

New Member
Basicly I'm a tech though who designs keyboards for the military. I do mainly re-designs of our existing technology. Once in a great while I will do some actual "design" but usually it is something really small and I wont do it again for months and months.

You have to change jobs.

I never get it right the first time.

You will asymptotically approach a small error rate.

I feel like a hack.

Some companies have golden boys; you will fix their mistakes and be blamed for them, and they will get credit for what good things you do.

I don't expect this all to happen overnight but I feel like I have made very little progress in 2 years.

Change jobs quickly.

I take a million years to do the littlest tasks checking my work trying to make it 100% right.

"Time becomes a problem when they dwell for so long on getting something "right" that they stand the chance of not finishing in time."


During the two years I have never truly liked my job.

Been there, done that.
Study up some on Game Theory and Political Science; you'll need it to keep the good job you eventually get.

Speaking of military stuff, if you blow the whistle you will be fired and discredited. I did it anyway.
 
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wuchy143

Member
ok. Sorry for the mispelling of engineering. Can't believe I didn't catch that. :(

Willbe: I'm not 100% sure on what you are hinting at for Game Theory and Political Science. I read the wikipedia definition and how it applies to politics but am a little confused.

So I take it you feel like I need to leave my job? So what did you do?
 

ericgibbs

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
hi,
If you are not 100% sure engineering is for you, its most likely not.

Find a profession that you feel 100% about and follow that.

Good Luck.:)
 

solis365

New Member
First, learn to spell "engineering".
I'm sorry, could you be any more rude? The guy types a huge post asking for help and advice and the only thing you can think to do is nitpick a spelling mistake on an internet forum?



anyway

I would say don't give up, but if you don't enjoy it then don't be miserable. If you don't enjoy it just because you think you're doing poorly, maybe there is some way to see how you stack up against other people - to see if you actually are doing poorly, or if you are just a perfectionist and think you are (like me). Sounds like you need to look for a position doing something else.

You may be able to study and obtain an MBA, which would put you into an engineering management position, rather than that of a designer. You could go into more of a technician's job, such as a testing position, or production. It's hard to say since I don't know you, but there are lots of other career paths you could turn down.
 
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audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
You are doing the simple boring job of a technician or technologist. Find a good job where you are an engineer who designs circuits and products.

But the timing is poor to change jobs. I heard that recently National Semiconductor and Hewlett-Packard laid-off many engineers who will compete with you for an engineering job.
 

crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Normally a design goes through a review process where other engineers review the work (often several times) to minimize errors. Since you are a one-man-show then it's understandable that errors will occur, particularly since you've had little experience. No one is perfect and it takes experience to minimize your errors (you know the old saying about experience being the best teacher). Is it possible to do any computer simulation of your designs? That can often catch a lot of the obvious mistakes.

Since you work at a relatively small company you might be happier in a larger company where you have more engineers to work on a project and learn from, and your task can be more specialized (and perhaps with less initial responsibility). You are not happy where you work, so I would suggest looking into a larger company.
 

wuchy143

Member
All,

Thanks for the posts everyone. I've already received some fantastic advice.

Putting together everyones thoughts I had a little idea where perhaps I may want to look into a "test position" like what solis365 said. I do agree also with what crutschow was saying as well about looking into a larger company. I have thought that and have been told that by a couple of people I know. Even the firmware guy I work next to hints to me that I need to go to a bigger company. He's a 60 year old whos been doing EE for 30+ years. But, I can't really use him as a resource because well...I can't run the risk of my boss finding out. In this economy I NEED my current job as do all of us :)

Exactly what types of things would I be doing say.....in a test postion at a company like BAE systems or Raytheon. I would give my left arm to get in there but a 3.0 GPA just doesn't cut it. Rightfully so which I understand. They have engineers there that went to the top schools with 4.0's. I do have some experience though now instead of being right out of school from a state school. How pertinent do you all think my current experience is? Granted I do have 2 years experience which isn't much..but it's better than nothing I would assume.

Again thanks for all the posts. I"m very impressed about the responses I've received. You guys are great.
 

wuchy143

Member
oops forgot to answer question.

The company I work for won't purchase me simulation software nor will they allow me the time to really use it. I downloaded a free version to use but my boss told me to stop trying to get the simulation to work because we have so much engineering back log and my time is needed on new designs/cables..and other more important things.

I don't mean to trash the company I work for. The way I feel about my job is more ME than anything. I'm not blaming them.


-mike
 

flat5

Member
When I worked Santa Clara, Ca. in 1979-1981 Techs offen changed jobs every two years. I don't know how it is today. Nor do I know what is normal for engineers.
I'd say try to find what area of ele. interests you and get another job.
 

wuchy143

Member
I'm not really sure exactly what I want to do in EE. That said I know now after my current job that electrical design is not for me. I feel like I would prefer to be in more of a testing type of EE job. Verifying someone's design by test? I'm very good at following directions to a T. I could see myself being successfull and enjoy following a procedure taking measurements...looking for oddities(design flaws). One aspect of my current job which I somewhat enjoy is after the firmware guy finishes the keyboard he gives it to me to "play with".(mainly because we are a small company and there is no one else but the firmware guy that plays with the keyboard) I'm good at finding things that are odd. Like, for example, if you change the voltage does the keyboard still scan keys? IF not why? Or if when you hit the combination CTRL + ALT + ENTER the keyboard hangs. Or operates in an undesired way like sending out jibberish to the host.

-mike
 

stevez

Active Member
I think it's clear that you do not enjoy your current position. It's possible that the job you've been given is over-rated as an engineering position or that someone sees it as a place to develop your engineering skills.

I am not sure that I see enough in your post to suggest that engineering isn't for you. Sounds like a job change is in order - if not with the present employer then with a new employer.
 

Willbe

New Member
Willbe: I'm not 100% sure on what you are hinting at for Game Theory and Political Science.
People do what they need to do to win and companies are no different. You need to be somewhat of a politician.

So I take it you feel like I need to leave my job? So what did you do?
I had to struggle to get satisfying work and avoid getting the excrement left over by the golden boys.
In retrospect I should have become a consultant as soon as I graduated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Herzberg
 
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crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
The one possible downside of going to a larger company is that you may be initially doing more grunt type work. In general, you work on only part of a design in a large company, not the whole job as you are used to doing. The newbies usually do the more uninteresting (and less critical so less stressful) part of the design. So you have to determine the type of work you want to do and then go to work for that group. Then you can work your way up into more interesting work. For example, if you want to do design, then you need to work in a design group. If you go to work for a test group, then obviously you would be involved in testing of the product (with perhaps the design of test equipment). Make sure you get a clear explanation from any future employer about what it exactly is you would be doing.

Your company should support you in getting and learning to use simulation software. It can save money in the long run and it's short-sighted of them not to. That's another advantage of a larger company. There's usually ample time and budget for simulation software and training.

Certainly two years of really good experience is worth a lot to an employer and will generally supersede your GPA from school. (The world of engineering academics with it's emphasis on applied math is somewhat removed from the real world of engineering anyway.) You have a proven record of accomplishment (and since you haven't been fired, your company must be reasonably happy with your work, even if you feel you've made mistakes. Engineers tend to be perfectionists and that can lead to stress, so sometimes you have to force yourself to accept a mistake as something that happens to everyone and go on.) It's not easy jumping from school directly into a one-man engineering job with responsibility for all aspects of a project and it seems like you've done it well. A lot of engineers out of college couldn't do that, even the 4.0ers. Companies like engineers who are self starters and can work basically unsupervised, and you should emphasize that you've done that in all aspects of the projects you've worked on when you go for interviews.
 
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Mr RB

Well-Known Member
I'm getting the feeling you've told us a LOT more about how you feel than what you have told your boss. Maybe it's time to tell him too.

And if you and your boss can't sort it out then maybe its time to find a new direction. Life is way to short to spend life doing something that you don't like. Buy a surfboard and become a beach bum, buy a g-string and become an exotic dancer, get a harley and a sleeping bag and hit the road. Do anything you feel like because when people are lying in their death bed NOBODY ever says...

"Gee I wish I spent more of my life doing something I hated"
 

Leftyretro

New Member
Hello All,

I"m not 100% sure if this is the correct forum for my type of "issue" but I know that smart, intelligent people are on here and I think I need to tap into that. Also, I'm not 100% sure if I don't like engineering. So, I hope some seasoned professionals/hobbyists can shed some light into my 1/4 life crisis. At least I think it's one. You can be the judge. Also I think this post could be benficial for people that are thinking of being an engineer or for someone who's in my shoes now as well. I am trying to be as honest as possible in this post. I haven't reached out to anyone yet about this except my girlfriend.

I'm going to try and make this short and sweet. Again...I'm going to try :) So, I"m almost 26 years old. I'm a guy. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in Electrical Engineering(bach.) from a state school. I had a 3.0 GPA and think I was a "decent" engineering student. Once graduated I eventually found a job as an electrical engineer. Basicly I'm a tech though who designs keyboards for the military. I do mainly re-designs of our existing technology. Once in a great while I will do some actual "design" but usually it is something really small and I wont do it again for months and months. For example on one of the designs I had to figure out what type of DC to DC converter to use and do it in a way so that I don't make it get too hot. I then take my re-designs of the keyboards/trackballs(we do trackballs too) and work with an outside company to get the keyboard layout complete. The board then gets delivered so I make a BOM which enables production to stuff the PCB and wallaa we got a keyboard. If I didn't mess up it works. This is 100% not the case. I never get it right the first time. Granted I know that I"m not going to be a perfect engineer but I feel like I'm a very bad one. My job consists of that(making the PCB), making cables for products and test cables, fixtures for testing, EMI troublshooting, production support when needed, release ECO's for product enhancement or for new BOMs, and that's basicly my job. All of which I don't feel like I"m very good at. I feel like a hack. I don't expect this all to happen overnight but I feel like I have made very little progress in 2 years.

When I was in high school i knew 100% that engineering was what I wanted to do. Then when I got to college it was hard. But, I was given advice from my mom to stick with it. So I would say to myself.....I like this! I got this! I can be an engineer! I got myself thru the weedout courses like diff eq...physics...and all those types of classes. I scraped and crawled for my 3.0 and have no problem admitting it. I was and still am proud of what I did in college. It was the best time of my life. As it was getting close to graduation I got depressed. I think I knew deep down that this gig wasn't for me. But I still searched religously for a J.O.B. I kept trying to be positive. It took me 6 months to find my current job.(long but not too long..I'm not complaining about that) It's a very small company and I was hired to re-direct some of my bosses work so he had more time being an engineering manager and not doing designs. I"m the only person other than my boss that is capable of doing my job at my company.

So, here is my dilemma. I've been here now almost 2 years. During the two years I have never truly liked my job. Maybe in the beginning it was somewhat new and exciting and I wanted to be excited about it so I think I was more "into" my job when I started but that faded quick. I"m just not happy with my job. Now I'm not saying I don't like my job because I want a "cushy" job where it easy and I don't have to do anything. Or that I want to not work at all and live off the governement tip. This is not the case. I don't enjoy what I do. I make mistakes left and right eventhough I take a million years to do the littlest tasks checking my work trying to make it 100% right. I make tons of mistakes which frustrates the documentation guy/my boss and in the end it's usually still wrong and I then frustrate production becuase I made a goof which makes more work for them. I don't like the responsibility where the work I do has such an impact on what others do. I don't like how when I mess up and have to re-spin a PCB it costs the company about a grand to do so. It makes me sick to my stomach. I no longer like electronics like I thought I did. I do to a degree but when it's your job it's no longer "fun". I"m not saying it isn't fun for people. I just don't enjoy myself doing it.

Now here is where I am going to ask for advice from people that have been where I am. Or anyone who has some advice as to something else I could do that could be more of a fit for me. It's not that I want to completely change careers. Although i'm open to that. Perhaps there is another type of job where an engineering degree would get me the job? I need a better fit for my job. I'm not unrealistic where I think I going to get a job where I'm going to be in love with it 100% of the time. I'm just so incomfortable, unhappy, and a little depressed that I know I need to do something about it. So instead of just complaining about my job I want to be proactive about it and approach it with a level head. I don't want to make a rash quick fix and then hate another job even more. So this is where YOU come in. Please give me your most honest replies. Brutally honest is fine. I just need some direction in this but understand that unltimately it's my decision/problem and there is no quick easy fix. I know that no one can just give me the solution to my problem but I think you can point me in a direction where I will be capable of doing that given some time.

Thank you for any replies! They are much appreciated.

-mike
Try engineering/technical sales, they can make good money and nothing they do has to work ;)

Lefty
 

blueskyd

New Member
Hi wuchy143, I am totally understand what you feel, I think the most important thing is that you must make sure what you want and what you really like , you do not like your job , ok , what do you want to do , just do it , that is all!
just be happy !
 
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