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Where do I go from here

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wuchy143

Member
Hi all,

I need some advice. I'm a 28 y/o hardware guy. I've worked 4 years as a hardware engineer and have a BSEE. I haven't been super satisfied during the time I have spent as an engineer.(rather it be a hobby than how i eat) So, to try and spice things up I thought I needed to learn some software. So I've dabbled with some micros developing some simple code. For example I made an hour meter that displays how long it was alive on an LCD. After that I started to look for a new job because perhaps it was my job itself that I didn't like. Well, I started my new job a couple weeks ago and I feel 10,000FT over my head. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse with engineering. I struggled to get my degree. I did ok with grades but studied waaaaaay more than kids that did much better than I did. I know engineering isn't easy for anyone but I truly stuggled. My classmates made fun of how much I studied and did work if that helps at all. I'm a social butterfly and feel like I'd rather talk to people about this stuff than sit in my cube day in and day out pumping out circuits and code. I'd rather do circuits and code in my free time. I enjoy it a lot. I love it. But doing it for a job makes it not so fun.

So where do I go from here? If I really want to be more social with my engineering background what types of jobs are out there for someone like me? I've only worked at small companies so I guess I haven't really seen jobs that I could potentially fit. I know it's tough because no one on here knows me but I've asked a couple engineers I know and they think I should, "stay in design" "take more courses"......... I guess

If anyone can give me some advice that would be great. Don't get me wrong. I love electronics. I'm on this site all the time just reading what you all are doing. But, I'm finding that for a living it just isn't for me. It takes so much out of me. I just am not sure where to go from here.

-mike
 

canadaelk

Active Member
Doing a job you don't like sucks. Been there, ...You know hardware and some software. You like to talk to people. Why not sales or marketing with one of the many mfgs or disties. Take some courses in these subjects, not in EE, to get ready. This gives you the time to scout the possibilities. This worked for me and I have not once felt regret. You may have to relocate, which also sucks.
Good luck and happy job-hunting! E
 

wuchy143

Member
thanks for the reply canadaelk!

It does suck. Though it's funny how I hated it at first but for whatever reason I have been growing callus to the fact that I don't like what I do. I know now that if I felt this way after I graduated and now I still feel this way then it's time for a change. I've proven to myself that design for a living isn't for me. I can do it but I'm not really having fun while I do. I'd rather be at home designing my own cool stuff. When you're not having fun then what's the point?

I agree that sales and marketing would probably be the best avenues for me to take. I love technology and talking about it and selling/showing it to people sounds like fun. I'm too social to be an engineer. Luckily I live in a city where a college is across the street :) I've sort of known the answer myself but coming on here was just another data point for me. I have people in my life(step dad, co workers) that are pushing me to stay in engineering I think because they want the best for me. Engineers make great money. I have it made....but being happy is soooooo more important.

Again thanks for the reply. I wonder which classes I should take.

may be a dumb question but what are, "disties" or "mfgs"?

-mike
 
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wuchy143

Member
what's cool about the application engineer approach is I wouldn't really need to take a class. Though, I may need to reach out and talk to a few electrical apps engineers. I live in NH and there is Xilinx in Nashua NH. I would die if I worked for them. I love FPGA's. Done some work with them. Powerful little chips. They are hiring apps engineers...hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
 

wuchy143

Member
haha. you got that right brownout. :) If I got in at Xilinx I would be the happiest geek and will try and spread the wealth to my friends. haha

It just stinks because I just left my company of 4 years to take a better EE job. Now I have to quit my job soon.(only been here 2 weeks) Well I guess things are clearer in hindsight. I think I was also letting people in my life skew my judgement. Granted they were giving good advice...but not good advice for me. But I guess I can't complain. There are a ton of people without a J.O.B's so focusing on the positive makes it ok.

I'll figure this out and will keep you guys posted. Thanks for the help.
 

SABorn

New Member
To me to have a hobby i enjoy is one thing, and to have a job for bread and butter is another, as much as you might love your hobby and wish it was everyday work it is not always wise to travel that path.

See to have a hobby you enjoy is an excape from work, and gives some stimulation away from work, or life just becomes all work and no play.

I have many friends ask why i dont do electronics full time, as they quote...........you are so good at it!........ But i have learnt in life you are good at what you love, and when love becomes work you loose the passion, so hence for me i use electronics as an excape or a passion to dream up ideas about.

As i was once told .... dont mix hobbys with work, and this is my advice to you.

Good luck in your adventures, but dont mix work with pleasure.

Pete.
 

canadaelk

Active Member
I believe it was Einstein: The only thing worse than a job you hate is not having one!
distie: distributor
mfg: manufacturer
 

RadioRon

Well-Known Member
I wanted to chime in to add that another outlet for your talents that might better suit your personality is to learn to be a professional manager of technical things. There are many jobs that can come out of this. For example, you can learn to run your own company. Being the president of a company requires a lot more people contact, plus it is exciting. For this kind of thing you have to learn some of all the jobs reporting to you like accounting, sales, marketing, engineering, operations and so on so it is perhaps a long term goal.

In the meantime, with your technical skills you could be a good project manager at a larger firm. A dedicated project manager has to understand the technical work that is going on but mainly coordinates and schedules activities, gets people working and judges risk. This is a pretty good career path job in a larger firm, one that is often taken by engineers whose technical knowledge is growing a bit obsolete.

Then there are the classic management jobs where you manage a department of some sort. These also require technical knowledge but most of your time is dealing with motivating your people and keeping them productive, as well as deciding on budgets and activities to be taken on.

The typical path in many firms is when an engineer gains respect in his technical role and is promoted to management as a result. This actually doesn't work a lot of the time because many engineers either want to stay in the technical job or are not actually well suited to managing, but take the promotion anyways because the pay and prestige is "better". It is better for a company to find the engineer who actually has talent in working with people and coordinating things, and who is perhaps not the best engineer available but who knows enough to do the management job. Is this you?
 

wuchy143

Member
I wanted to chime in to add that another outlet for your talents that might better suit your personality is to learn to be a professional manager of technical things. There are many jobs that can come out of this. For example, you can learn to run your own company. Being the president of a company requires a lot more people contact, plus it is exciting. For this kind of thing you have to learn some of all the jobs reporting to you like accounting, sales, marketing, engineering, operations and so on so it is perhaps a long term goal.

In the meantime, with your technical skills you could be a good project manager at a larger firm. A dedicated project manager has to understand the technical work that is going on but mainly coordinates and schedules activities, gets people working and judges risk. This is a pretty good career path job in a larger firm, one that is often taken by engineers whose technical knowledge is growing a bit obsolete.

Then there are the classic management jobs where you manage a department of some sort. These also require technical knowledge but most of your time is dealing with motivating your people and keeping them productive, as well as deciding on budgets and activities to be taken on.

The typical path in many firms is when an engineer gains respect in his technical role and is promoted to management as a result. This actually doesn't work a lot of the time because many engineers either want to stay in the technical job or are not actually well suited to managing, but take the promotion anyways because the pay and prestige is "better". It is better for a company to find the engineer who actually has talent in working with people and coordinating things, and who is perhaps not the best engineer available but who knows enough to do the management job. Is this you?
I'd like to thank you for this post. The past week(since I posted here and got some great responses) I have been thinking about where I fit in high tech. I know there is a place for me where I can be happier. The last paragraph you wrote essentially describes me. So yes. You're right. It is me. I'm not the "best" engineer but with enough perspiration I'm able to do my job and do it pretty well. I have talent working with people. It comes easy. My last company I was at I was friends with 99% of the employees. Two people cried when I left. We joked. We talked. But we all worked hard and got things done. I understand it takes a certain amount of emotional intelligence to motivate employees. I'd be the manager that would set goals for my workers and if they meet them I'd consider taking them out for dinner even on my own dime. Or do something cool at work the next day. Because life is short. We must work hard to have good lives but why not enjoy life along the way? I completely understand that side of it mainly because I've had managers in the past that don't know how to motivate. They lack that human side to being a manager.

Do you/anyone know what steps I'd need to take to enable myself to become a manager? Would it make sense to get my MBA at night and still work where I'm at? Essentially I'd want to get myself to a point where potential employers would at least look at me as a potential candidate. Like I said above I have 4-5 years experience as an engineer with a BSEE. I wouldn't mind doing what I'm doing now but taking the steps in the background so in say....a year I can start looking to become a manager.

Any help you guys can give on this is much appreciated.

Thanks again.
 
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RadioRon

Well-Known Member
I don't know of a sure-fire fast track method of going this way, but there are some common sense things you can do. First of all, make sure that the decision makers in your firm know that you want to take a management career path. Be clear about this. Second, I endorse the idea of getting formal education in this area, but I'm not sure an MBA is the best choice. This is not to say it isn't, but I think we need to hear from others on this. There are other alternatives. In my town, the local universities (and at least one industry/professional organization) have diploma courses or series of courses that seek to train in Managing High Tech Development, or Managing Engineering Professionals or something like that. I have heard that such focused training is quite good. Here is one example:
http://beedie.sfu.ca/mot/learn/curriculum.php
 

RadioRon

Well-Known Member
Another training resource that you should look for is short courses on the basics of project management. There are many independent trainers and small schools that go around to businesses to provide these courses and medium to large companies often host such training. Look for these too. They are usually a few days to a week and are well focussed on the principles of project management.

It is important to learn the principles of management in its many forms as these form the foundation on which you can lay further training in techniques, tools, systems etc. My experience was not this way as I learned slowly on the job with only some short courses on project management, and I could contrast this to others who took more significant formal training in management. The contrast between the results was obvious in favor of taking the more formal training, the stuff that teaches basic principles.
 

Boncuk

New Member
Hi wuchy,

here is a part of my story. After I retired from the GAF (German Air Force) I felt too young to sit on a park bench and watch little children play (I was 43 years old at that time).

I established an electronic shop which would have fed a single person, but not an entire family.

So I looked out for good job and found it by applying my knowledge of electronics and aerodynamics. I became consultant for a UK fan manufacturer who made fans with variable pitch to fit any use.

That way I had good work (the muscle work was done by the customer) and I put in the computer, sensors and wired the whole thing up - programming the computer for the final task.

I became well known for my outstanding knowledge of aerodynamics and had to travel all over Europe to correct for planning errors of new buildings and the air handling units required for cooling, heating and air treatment (like water curtains to filter out dust) of offices.

After a while engineers joked saying: "Here comes Zons electronics, the entire company." Everone knew that I was unbeatable in the field of aerodynamics and I had to explain the customer why I wanted this or another change in air flow.

That way I had good work and talks with customers and engineers on every construction site.

You might think about doing something similar.

I did the job for 18 years until I decided to move to Thailand. (no work permit for foreigners in Thailand unless invited by the government.)

Regards

Boncuk
 

Mikebits

Well-Known Member
You can do what I did, go into the medical field. I like the action and each day brings something different.
 

wuchy143

Member
does anyone think it would be worth while to at least peruse potential "project manager positions" at bigger companies to try and get my foot in the door? Monster, Careerbuilder.... I know I can do the job. It's getting someone to believe me when I say it. There lies the issue.

The thing that I see being a problem is I have no experience being a project manager so many potential employers will just pass right over me. It's sort of the issue I ran into when I was trying to get a job out of school. Everyone wanted some experience..though I needed a job first to get some experience...and the loop went round and around.

I guess what I'm looking for is someone that is in the field that could guide me through the reality of my situation. It it plausible? My current company(and last) is very small and there is no dedicated project manager. I was hired to be the hardware guy and also add to my firmware knowledge to start doing that as well. So I can't just say I want to do project management when I was recently hired to do fw/hw. I'd piss them off and they'd probably think I was a wack case. I really wish I had this epiphany before I took the job :) Though, I guess it took me seeing another much more challenging engineering job to make me really know that I'm not happy doing this type of work everyday.
 
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