This community skews toward the very experienced. That often means you’ve fought in the trenches for many years, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and suffered through management incompetence and bit your tongue (or not) amid marketing mindlessness.
You’re still alive, but sometimes you wonder how.
I want to take your comments on that post a step further. Since we (heart) data, please take 30 seconds to answer four questions on a Google form (using this link or see the form below) so we can put some context around what is otherwise intangible: happiness. (We’ll keep it anonymous, so no need to give your name and email, as we do with the quiz forms).
Presumably you ask yourself these life and career questions as much as I do: Why I haven’t written that novel yet? It’s been on my to-do list since second grade. Maybe I should try farming. Etc. Most Americans seem satisfied with their jobs according to last summer's Gallup survey, but perhaps we just aren’t. Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard. Perhaps engineers simply have a higher standard by which they gauge work and the workplace.
Once you’ve answered the form questions, let us know here in the comments section below:
What’s your ideal job?
And how would you advise the next generation of engineers to manage their careers?
1.What’s your ideal job?
My ideal job would be a chip (ASIC/FPGA) RTL designer that has an embedded processor. I enjoy working through the complete development cycle. This includes definition, architecture, design, synthesis, simulation, timing analysis, programming of the embedded processor, chip tape for ASIC or floorplanning for FPGA, bring-up, debug, verification and release to manufacturing for shipment to a customer.
2.And how would you advise the next generation of engineers to manage their careers?
First I would advise anyone entering college to definitely NOT study to become an Elecrical or Computer Engineer. These are dying engineering professions in the United States. Unless you want to move to India or China you won't find a job once you earn your degree. There are still employment possibilities in Software, but if you want to be an Engineer go into Bio-medical, Mecanical, Civil or another engineering field. Getting to the real question of managing your career the most important advice I can advise is to maintain balance between your professional and personal lives. Fight for this balance. Most employers consider there employees to be no more valuable than a piece of furniture. I sacrificed too much of my personal life for my prfession and I now very much regret it. You lose valuable experiences with your family and your employer doesn't appreciate any sacrifice you make for your job or the company.
"you won't find a job once you earn your degree." Someone a little bitter? As a 30-ish year old engineer I see plenty of stateside opportunities for recent graduates. Sounds to me like you're painting with an awfully broad brush here.
1st off...degree does not equate with profession. I'm an EE and enjoying it. Being an EE gives you tons of flexibility on what job you want, especially if you are actually performance driven (i.e., not a slacker). Old timers are a totally different generation. 30-something EE here and loving it.
In my university's engineering department there was a cartoon showing two sine waves 180 degrees out of phase. one was labeled the economy and the other graduate school admissions. In other words it's the economy stupid. Studies have shown that graduating during a bad economy affects ones earning over their whole career.There are some graduates who's career goes 123 and there are others that get stuck at 1 +/- 0.2. Bitterness/loving aside, from what I have read, it boils down to supply and demand once the BS is earned.Then starts the real BS hitting the rotating air impellers.
1.That is what i am not able to decide.
2.Enginers need to focus onto their jobs sincerely and make it a success full onefor the organization they work. That can make them happy and also will get promotions
1A) Work in diverse technologies to solve eclectic problems (I enjoy solving problems for archaeologists, doctors, police, etc. using EE solutions)
1B) Work on PhD level problems (not routine boring stuff). I'd be lucky to get to spend 10% of my time doing PhD level work.
2)EE is only for people who have a passion for electronics and engineering. The future private-sector (non govt, non-contractor) market in the U.S. will not tolerate bad engineers nor be looking for 'warm bodies' as it did in previous years. Many EE's are currently washing out of the profession for this reason. Good EE's will remain highly employable.
1) I am working at my ideal job, designing, building, and operating instruments for space exploration, then analyzing the returned data.
2A) Don't specialize. Learn at least 2 different engineering disciplines with a generous dose of physics, and learn to write well. This will put you in a good position to join (or make your own) startup, where everyone has to wear multiple hats.
2B) Always apply for jobs that you are not sure you are qualified for.
I agree with all you say -- especially the "learn to write" part. I R an Engineer who drifted into being a freelance writer. The writing has opened so many doors and taken me around the world, and now it allows me to have my own little (one man) company (www.CliveMaxfield.com)
The golden age of engineering is over. Engineers once were content to take home smaller saleries than other professionals because the work was interesting and you felt you were appreciated. Not any more. Engineers are expected to put in long hours and get no recognition for what they design. Reporters, writers, actors, and other artists get regognition for their work. With engineers, you can't even place your name on a paper you wrote any more! Often, your name is replaced by the company name or worse, by the VP of the department. There is even a move by some very large companies to remove the true inventors name from patents, although thankfully, the goverment is resisting this. Engineers have told me they don't care about recognition. What they fail to realize is that the people with the highest visibility also get the highest pay. Unless engineers get more visibility in the public eye, it's not going to be a good career choice for young professionals.
Dude, the golden age of EVERYTHING is over. The artists, actors and such that make the big bucks are those on the top of their craft, pretty much like Gates or Jobs. The vast majority barely make a living, like the rest of us.
I think that engineers are very studied in their outlooks both job related and otherwise. Most of the time we can think of a dozen ways to make things better and this normally includes how things are done at work, at the store, at the restaurant, at the gas station, etc.. This can either lead to frustration or acceptance that things may never be "as they should". Oftentimes, the reality is that there are bigger issues that the working engineer is not aware of and may never know about. These higher level forces may be company politics, economics, direction, changing markets, and many other factors. Keep on trying to do what is best and right and try to understand if/when things don't go the way you think they should.
the ideal job for me where I could perform with freedom of mind and expression. I need to live my creativity and I want to express my tlents by my work. Unfortunately I am stumbling with a boss who keeps his subordinate as slaves
1). My ideal job is really what I'm doing now -- running my own company. This affords me the opportunity to be creative, use my art, and solve problems in a wide range of fields. There are subfields that I'd love to get into some day, Marine ROVs for instance. I've always been fascinated by them.
2). I would advise the next gen of engineers to first find a school that really suits their needs. We should all be turning a critical eye to the higher education system here in the USA. I feel that it is no longer working for the students, the entire reason it exists in the first place. I see a lot of negativity and bitterness in this thread, and I can only assume it is somehow related to a poor education experience. The other thing I would recommend is to build your network early, and build it big. This becomes your biggest asset when you're looking for jobs or trying to start a company.
I would be happier if I spent a higher percentage of my time doing engineering and less administrative/support activities. I am currently a full-time employee but found the work as a consultant more satisfying because I could concentrate on project work.
I think were I do to do this over rather than EE degree I would go for some thing in the medical field, either biomedical engineering or Prosthetic and orthopedics. I think with the newest generation of artificial limbs that will need to be fitted to the user and programmed, you would get to use a lot of the same engineering skill set but at much higher pay and status.
Pharmacy or Genetic Pharmacy when it emerges would be a wonderful field too.
1) I think I've finally achieved as close to perfection of opportunity as is possible. I work for a large chipmaker in one of its lookahead teams, and I have lots of freedom to go create. I had to work my butt off for 7 months as an underpaid contractor to prove myself, but the sky's the limit now. And, oh, yes, I have no CS or EE# degree; it's all self-taught and learned through almost thirty years of commercial experience. I'm not a millionaire yet but that's where my writing comes in. ;-) 2) I disagree that engineering in America has died or will die. First off, the corps are going to discover the downsides (loss of IP, etc.) of outsourcing and the salaries overseas are already rising rapidly. We live in very interesting times but the best is yet to come as we are poised for the need to make many technological leaps, from leaving silicon behind to storing power efficiently to bringing space technologies to profitability. I envy the next generation and hope I can keep my noggin working long enough to see and appreciate some of it. Those who see only sour grapes will reap what they stomp.
1. I actually enjoy the design work I sometimes get to do.
2. For the upcoming engineers: you will be better off finding something other than electrical to go into. Mechanical Engineering now gets paid more and does less work. Main thing is: investigate the firm wanting to hire you. If the parent company is an investment firm, tell them NO!, you do not want that job. Find some small mom and pop engineering shop to work for and as soon as they are sold out go find another mom and pop.
I hate trying to design things that have already been sold by salesmen who will promise anything for their commissions. Then they come back and complain that you aren't doing your job when you tell them that it's impossible.
Definitely do not work in anything automotive, ever.
1. To be work in an autonomous team designing and ramping cutting-edge electronic products. To be consistently recognized for innovation and productivity.
2A. Do not listen to the complainers comments.
2B. Find what is your ideosyncratic passion. What do you like to do that noone else does? To say that electrical engineering is a dead field is just plain wrong. If you get a charge out of computers, radios, guitar amps, teeny tiny accelerometers, etc. then EE is the field for you. I would warn that every engineer graduating today will go through at least four layoffs during their career. Networking, career development, continuous learning have to be part of your job. Learning does not stop when you graduate. If this sounds unappetizing, maybe EE is not for you.
1. What’s my ideal job? To create either for myself or others things that makes life better, and get paid so my children will thrive. Other than that, get back my Original Slack and not work for anymore Pinks.
2. I would advise the next generation of engineers to save all their money and be uber thrifty. Go to labor statistics where there are graphs that show the gaps between obtaining jobs are always increasing. I foresee a point where as soon as an engineer gets out of school you will have the shelve life of an unstable trans-uranium element and will be fired at the time you “fix the problem” for others. You will then go back to searching for work or school to start the process over and over. Whether you work as an employee or for yourself, the non-income gaps will become larger for most people. Stability and consistency is becoming a lost concept (except mortgages, service contracts, and bills) and income will be erratic. From this, relationships with employers will be like a construction job. The better you buffer yourself from the vicissitudes of life by having a big buffer, the happier you will be. You may even be able to say “no” to Pinks who wave just a dollar bill under your nose for all your skills.
To add to many accurate prior comments:
1. To work as an engineer, that is build ‘something’ drawing on understanding and innovation: this can include building a market, a test system, a company, whatever. As much as that is true and one can value the work he contributes, the job improves. As the job diverges into clerical, political, survive by sacrifice, or just a pay check, it worsens. An important part is that those running the company have an innate interest in the product and the work and the workers. The above while modest are increasingly missing in jobs.
2. New engineers should work toward owning their own company or being self employed. The past decades of being appreciated as an employee are not going to be repeated. Companies increasingly treat employees like contractors removing the significant connection of valuing the company product as something they owned a part in producing.
I am self employed and am perfectly happy doing
the design work I like.
No boss to please, no office gossip and no mindgames.
Take the advice also given here, and ask yourself what you are good at and then DO IT !!!
My last job WAS the ideal job, until it was ruined. I was the engineer supporting a research scientist developing a new product that would truly benefit most people, (at least, the ones who travel in cars). The job offered opportunities to use many of my skills, and the challenges with the product-in-process were quite stimulating. There were ways to be creative popping up almost every day. Then a new upper management person arrived, with an MBA and all sorts of marketing experience, and ruined the whole thing with a dramatic shift from championing creativity over to being fixated with neatness and conformity. The project was cancelled because the money needed to fund it had to be used for year-end bonuses for several very high level managers. Then, as we were all discarded, his final message to our whole division was that if they needed more engineers they "would just hire them", since all engineers were the same commodity. Most of the good engineers have left that division by now.
1) What’s your ideal job?
Answer: My ideal job is one where I get to do all sorts of activities such as writing specs, performing calculations, making schedules, managing young engineers, and using new analysis software on a off and on basis. At my current job I have done most if not all of the above mentioned items, however, at times I have been cornered to doing just thing. For the most part I like my current job but I feel that most of the times I feel that I am not challenged enough to step out of my comfort zone.
2) And how would you advise the next generation of engineers to manage their careers?
Answer: Do all sorts of different things and take various classes. Become familiar with not just what you are interested in but also what else is out there. Always keep an open mind about what you are willing to do from a skill set stand point to get your step in to the doors of a company. Always try to do things that push your limits and push you beyond your comfort zone.
(1)? are you happy
A: not really, it's a living.
(2)? ideal job
A: I like to do my job in a way that I can best help physicist to be to do their scientific 'experiments'/measurements and setup and maintain/service/build their measurement setups.
That is preferably technically, so one should be able to exercise the job at TOP level. That's what an engineer gets going, isn't it?
so to explain the answer 1:
Unfortunately one has to deal with all internal political decisions too, which will regularly sortof handicap/disable one.
That means that the best technical decision or advice you make, may not be accepted or worse: damage your career.
Overall: engineers are generally speaking grossly underrated.
As I was told over 30 years ago: Why should you do a 'difficult' (technical) study now to find out later that you should have done a FUN-study to be the engineers boss and get a triple salary?
Of course there is a solution for this in the book 'Hitchhikers guide to the universe':
Let them (non-engineers) colonize a planet and launch them first to do it.
Advice: Do the engineering study. DO it and widen your technical horizon as wide as possible. Do all the other things you like to do in your other life. Get the best at both.
That's interesting. MHO is that it's the Keynesians who do the damage. In the short term, subsidized R&D seems like a good idea, but when it's taken from successful businessmen -- and half of it is wasted -- it's a net loss.
1. One where I could get back to designing new hardware/software instead of modifying huge existing code bases (more than 12000 klocs in an embedded system for example). I spend more time reverse engineering than designing.
2. Hard to say - things will be different for those just entering the field. Reading "Software Creativity" by Glass might be a good start.
Well, there are professional skills and there are survival skills and they are not so strongly connected. They may not be able to tell IC chips from potato chips, but when it comes to intriguing, manipulating, pulling strings and so on they will run circles around you.
Now, you've made your choice, they made theirs. Not enough respect? Hm, bad choice then.
Happiness is a state of mind. If you want to be unhappy, you will be. There are too many sniveling, cry-babies out there who don't realize how good they have it, and yet they claim to be unhappy. I don't get it.
For the most part I am happy where I am. I think though eventually I would like to go somewhere else just to see what else is out there. Nonetheless the company I would move to is one of the companies that I wanted to work for to begin with.