You are welcome! I have seen too many layoffs and spent too many months looking for work. I love engineering but sometimes wonder if I should have gone into something else. I did / do follow my heart and interests, but am always working to be better skilled, trained and looking to grow.
Don't we all build networks these days? But to your point, there are some managers who do very well at one opportunity -- help grow the business, or improve engineering productivity, etc. -- and that leads to the next opportunity.
But have you ever worked with professional meeting attenders? You know the type that I mean -- no real authority to make any decisions, but their daily calendar is mostly filled with meetings where they listen, collect or give status, perhaps offer an opinion, and that's about it.
If you want to find a productive employee, look for the ones whose Outlook Calendar is sparse, or the ones who judiciosuly -- or perhaps courageosuly -- conciously skip certain standing meetings because they have actual work to do and their status can easily be communicated by a quick email.
I have nothing against meetings, as long as they have a productive purpose and expected decisions or outcomes. But I think all of us who have worked in American corporate engineering have known too many whose actual job title was professional meeting attender. And I wonder how well they do when they find themselves out in the cold in this job market.
There is truth in your statements, but in all things, there is a distributiion of success and failure. I prefer to look at the advantages that all engineers have when they have the opportunity to do good work. Everything else is part of life, both the good and the bad. I prefer to look ahead, not back. You can influence the future, but you cannot change the past.
I don’t want to be a wet towel and I love to hear stories of people who make it. There are probably greater percentages that tried the same thing and failed that we never hear from. I call it the “Driving cows across the mine field” analogy where a herd of cows are driven across a mine field to blow up all the mines so people can safely pass. The cows that make it across probably said to the other cows something like “you must have done something wrong because I made it across and all I did was put one foot in front the other and I made it. If I made it anyone can”. The surviving cow is held up as an example to other cows en masse to attempt crossing the mine field. Now if 9/10 made it you can say that is not too bad, but I suspect it is fewer (1/10?). If engineers could easily make it on their own there would be a lot of businesses looking and hiring inexperienced engineers because all the good engineers would be running across the self-employed field because it would be worth the risk. However, from the want ads and postings from businesses, it is still a buyers’ market because employers are looking for perfect candidates and not lowering their expectations. I have ran my own high tech business over 30 years during my unemployed gaps and found it is mostly 1/3 the income of working for someone else because the amount of work out there is small even though I made twice per hour as much being my own boss. It is like the MPG ratings, Tech schools, and diet ads say in the small print, “your results may vary”.
At one interview the HR person was very interested in hiring me, but the CEO voiced concern that my home business would interfere with my work. I assured them it would not.
Then the CEO did anyway what he was planning all along - he hired his nephew.
I have been out of work for 17 months, after 25 years in electronics design engineering. Suitable vacancies are hard to come by here now in South Australia.
It seems that a specialty in product design has pigeon-holed me to an out-of-demand area in these times of declining manufacturing industry. Classmates who went into management, project management or 'connecting boxes' engineering seem to be more employable than someone who can actually design circuit details.
I have been trying all sorts of lateral and alternative positions besides product design, but get the impression that no-one is prepared to take on a senior engineer from a different specialty area, when they could take a cheaper graduate and train them up. No matter that my 'grey hair' experience will allow me to make better decisions that save the company money.
I have managed to pick up just a small bit of consulting work, for a client a I assisted for my previous employer, but it is very hard to secure enough consulting work to keep a steady income stream.
I am considering taking some basic wage unskilled work, just to pay the bills, but electronics design is what I really love to do!
I have been laid off many times, but this last one was by far the very worst. For starters, our divisions manager called an all hands meeting and announced that there would be some cuts, and that "if it turns out that we need some more engineers then we will just hire some more engineers", as if it were as simple as buying more potatoes. He implied that all engineers were the same, and interchangeable. Then 24 of us were released in one day. I was working off-site and found out about it when somebody slipped, since I was "not to be told until I got back". They had to hire me back for one more day to finish the offsite work.
What I discovered after being released is that if one is unemployed the HR people will not consider even interviewing you. I learned this, also, when somebody slipped up as I continued pressing for w reason that an agency had no interest in me.
The result is that I formed my own company and did various jobs and projects, and since I was employed again I got some interviews within two weeks. Then I got a good job offer for an interesting job that I was a perfect fit for. Unfortunately, before I could start, a previous medical problem came back and rendered me unable to work for anybody. And that was my evaluation, not theirs, and I am not one to give up. So I retired instead.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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