With engineers in high demand, EE students are growing accustomed to getting several job offers, and 30 percent of all graduates expect to have four or more offers by the time they complete their studies, according to a survey by Jobtrak.com, an online job-listing service. This wealth of opportunities often takes young engineers in unexpected directions.
Regardless of their field of study in college, graduates are looking beyond mainstream engineering jobs to consider positions that might easily have been overlooked. Estimated indicate that more than one-million technology workers will be needed in the United States by 2005, so recruiters are offering top salaries and benefits to knowledge workers to fill these positions.
Employers were offering an average starting salary of $49,884 for engineering positions, according to December's Jobtrak.com salary index. That's one of the highest averages for jobs in the index.
New engineers may not think first of medical-device companies, such as Medtronic Inc., when they start their careers, but engineers can and do find great fulfillment and rewards in the medical-device industry. In this business, engineers work with a machine that benefits from low power the human body. The challenge is to provide sophisticated features for minimum power consumption.
For example, analog ICs are used in various devices, including pacemakers that maintain regular heartbeats, neurological stimulators that alleviate pain or control tremors, and sophisticated visualization products that physicians use to navigate during complex surgeries. Engineers in the medical-device industry have unique opportunities on the cutting edge of technology.
By dint of their ingenuity and the application of engineering principles, these engineers work in a context many never dreamt about. One can design prototypes in research facilities, take prototype designs into operating rooms, connect prototype designs and products to patients on surgical tables and watch as various systems work together to provide lifelong solutions for people with chronic diseases.
"Careers in the medical-device industry provide engineers with great personal satisfaction and meaning," said Julie Friedman, global employment manager at Medtronic (Minneapolis). "These engineers get to work toward alleviating pain, restoring health and extending life. For example, at Medtronic, with the help of our physician-customers, we return our patients to more full and productive lives every 15 seconds in the following specialties: cardiac rhythm management, cardiac surgery, neurological and spinal surgery, vascular, ear, nose and throat and ophthalmology. It does not get any more challenging and meaningful than this."
Even within companies known for hiring engineers, there are non-traditional job openings. Two unique jobs for which Hewlett-Packard Co. recruits electronic engineering students are sales representative and marketing engineers. Sales representatives thoroughly train in Hewlett-Packard computer and imaging-product services and solutions. They work in teams to design solutions for large customers and build relationships with people. They also give presentations of new ideas, products and solutions while convincing customers that the Hewlett-Packard solution is best for them. Marketing engineers become experts in particular products, receiving comprehensive training in those products, services and solutions. They work closely with sales representatives and customers to develop solutions that the marketplace wants and will buy, and introduce new ideas and products. They also work with the press and with advertising to get the highest possible visibility for Hewlett-Packard products.
"We find that electronics engineers have the education to understand complex electronic products and services," said Jack Greene, marketing manager at Hewlett-Packard. "To be a successful sales representative, a student needs also to be aggressive, energetic and self-motivated. To be a successful marketing engineer, a candidate should have some business education or experience and communicate well in person, on the telephone or through the Internet."
Keri Resh Kraft is marketing and communications manager at Los Angeles-based Jobtrak.com, recently acquired by Monster.com.