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2013-08-23 1:35 PM

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Supersonicus Idioticus
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Thunder Bay, ON
Subject: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
Hey CoJ,

Just answering Dave's (djastroman) career questions made me want to ask for some advice myself. Here is me in a nutshell:

1. I am a highly technical electrical engineer with 4 years under my belt. Some think of me as a researcher, but I do not.
2. I have worked on some pretty cool projects including MRI devices for breast cancer detection and semiconductor materials for laser devices.
3. I get a thrill out of making new devices that perform better and are of better quality.
4. I can analyze the #$&# out of a situation and usually make some pretty cool discoveries/solutions.

Here is my situation:

1. I just graduated my Master's degree six months ago and I do not have a job. In fact, the last engineering employment I had was early 2010.
2. I live in a very industrial city that emphasizes milling, mining and forestry, which seems to be apprehensive of the 'odd' industries I have worked in.
3. I cannot relocate because my wife is starting her PhD.
4. I am trying to find some sort of job just to keep the cash flow coming into the household, but the unskilled workforce, while abundant, sadly doesn't pay well.

Here are my questions:
1. Considering that I will continue to look for electrical engineering jobs, in the meantime should I recognize that the market for engineers like me is bad, the pay is low for high-tech jobs, and therefore should switch vocations?
2. What are some options I have not yet thought of that I could do to leverage this experience?
3. Would it be better to start my own business? Even though my wife is TOTALLY adverse to the risk involved, I could easily make the case that I would earn more than I would working an unskilled labor job. Plus, the city provides seed funding for young people like myself, and there are many free resources to analyze market potential of ideas.

Thanks CoJ,
- Greg


2013-08-23 2:18 PM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Master
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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
Where are you, what is your degree, what is your specialty?

I work for a semiconductor company as our college program manager and I recruit recent grads (mostly EE) into engineering roles as one of my main functions. We have been known to consider telecommuting for the right expertise. Is that something that you've considered before?

If you want to send me a PM, I may be able to offer more specific advice.

That said, I too have a BSEE and an MSEE and I ended up leaving my engineering role for my current one. Not because I couldn't find work, but because I wasn't satisfied as an engineer. I still use my technical background but in a very different capacity and I'm loving it. I only mention this because if you think creatively, there may be other ways to capitalize on your background in a position that you might be able to find locally. I was ready to give up and get a job in retail management again (my previous career) when my current role turned up, so I totally get the idea of considering non-technical employment.
2013-08-23 2:19 PM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
Starting a business is a big deal -- have you looked into business plans, done analysis on demand for electrical engineers in your area, the cost to start up and how long it would take to get running, among 1,000 other questions you should ask yourself when starting a company. And, importantly, how long could you go without any income should the business not take off quickly, with your wife starting her Phd?
2013-08-23 7:05 PM
in reply to: mr2tony

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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
I would think with your deductive reasoning and problem solving skills you might be able to get a job requiring those skills outside of engineering for now.  If you are good at math, and I bet you are, consider actuarial work too.  Probably deadly dull but it pys gret and maybe you could pursue your own engineering business on the side? 
2013-08-24 5:33 AM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)

Originally posted by So Fresh So Clean  1. Considering that I will continue to look for electrical engineering jobs, in the meantime should I recognize that the market for engineers like me is bad, the pay is low for high-tech jobs, and therefore should switch vocations?

There are NOT enough EEs in the world, the demand is high and the pay is REALLY GOOD.  (in the US, but why would Canada be different?)

BUT you have to go where the jobs are.  I tell engineers this all the time.  If you want to do cool stuff, you go where the cool stuff is.

You say there is lots of manufacturing where you are - there is a huge huge need for EEs in manufacturing as things become more and more automated.  Are you sure they aren't hiring?  Are you looking for the right job titles??  

2013-08-24 7:06 PM
in reply to: mehaner

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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
Originally posted by mehaner

Originally posted by So Fresh So Clean  1. Considering that I will continue to look for electrical engineering jobs, in the meantime should I recognize that the market for engineers like me is bad, the pay is low for high-tech jobs, and therefore should switch vocations?

There are NOT enough EEs in the world, the demand is high and the pay is REALLY GOOD.  (in the US, but why would Canada be different?)

BUT you have to go where the jobs are.  I tell engineers this all the time.  If you want to do cool stuff, you go where the cool stuff is.

You say there is lots of manufacturing where you are - there is a huge huge need for EEs in manufacturing as things become more and more automated.  Are you sure they aren't hiring?  Are you looking for the right job titles??  




X2

To the OP, You mentioned that you have not worked in electrical engineering since 2010, what have you been working on? What does your wife starting a PhD have to do with anything? Is she funded? Do you have any kids? Why you may need to relocate, it may not have to be far. Did you apply to Bombardier in your town?


2013-08-24 11:19 PM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Supersonicus Idioticus
2437
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Thunder Bay, ON
Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
GLC - pm has been sent.

2010 was my last full time engineering job. I did my MSEE for the next two years.

As for the manufacturing thing, you are right, about 60% of the EE jobs are in automation or plant engineering. Another 30% is power distribution, and the remaining 10% are miscellaneous, which amount to about 5 open posted positions within this small city (population = 120k). I have had interviews, even with Bombardier, but my previous medical background possibly scares potential employers, much to the detriment of my efforts to show otherwise. I am not trying to complain, but rather share information to help me find my way through this situation. I would shut up and HTFU if I knew it would amount to something fruitful.

And I totally agree, Electrical Engineers probably have the best opportunity to work on something fascinating. We get to mix lab work with high power simulations, work really hard and then step away to observe the bigger picture of our work. However, you are right that you need to be where the interesting jobs are. I cannot relocate because my wife is just doing so freakin awesome at her PhD, that it would be a shame for her to stop.

So I think you guys helped me out some. It has come down to either finding a job outside my vocation where my analytical abilities shine, or find a way to continue to work on interesting projects remotely.

Quick question guys: If an EE job pays around $65-85k for someone at my level and experience, and my alternative is working at a non engineering job for $30-35k, wouldn't employers be willing to accept telecommuting at, say, $50k?
2013-08-25 6:01 PM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
OK, going back for the MSEE is a legitimate explanation for the two years, suggest that it is always phrased as a continuation of your engineering career (acquisition of new skills, etc.) not as not working in engineering.

I'll throw this out as a suggestion to consider: Your wife has a commitment and can't leave, which is fine and it sounds great. Unless she works at the University that she is studying at, if she intends to work somewhere then you are probably going to relocate. This sort of points to you changing jobs when that happens and trying to find something where she is at (don't know how her field so can't comment on employment options/locations) .

Also, don't know if you two can survive her finishing her PhD without you providing some income. So figure out what you would like to do, EE skill you want to acquire, or experience that you think would give you the best opportunity to find something in the same location where your wife will find employment and find a job in that field. Then relocate there, just you. Commute back as often as possible, even if it's air travel. As it looks now, money isn't that much of a concern (willing to take less than market rate for the telecommunications job), so the extra costs (apartment, travel, etc.) shouldn't be a factor. This will give you work experience that you should be able to leverage with your education, and give you more flexibility with your future career options. You and your wife are going to have to make trade-offs, we all had to.

The biomed field has some strong pluses, pay and interesting work are two. I've worked with people from biomed, but don't know anyone who went into biomed from an outside industry. It's sort of like pharma, to get positions in the industry you have to start in the industry and move around in it.

If you are looking for something for just a few years, then look into the Edmonton area. With the oil and gas boom places are screaming for engineers (and you are probably already use to the freaking cold, check out oilandgaspeople.com)

Good Luck!
2013-08-26 10:26 AM
in reply to: So Fresh So Clean

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Master
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San Antonio
Subject: RE: Hey CoJ, I need some career advice too (will keep it short)
I wish I had some advice for you, but unfortunately I don't know a lot about the EE world outside of construction. But I'm glad my thread helped spur some thoughts for you!

Have you thought about looking into different industries that would need an EE? For instance, the renewable market is huge down here, solar in particular. Solar companies around here need EE's pretty badly.

If you do end up looking for 'unskilled' types of work I recommend working at a bike shop. The discount alone should save you so much money that it's like making twice as much
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