Am I sabotaging my career? (Computer engineering student)

  • #1
I am a sophomore student of computer engineering, and since the beginning of the summer I have been working with a small web services provider (web development, hosting, among a few other things, with close ties to my university). They took me on with no experience at all, and have been generous and supportive throughout my employment. In return, I want to offer enough of my own time and service to make good on their investment in me.

However, I have had people whispering in my ear that I should look for an engineering-related internship for this coming summer. I am torn between company loyalty and good sense. So, I am here to ask for opinions. Would I be sabotaging my career by marrying myself to this sort of firm while I'm at University?

I would like to see myself move on to hardware-oriented engineering fields in the future, for which my current job offers no experience. On the other hand, I am learning more about networks here than I will ever learn at school. I just don't know whether this sort of experience will preclude me from entering any sort of computer hardware engineering profession.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
When you are young, you have to be careful in spending time on things that does not enhance your career goal. It is so easy to get into a comfort mode and continue on. But youth is short and temporary. Before you know it, you get marry, having kids. You don't have time to learn new things. Not to mention you'll be buying a house and do the family thing. AND as you get older, your memory deteriorates, you can't learn fast if you try. You have to value your time now as if there is no tomorrow, gain as much relevant experience now.

I know what you mean. In 1981, I joined a very good company called LeCroy......Sounds familiar? It's the company that make digital scope competing with HP and Tektronics. It was a very good company, treated me very nice and gave me tons of opportunities. I did not even have a degree in EE. Because I worked hard, the owner Walter LeCroy actually flew me to New Jersey to the home office to work directly under him to design high speed digitizer front end. That was my first experience with analog design. I learned so much from LeCroy.

But after 2 years, I was getting very good at my job. I know I need to learn new things. I was lucky that an IC company called Exar interested in me. It was a very very hard decision, leave my family behind and venture out, or stay. I decided to go to Exar. I actually shed some tears over it. But I had to, I was 30 at the time, time was running out, I can't get stuck in one facet of electronics. So I spent 2 years designing analog ICs. Then I made a big move to Siemens Medical Lab to design the analog front end for the untra sound medical scanner.

Even in 2000, after 10 years being promoted to manager of EE in Charles Evans/Physical Electronics. I decided it's time to learn new things. I left, took a demotion to become an EE. I got into RF and all sort of new things.

Looking back, I would not change a thing. Electronic technologies move in a quantum leap. YOu stuck in a job for a few years, you'll be left behind because you are repeat the same experience over and over instead of gaining new experience. There is a big different between 10 years experience and 2 years experience repeating 5 times. You want to be marketable, you have to learn and gain experience. You can't worry about anything else. Wait until you gain the experience and establish, then you can relax with a job you like and treat it as a family. I did, I stayed with Charles Evans/Physical Electronics for 12 years. But again, it's time to move. That was hard, that was really like my family.

I am not going to tell you that you can find another one you like just as well, it's hard. I did not find the next two jobs after LeCroy enjoyable. You might never find one again in this modern day working environment. But you are in a fast moving field, you have no choice.

I can tell you, I gone through good and bad economy, I never once have problem finding a job because of my broad experience. If you have limited experience, even though you are very good, but what if the job requirement changes and your experience is not valuable anymore?
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  • #3
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You're not sabotaging your career if you chose to stay with the job you have.

You're a student. Your full-time focus right now is that.

I think it's important to have some kind of work experience while you are a student. First, it helps to keep your debt load down. Second, it gives you experience to draw on later when you have to make career decisions. Third, it can help develop marketable skills.

I would look at a new job (whether it presents itself, or you actively seek it out) as having advantages and disadvantages. In most cases there isn't a single "correct" path.

Don't worry too much about being loyal though. You don't want to burn any bridges of course, but anyone who hires undergraduate students has to expect a high degree of employee turn-around.
  • #4
Choppy, Yungman, thank you both for offering your opinions. I have some time to mull the situation over and decide what to do this coming summer, and I'll take all of your input into account.


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