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Every job I have ever had after college was boring

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1


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    I've held 4 jobs in the last 2 years after college. they have all had something in common, even though the job was quite different in each. I always find myself bored with not a lot to do. Am I supposed to just find things to do? How come these companies hire people when they don't have a clear purpose for them and they don't have a plan for them?

    I am an EE btw. Am I just not in a job long enough to really pick up enough work? I can't stand just sitting at my desk all day with no internet access (everything is blocked) and nothing to do. What exactly am I doing wrong? I kinda expected to be thrown into a project(s) from the get go.
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  3. Jul 12, 2012 #2


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    The opposite of "burning out" is "rusting out" but it's just as bad.

    Have you considered finding a job more to your liking?
  4. Jul 12, 2012 #3
    One of the most valuable skills an engineer can have is initiative. It is normal not to have a clear idea of a new hire's role in a group. What you should be doing is asking your coworkers if they need any help and then learning about their projects and pitching in. Before you know it you're indispensable.

    This is something that is hard to teach, and hard to see if a candidate has it in an interview.

    So find something someone needs help with, and do it! Own it. Your boss will notice and you will start getting better assignments. Soon you won't have to do that anymore because your plate will be full. As you execute well on more and more stuff, you will get more interesting projects. You just have to prove yourself. And believe me, it will be a LOT less boring.

    So when you get into work tomorrow, go talk to a couple co-workers about their projects and see if any needs a hand. I can't tell you how important, and how rare, initiative is.
  5. Jul 12, 2012 #4


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    My current job is a cost reduction engineer position. I guess they expect me tofind ways to reduce costs of the component I have been assigned to. How am I supposed to do that if I have no idea how the part works? I work for an automotive OEM and we don't have access to supplier schematics and drawings.

    And whenever I ask for work to do I am almost always told that they don't have anything or they just give me some BS busy work.
  6. Jul 12, 2012 #5
    Initiative my friend. Talk to the other engineers that use the component. Read application notes and white papers about the component. Learn about the underlying principles governing the operation of the component. Read the current literature so you are conversant in the state-of-the-art of that component. Most likely, there are a lot of ideas floating around in the literature about better ways to design, implement, or apply the component. Find them, convert the ideas into a form that makes sense with your systems, write them up as they would apply to your firm, and send it around the office for feedback. Become an expert in this component.

    More concretely, while you don't have schematics to this particular component, certainly generic schematics are out there. Learn them. Read anything you can, because while your suppliers may not do it exactly the same, you will learn a lot about what they do.

    Initiative, initiative, initiative! Don't wait for the world to give you what you want. Take it!
  7. Jul 12, 2012 #6


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    I've had 4 jobs so far in the past 2 years and I have disliked all of them. I should have went to med school. Engineering is meaningless BS.
  8. Jul 12, 2012 #7


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    I think you haven't got over the culture shock that "work" isn't te same as "college". "Work" isn't about doing nice logical homework assignments where the right answers are already known and the way to answer the questions is your course notes.

    I'm not too surprised you aren't being given "more work" to do. From what you said, you haven't delivered much on the work you have already.

    As #5 said, you have to get off your butt and figure stuff out for yourself. If you are just starting your carreer, people won't be too bothered if you make lots of mistakes (so long as learn from them and don't keep repeating them!) but they won't expect you to avoid making mistakes by doing nothing at all.

    But if you want something that doesn't need so much personal initiative, you can always look for a job flipping burgers or stacking shelves.
  9. Jul 12, 2012 #8


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    Honestly, they haven't given me anything to work on to start off. My last boss just told me vague things like "go invent a new product", or "go reduce the cost of this part."
  10. Jul 12, 2012 #9
    Your last boss is either too busy to deal with you or he or she wants you to show some initiative! Wouldn't that be more fun than sitting at your desk all day doing nothing? Learn something new! You'll feel really good about yourself when you do.
  11. Jul 12, 2012 #10
    Yeah exactly, 4+ people here have already told you what's the key: initiative. It's weird, on one hand you're complaining your work is boring, but on the other hand you're complaining your work requires inspiration and initiative.
  12. Jul 13, 2012 #11
    You bite your tongue.
  13. Jul 13, 2012 #12
    ... and if you think engineering is drudgery, wait until you get out of Medical School.

    I will reiterate everything that every single commenter said: This is the real world. Nobody hands you a task and tells you what to do. Pick up something, learn about it, and do something productive.

    Decades ago, I was maintaining an analog microwave network. I noticed the GPIB connector on the back panels of our signal generator and selective level meter. I devised a program for our PC to use the database of our channels on the system, find which ones were running above test level point and flag them. I also found places where I could insert a tone on the base-band to measure the flatness around the ring. I plotted the noise floor, the baseband flatness, and the hot channels.

    This was all without anyone telling me what to do. That program made maintenance of that microwave network much easier. It also earned me a promotion that I didn't even have to ask for.

    You can choose to rust in place, or you can decide to do something productive. Introduce yourself to people. Talk about what is going on. Find out where the trouble spots are and then do something about them.
  14. Jul 13, 2012 #13


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    Wow! You have an incredible opportunity here! You have what some might call a dream job - work on what you want to work on. Be creative. Experiment. Usually you only see that kind of stuff in movies.
  15. Jul 13, 2012 #14
    Others have already told you the obvious. This isn't school. Your employer isn't there to teach, although they may need to bring you up to speed on a project. You're expected to use your knowledge as an asset to bring value to the company that issues your pay check. In your new job, you've been given a blank slate; an opportunity to show them what you can do. You're on your 4th job in 2 years! That is not a good thing. Why should prospective employer risk hiring someone that appears to be lacking stability in their field? It sounds like you’re on track to be a permanent member of the 99%. Instead of bemoaning the choices you’ve made, make the best of them. You want to like your job? Try staying in it long enough to know it. In the start of a career, you are modestly better than “overhead”. When my brother graduated from law school, he went into practice with our father. In the beginning, he was overhead, but as he learned the difference between book law and the practice of law, he developed into a fine lawyer. When another brother went into the FBI, he was just another field agent, but by the time he retired, he was one of their top black bag guys. Your learning curve may take you some time to get to the major projects. Ever wonder if an employer was “testing” you to see if you have the initiative, knowledge, drive, etc.? How do you think you did, if someone were to ask them?

    BTW, I’m not trying to be hard on you, but at this stage of your career, you should be more concerned about you meeting the needs of the company and gaining the confidence of those you work with. IMO, your rate of job change is close to becoming an issue getting any new job. I would have loved someone to tell me to “go invent a new product” when I was your age. At your age, I got stuck doing things like inspecting NRC facilities for post-TMI retrofits, e.g. mostly reviewing paper.
  16. Jul 13, 2012 #15
    A good company expects YOU to come up with a plan and purpose for them, not the other way around. The places that make plans for you basically want to treat you like some worker drone. But if you like it, you like it. I personally want to work on my own agenda.
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