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How to choose between two jobs

  1. Jun 27, 2014 #1

    donpacino

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    Hey Everyone,

    So due to the nature of my job I get to 'rotate' to a different position every 9-12 months. I have already completed 1 rotation in flight critical FPGA design (along with various hardware/software responsibilities). I will most likely complete a total of 4 rotations before I 'leave the program' and end up working 1 job for a few years.
    For my next rotation I have 2 main choices.

    1.) Work in EE hardware verification on my locations core product. I will be the only engineer on this effort. I will be assigned a very experienced (35+ years in industry) chief engineer to help me and be a mentor. My reservations to this are that it is verification, not design. It will strengthen my knowledge of our main product's functionality significantly.

    2.) work in EE hardware and control theory design. This rotation will be very design and math intensive (which I love). However It is not a core product at my facility, and even though I am being told there will be a lot of design work, I know I will be working with a few others on the design team. It is entirely possible that I will move into the team and someone else already did or is doing the controls work.

    I feel like option 1 will be very good for my career in the long run, however option 2 might allow for me to springboard into the controls side of the business, which is what I really want to do.

    My goal for this thread is for all of you to weigh in on my choices, as I want to get various perspectives on this matter. I figure talking this through may help me make a decision.

    For reference. My ultimate career goal (at this company) is to become a chief engineer working with hardware layout & selection and control system design.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2014 #2

    AlephZero

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    If you have a few more "rotations" to come, this isn't an either/or choice. You could do both.

    If you plan to stay with this company, personally I would go for "strengthen my knowledge of our main product's functionality". The further up the organization you aim to reach, the bigger the picture you need to be able to see. At chief engineer level, the interesting questions are not how to do solve some math intensive design problem, but things like "what business is the company really in? What business do our customers think we should we be in? What should our product line look like 5, 10, 20 years from now?"

    (And if you hit a challenging math intensive design problem when you get to be chief engineer, you don't have to solve it yourself. It's probably cheaper to hire a smart graduate just out of college ... :smile:)
     
  4. Jun 27, 2014 #3

    D H

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    If it's an interesting problem that will take 5 to 20% of your time to solve, you might want to assign it to yourself.

    One of the biggest dangers in moving up the hierarchy is degradation of technical skills. I've run across far too many technical managers who were technically competent in some previous millennium but now are dumber than dirt technically (and they make dirt-dumb decisions as a result). The good ones are those who regularly assign themselves a small but meaty technical task so as to keep that skill degradation down to a minimum. It can't be too meaty because that means not enough time to spend on management, but on the flip side it can't be too small because that means they're only giving lip service to keeping their technical skills intact.
     
  5. Jun 27, 2014 #4

    AlephZero

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    Agreed. I got lucky, working in a big company that had the wit to realize that fact, and set up a career structure with parallel tracks for "management" and "technical specialists", with notionally equal status, and (more important) equal pay scales, at least to the levels that cover more than 99% of employees.

    (And the two tracks also have independent processes for promotion, so the specialists' career prospects are not at the mercy of technically illiterate managers!)
     
  6. Jun 27, 2014 #5
    There are many opportunities. Find one that excites you and go with it. Do not assume that the "career ladder" is the end-all be-all.

    I have had numerous opportunities to become a manager in my company. I have walked away from every single one of them. I like engineering better. Managing people is not my cup of tea. I've seen it done. I know what it's like, and frankly there ain't enough booze on this planet that would make me feel better about it.

    Your aspirations may be different. Your tolerance for dealing with people may be better. But only you know for sure. Go with what you feel you'd like to do and leave the "career track" talk for someone who actually wants that.
     
  7. Jun 30, 2014 #6

    donpacino

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    Thank you everyone for the replies.

    I recognize that I will have more rotations, however opportunities come and go. For example. If there is a strong business need for software engineers, we may only have the opportunity to rotate into software for that rotation.

    Also my company does have parallel tracks for management and engineers. Manager pay only pulls ahead when you get into the Director/VP style roles.
     
  8. Jun 30, 2014 #7

    donpacino

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    As for which rotation I want, I'm still at a bit of a crossroads. I have about 3-4 weeks left to make up my mind, I'll just let it stew and see what I come up with. The problem is both of them are interesting to me, for different reasons.
     
  9. Jun 30, 2014 #8

    D H

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    Have you asked people at your company for guidance? Based on your opening post, it appears you are 9-12 months into your work career, so just past the freshout stage. You should still have a mentor who's helping guide your career. If he or she is any good, ask. That person might know things that can only be said behind closed doors, such as whether one of those two projects is a dog. For example, suppose the design project is a dog. You might want not want to take that dog for a walk. Other design tasks will pop up.

    Do you know whether you want to climb the management or technical ladder? If you do, your mentor might have opinions with regard to which rotation will be a better fit to that goal.
     
  10. Jun 30, 2014 #9

    donpacino

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    At my company there are 3 types of managers.
    1. LDP (leadership development postion) managers: In charge of all the people in the rotation programs. there are only 2 of them, one engineering, one for operations.
    2. program managers: manages projects. a cross between an overall tech lead and the interface to the customer/finance department.
    3. functional managers: in charge of hardware, software, firmware, etc. primarily in charge of managing people (non ldps whcih make up 95% of the company) and department resources

    I have the ldp manager to go to for career advice, and I have multiple times, I also have an experienced engineer that I treat as a mentor. I have learned long ago is that taking advice from multiple sources can be the best way of obtaining information and insight into a problem.

    I'm 90% sure I want a tech role. I could see myself being a tech lead, maybe a program manager, but I could never be a functional or ldp manager. At this point I just enjoy actual engineering too much.
     
  11. Jun 30, 2014 #10

    psparky

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    Im just the opposite of Jake, I want to only manage and answer questions with very little engineering.
    I prefer that there are 20 people a day in my office asking questions rather than the engineering.
    I like to assist in engineering....but the actual front to back I would like to get away from. I enjoy being around people, that's me.

    Stick to whatever works for you.
     
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