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Inside tech. sales rep. searching for a focused career

  1. Oct 8, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone. I've been reading some of the posts related to career advice here hoping to get some guidance. Before I provide some details about myself, I'd like to thank you in advance for any guidance you may be able to provide.

    I got B.S. in Mechanical a little over 5 years ago and for the past 5 years I have been working at a medium sized machine and production line manufacturer as an Inside sales/ tech support rep. Company manufacturers custom production lines and dough handling equipment for industrial bakeries.

    The job title only really applies to 10-20% of what I do at work. Most of my time is spent coordinating with machine shop, engineering, purchasing, suppliers, shipper, shipping companies, accounting and customers. I take care of most things related to after sales, such as spare parts, equipment overhauls, retrofits, part failures, services to local and US customers. My main role is that of a coordinator or a liaison where I take information from customers, understand it, pass it on to internal groups and then coordinate efforts of internal and external parties if needed.

    I've been unofficially referred to as Service Manager by the owner (my boss), but I don't like to think of myself as a Manager because I am the youngest in the company with no official authority over anyone. So I have very little control over how things can be done. Most importantly I have no control over trying to fix any issues that come up repeatedly.

    The company is owned by a family and there are no clear rules or procedures at all. It is a very ambiguous and hectic place to work, where even the simplest projects can be extremely painful. My job responsibilities are not clear either and I basically have to do whatever one of the family members asks me to do, even call customers to ask for payments on outstanding invoices (shouldn't accounting be doing that?).

    The problem I have is that I have learned nothing technical at this job, although I've grown a lot in personal skills (leadership, communication, dealing with "political issues"). In terms of technical knowledge, I only know some very basic things about conveyors.

    I would really appreciate any suggestions on which job/industry/company can most benefit from the experience I have. In terms my own interests, below are the things I enjoyed in university (but have no real experience in!)
    - materials
    - vibrations analysis and noise control
    - design and analysis using Catia and Solidworks (no real experience though, only training)
    - and while working at this dysfunctional company - my interest has been growing in operational excellence, process management (but again, no experience!)

    At this point I am so confused that it is difficult for me to even take one step forward. All I know for sure is that I seriously need help and guidance. No one in my family or relatives is in engineering and professionals I know from work are in food industry, which is not my first choice. Though food industry is a safe choice because you can't make bread in China and ship it overnight.

    I hope I've provided the info to help you help me. Any input is highly appreciated. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2012 #2
    Your job has more similarities to my job than I like to think about. Sometimes I say that my job is to herd cats and compose angry emails. That being said, most any company needs people who do what you do. It is really, really nice to deal with someone technical in any of those roles, let alone all of them.

    If I'm hearing you right, you said you want something more technical. The bad news is you haven't learned much technical on your job. That probably makes it hard if you want a more traditional engineering role. The good news is you have learned a lot about business and people, which is useful anywhere and everywhere. With your experience, something like a technical buyer or shop or tooling coordinator might be a good fit.
  4. Oct 9, 2012 #3
    Ben, thank you for your comments.

    I am not only looking for traditional engineering roles, although it'll be tough if I choose to go that way because of lack of experience. For now I am hoping to find a job with not so many responsibilities scattered all over the place. It's impossible to get good at what you do when there is no focus. Plus, I have lost all faith in this company's leadership and would like to get out as soon as possible. Employee morale is really low and it's only getting worse.

    Some other jobs I've thought about would be Applications Engineering and Estimating (I also do quotations for small projects). I worked with an Applications Engineer in automotive during one of my co-op placements. He wasn't too involved in design or manufacturing, but kept the team informed on what customer expected and of any performance issues.

    Technical buyer is new to me. I'll do some research on that.

    I think I might just have to start applying to whatever is available out there and see where it takes me.
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