8 responses to “Life-hacking my Engineering Day Job”

  1. Awkward Engineer (Sam)

    1. I recently quit my first job out of school and took 6 weeks office. It was phenomenal. I worked on side projects, learned a new programming language (I’m a mechanical engineer, so it’s outside the norm for me) and generally just got stuff done. It was awesome.

    2. Yay for technical sales! There is nothing I hate more than talking to non-technical sales people who don’t understand what I’m doing.

  2. Fluxor

    Since I now work from home and previously in a satellite design office where my boss isn’t even in the same country, I’ve always had a fair bit of autonomy. This gives me flexibility to devote time to my primary personal project of social engineering. I’m trying to ensure the two carbon-based lifeform products that I take partial credit for in creating are being fed the right inputs at optimal points in time. This is all to ensure that when these products mature, they generate enough output to support their father in a hedonistic lifestyle when he retires. Hence, taking off from work to attend a school play, taking them to the doctors, or whatever, is fairly easy to do as long as work gets handed in on time.

    Things will get more difficult, I predict, when I start my new job in China in a few months. Having direct reports probably means an end to my laissez-faire approach to work. I’ll have to rely on my lifeform co-inventor to do even more of the hands-on lab work.

  3. Richard Tasker

    We would love to have anyone that is competent work four days a week. Unfortunately, you are a little too far from our facility in Mt. Olive, NJ to commute.

    We have a hard time finding competent engineers here. We have been lucky so far, but as we continue growing I am not so confident in that luck continuing.

    I suppose the fact that we do allow flex time (for all our employees, including those working in manufacturing), work with people who may want to work part time and generally treat our employees and customer the way we would want to be treated is at least part of the reason we have grown as fast as we have and are as successful as we are.

    If you ever move closer, please look us up. If your skills are in the area we need (combination of analog and simple digital for use with pressure sensing) there could be a position for you!

    Dick Tasker

  4. Usman


    I am a recent graduate from electrical engineering program, took courses in power systems, dsp, programming, digital and analog hardware.

    Its funny to see you not wanting to work when I am confused as to how to get hired.

    Leave any suggestion for a fellow engineer (aka me )


    1. Sophi

      Dick- thank you, maybe I will sometime!

      Usman- Please read my suggestions and feel free to email me off list for more.
      Many times, getting hired is a matter of being in the right place at the right time- which means sending inquiries to companies that are not necessarily “hiring”. So many companies don’t have the time or resources or energy to write a job description … so when you send a blind resume, they are interested in meeting you.
      I’m a little bit mathematical, so my breakdown ratio goes like this: 40 resumes = 6 job interviews = between 1-6 job offers = 1 job you really want. Repeat as necessary. None of the 40 resumes I will send out will be to anyone advertising for an engineer.

      And interview as much as possible! It’s great practice, as well as being training for you to see what there is out there in the world. I’ve been to companies as small as 3 people to larger companies with 100 people. My approach does not work with large corporations at all.

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  6. Mitch

    I know I am a year late to this conversation but will jump in for anyone still interested. I found my salvation to get out of the corporate world. After 30 years in big companies, I got the boot as a senior engg VP from a top tier corporation. After helping start an engg consulting business inside an industrial design business run by some folks I knew, I realized a few life changing things (please forgive me blunt style):

    1. I can never go back to work for a bunch of big company hacks again. I haven’t the patience to work for idiots who all read the same popular business books-of-the-day and declare their utter genius as business execs implementing policies that failed 20 years ago. Been there, done that, not again thanks.
    2. After 15 years as an engineering manager and exec, I looked around at my former co-workers and staff. I realized the only one’s who were contented were my engineers involved in creative work. They managed to insulate themselves from the office political b.s. and be creative.
    3. My management peers and superiors were all as unhappy and miserable as me. Some were even more unhappy than me.
    4. As a consultant, I was constantly paid (and paid well) to do the cool, creative work I enjoyed. In fact, I did the innovative and groundbreaking work on the outside while my engineering peers on the inside were doing the cost reduction and value engineering.
    5. The variety of work, as a product design engineer in a consulting firm beat the heck out of the routine and repetitive work in the same company.
    6. Maximizing my $$ return on my time was not at all satisfying. Beyond a certain point, I really did not need the extra money… and that extra money came with a heavy price. It was stressing me in the extreme and pushing me to compromise my ethical principles in dealing with my staff. No more!

    So… after not doing engineering work hands-on for 15 years I discovered:

    1. I can still do it though it took a few weeks to brush the cobwebs out of my brain. After 2 weeks, I was just as good with the CAD tools as I was 15 years earlier and my creative brain still worked just fine, thank you.
    2. I like consulting because it offers me variety you can never get in the corporate world. I left the ID firm I had joined and started my own company (with a partner sharing my views). It was the easiest career decision I ever made.
    3. Now that I have my own company, as long as my brain keeps cranking, I can do this as long as I want (I know several really great engineers still working and enjoying work in their 70’s). Nobody will tell me I am too old to do what I want (I suppose our clients could if I stopped providing value).

    So… my morale of the story… if the corporate world is not for you, look into consulting. Some of you may enjoy or accept corporate America. Some of you may even think that a corporate gig gives you some sense of security (you realize that’s totally delusional, of course). If you can get into the right consulting firm (not run by an egotistical or self-important moron which do exist) or start your own (even better… you can be your own miserable boss), life can be good as an engineer. I’m 60 and loving it.

  7. Colleen Spiegel

    Hi Mitch,
    Well said. I have had managers ask me at my corporate job if I would like to be a manager. I usually politely decline — I like being an enginer, and I think that it is satisfying and fulling work. I have also had my own company for years in the past — so I can relate with what you are saying on that end as well.