For readers who are old enough to remember Seinfeld, one of the most brilliant episodes was The Contest where the phrase “master of my domain” entered popular culture. And the only similarity between that Seinfeld episode and this episode of What The Flux is that catchphrase.
Master of my domain — that’s what it has been for the past decade and a half as a working engineer. I like to think that I know my domain pretty well — analog integrated circuit design. I also like to think that I’ve been a fairly decent engineer, that I’ve progressed and matured, and that I’ve mastered the challenges presented to me over the years. Still, in the last little while, things started to get routine, a bit boring. I felt restless, and that restlessness caused me to consider other career trajectories, perhaps even a jump over to *gasp* management. Eventually, I did get that management opportunity, even if I was pushed a little. OK, pushed a lot, all the way to China.
Officially, I started my new role as manager this week and I’ll be traveling to China soon enough to meet my new team. One of my first tasks is to hire a few interns. HR presented to me this week three spreadsheets full of candidates, about 60 in all, of which I’m suppose to whittle down to a manageable list to interview. Apparently, other managers in China had already filtered out their list of interviewees, so I have to play catch-up. But as I looked through the list, a twinge of uneasiness came over me. First, the list was in Chinese, which is somewhat of a challenge. Second, the list contained not much more than name, city of residence, GPA, major, and percentile on test scores. Worst still was that since the candidates attended various Chinese universities, all of which I am totally unfamiliar with, the GPA figure was useless since the spreadsheet doesn’t indicate what the highest attainable score is. So one guy has a GPA of 3.5 while another gal has 89. Umm…
I started by choosing those with high percentiles on their test scores. Then I filtered further by city of residence, so those that lived too far away were excluded. Then I filtered out those majoring in related but not directly applicable fields (e.g. semiconductor material scientists got cut — sorry Miss MSE). At the end, I was still left with more than 10 candidates — too many.
So I did what any good manager would do. I made it up as I went along. There was one female left on the list, so I picked her. For the rest of the selections, I went through a 4-step scientific process — eeny, meeny, miney, moe.
It’s obvious the twinge of uneasiness I felt is the fact that I now find myself in a new domain called
lalaland management. And if hiring interns is making me feel uneasy, imagine the stress when I start to really settle into the job. I do have a reprieve of sorts, however, since at my means of disposal is a certain specific way to release that stress, now that I’m no longer the master of my domain.
What The Flux is a semi-regular weekendish feature on EngineeringBlogs.org that follows the follies and jollies of an engineer in industry, yours truly.