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Old 01-07-2015, 03:46 PM   #41
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Got my Business degree from a decent school with a minor in international business. Worked in Hong Kong for a little while, then was a network admin in L.A. Absolutely hated both jobs.

Currently a manager at a large automotive firm, I love it, and have been here for many years.

Given the number of engineers here, I guess it's not surprising that no one has touched on the soft skills yet...

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK, THEN NETWORK SOME MORE. LinkedIn, recruiting fairs, college alumni networks, mentor programs, cold calling, whatever you do, just make sure to cast your net wide. People who hate their profession are infinitely valuable, as they can often give you insight into a corporation's culture, and they are typically more than willing to vent.

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I ended up with a mentor that was a VP at Toyota. He was a raging alcoholic and a miserable bastard, despite making piles of money. The same pervasive OCD that allows Toyota to make reliable appliances also made this guy miserable, because the two were not a good match.

Technical proficiency on a resume might get your foot in the door and get you an interview, but personal skills will get you the job. If you're really good, you might not even have to interview. Even if you end up in IT, personal skills will set you well apart from your autistic neckbeard coworkers.

Interview for jobs you have no interest in, preferably at small firms outside of your intended profession. You will screw up and learn from your mistakes. Ask for feedback at the end of every interview..."Is there anything from the interview that I can clarify which would make me a stronger candidate?" Their answer will almost always reveal a perceived weakness about you, and smaller firms are more likely to field this question.

Internships and mentor programs can help you figure out which industry suits you. Ending up at a poorly run company in an industry you like will do you little good. Think about that when selecting a profession. Is it dominated by one or two huge companies? Or do you have dozens of smaller options?

Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:39 PM   #42
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First off, I am finding this thread very valuable.

My contribution:
I started off wrenching in an automotive repair chain putting myself through college. I was quickly promoted upfront to the sales counter and then recruited to a parts distributor. I hated retail sales but couldnt say no to the money as a 19yr old college student. I dropped out before finishing an Associates and am now in Outside Sales for the same parts distributor. I sell a commodity(tires) and have several competitors in my market selling the same stuff. It is good money, follows my hobbies and very flexible, but 90% commission based and very numbers/results oriented. I don't have control over anything that actually matters to my customers ie: delivery time, warranty, return/billing processing, inventory availability...

I am growing tired of trying to make MYSELF the attractive product and am considering going back to finish a degree to facilitate a lateral $$ career change. I have a 2yr vocational cert in engineering technologies and have always had a technical mindset, but seem to be fantastic in customer service/sales.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:49 PM   #43
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I am growing tired of trying to make MYSELF the attractive product and am considering going back to finish a degree to facilitate a lateral $$ career change. I have a 2yr vocational cert in engineering technologies and have always had a technical mindset, but seem to be fantastic in customer service/sales.
Do you mind traveling the world? You could move one more step further away from consumer goods after getting at least something resembling an engineering degree and work in outside sales for an engineer to order business. I think we're looking right now actually.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:51 PM   #44
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You could move one more step further away from consumer goods after getting at least something resembling an engineering degree is work in outside sales for an engineer to order business.
I didn't understand this sentence. ??
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:53 PM   #45
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He's an engineer, not an English Professor, bro.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:54 PM   #46
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I didn't understand this sentence. ??
I changed an is to the and it was supposed to be so maybe it makes sense now.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:56 PM   #47
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I changed an is to the and it was supposed to be so maybe it makes sense now.
This is incredible.
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:07 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Leafy View Post
Do you mind traveling the world? You could move one more step further away from consumer goods after getting at least something resembling an engineering degree and work in outside sales for an engineer to order business. I think we're looking right now actually.
Newly married, but no plans for children, so "yes".

Moving up to the vendor rung of the ladder is actively on my mind as well. A regional job with Toyo, Hankook, Yokohama, or someone else with "fun" products is pretty high on my list.

"something remotely resembling an engineering degree" is my roadblock. I am on the local community college website researching potential 2 yr "Engineering Certificates" at the moment.

Last edited by doward; 01-07-2015 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:19 PM   #49
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You'd be surprised how many people are Engineers without ever taking or completing an Engineering degree. You normally won't make as much as a degree'd engineer in the same position tho. And getting a spot usually requires starting at a lower level position in the company, impressing the right people and busting your ***.

My career:

I am an Mechanical Engineer at an aftermarket automotive company. I've only been there about a year but I love my job. 50% design and computer work, 30% working on vehicles, 20% vehicle testing. The best part is they don't over work me (40 hrs a week) and I have access to shop tools and very experienced co-workers for advice.

The key is once you figure out what you want to do figure out a plan of how to get into the industry. I didn't realize my car passion till halfway through my ME degree but I spent the last 2 years in FSAE learning everything I can automotive wise and networking with people in industry I met along the way.
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:41 PM   #50
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You'd be surprised how many people are Engineers without ever taking or completing an Engineering degree.
That's me. 2 year degree in CAD, and all but the paper for a 2 year degree in Mech. Design. I've been considered an engineer for the last three jobs (17 years or so), even though there is no certificate. 30+ years of highly varied experience does that for ya.

Yes, it does affect how much I get paid. It also means I am much less likely to have to sign off on stuff.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:09 PM   #51
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That's me. 2 year degree in CAD, and all but the paper for a 2 year degree in Mech. Design. I've been considered an engineer for the last three jobs (17 years or so), even though there is no certificate. 30+ years of highly varied experience does that for ya.

Yes, it does affect how much I get paid. It also means I am much less likely to have to sign off on stuff.
I know of 3 people in my short 2 year engineering career in that category.

1 was a machinest who learned how to write g-code and program CNC machines and worked his way into an Manufacturing Engineer title.

Another was in the shipping department. He expressed huge interest in design repeatedly and eventually got moved to a CAD designer and did well there. He's now at Space X making pretty good money.

The last I'm not sure his full story but he has only has a business degree but is one of the most technically knowledgeable MEs at an aerospace place I interned at.


Proving your value to a company is much more important than any piece of paper.
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:24 PM   #52
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She worked those jobs without a degree, or she studied in those majors and switched?
Unfortunately she studied those subjects and then chose to move to another for one reason or another.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:36 AM   #53
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I've got a related question, and I think you cats might be able to give me some informed answers.

I'm thinking about getting into CAD. I know very little about it, except what a powerful design tool it is and that it's a marketable skill. Where should I start? CATIA? SolidWorks? AutoCad? Is anyone using their CAD skills to work in a side business?
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:39 AM   #54
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Relevant question: are you any good at drawing stuff? Designing stuff? Building stuff? Visualizing stuff? Having skills in a CAD program is of no use unless you have the inner vision/muse/whatever to create stuff. Unless you want to support CAD designers, in which case it is useful, but not in the same way.
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:35 AM   #55
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Relevant question: are you any good at drawing stuff? Designing stuff? Building stuff? Visualizing stuff? Having skills in a CAD program is of no use unless you have the inner vision/muse/whatever to create stuff. Unless you want to support CAD designers, in which case it is useful, but not in the same way.
Honestly, my drawing skills are, and always have been, nonexistent, despite my childhood dream having been to be a car designer. However, I have a pretty decent concept of how machines/things work. What appeals to me about CAD is that I see it as a way to create things without needing to have an artist's hand. I'm not sure if my expectations are realistic.

I also have a dream of one day having a large house in the country. I think I'd enjoy being able to do floor-planning and landscape layout. At the same time, if I'm going to take the time and money to build a new skill set in the name of self-improvement, I would prefer that that skill set be marketable in some way.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:59 AM   #56
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CAD is simply a tool. I happen to have a knack for mechanical things, so CAD is just a way to get designs onto paper so the guys in the shop can make it. If you don't have that inherent ability (be it mechanical, electrical or artistic), using CAD won't help at all.

I also use it as a "side job", making drawings for my hobby, which is making model engines. I draw up parts to make sure things will fit before I start cutting metal, and to pass along the design to other hobby machinists.

If you're serious about it, there are plenty of resellers for the particular packages that will train you. It ain't cheap.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:58 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by TalkingPie View Post
I've got a related question, and I think you cats might be able to give me some informed answers.

I'm thinking about getting into CAD. I know very little about it, except what a powerful design tool it is and that it's a marketable skill. Where should I start? CATIA? SolidWorks? AutoCad? Is anyone using their CAD skills to work in a side business?
Only people using CAD/Solidworks as a side business are typically ex-engineers who go out on their own.

As far as being a CAD monkey or Solidworks "designer," there isn't all that much money in it until you've been doing it for a LONG time. And even then, I guarantee as a Tech Writer with a Journalism degree I make far more than the guys who have been "designers" here for 20 years.

Designer = no degree
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:15 AM   #58
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Do CAD monkey's even exist anymore? I know that we dont have designated drafters/cadders here. Engineers are the ones who CAD and draft, many of us younger guys come in having no ******* clue how to draft after being told in school that someone else would be drafting for us.

IMO a good way to do a CAD side business would be to get/build a 3d printer and have CAD design as one of the additional services you can provide.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:58 AM   #59
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Do CAD monkey's even exist anymore? I know that we dont have designated drafters/cadders here. Engineers are the ones who CAD and draft, many of us younger guys come in having no ******* clue how to draft after being told in school that someone else would be drafting for us.

IMO a good way to do a CAD side business would be to get/build a 3d printer and have CAD design as one of the additional services you can provide.
Yep.

All 3 manufacturing companies (including where I am now) have always had CAD monkey/drafters.

It's a lot cheaper to have 1 engineer controlling what 1-3 drafters do than just have 2-4 engineers.

I mean, taking an existing drawing/model and making the red line changes isn't exactly difficult work. Which is why those people tend to start around $14-15/hr or so.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:08 AM   #60
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I have probably just shy of 20 years of solid modeling/CAD experience using both SolidWorks and Pro/E. And another handful of years in 2D stuff that isn't really relevant. I think I rendered my first solid back in 1992... Woo.

It really is just a tool. Most places won't care if you know the one they use as long as you can prove you're good at it generally. And I find them pretty interchangeable in terms of functionality. But if I had to pick one for you to learn first, I'd say Pro/E (which btw is now Creo Parametric). It is less intuitive than SolidWorks and your skills will translate easier if you know Creo (Pro/E) and move to SW later.

I've worked places where there were and were not CAD monkeys. Nowhere I've worked was I ever just a pure Engineer that threw half-finished models over the fence to a drafter. I have been in charge of drafters though. You don't want to be one if you have career vision. Worst case you want is to be hired as a drafter-designer to break into an industry and then work your way into an engineering position, but you'll need a degree. I did that type of work as summer jobs while I got my BSME just to get familiar with the environment. It was tremendously valuable.

Here's what I'd suggest as a technical guy:

Learn any CAD software. I suggest Pro/E or Creo no older than 1 or 2 versions.
Learn as much as you can about regulatory agencies like the FDA, UL, CSA, CE, ISO, etc.
Learn a little bit about ANSI/ASME tolerancing standards.
Learn a C programming language.
Learn the basics of analog electrical systems so you can put together a basic circuit.

Then you will be in a fun place.
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