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how do i be prepared for my first electrical job?

how else can i be ready for the first electrical engineering job

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Subject: Career question for you


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Daniel’s Answer

That's kind of a broad question, which means that any answers given may not address the specific question(2) you had in mind originally. So please come back with more specific questions if you desire. I'll try to answer from most general to more specific.

First, there are some skills which would help you in your early career for any line of work. Things like showing up on time (or early, until you have a good understanding of what your boss/workplace expects of you); being consistent (do what you say, say what you do); choosing clothes and language that fits within the needs of your workplace; be open to learning new ideas/skills, etc.

Next, see if you can find internship/co-op/part time assignments at companies in your chosen field to get some work experience within the industry. Most colleges and universities have job placement resources; many companies will attend Career Fairs and interview potential interns/hires on campus. Attend those, talk with representatives from companies who can give an idea of what it's like working there. Do some interviews even if you don't think you'd work at the companies; think of it as practice for when you do interview with a company which interest you. If there are Meetups, or clubs/special interest groups for topics of interest to you, go attend a couple of meetings. Oftentimes you'll find the folks who organize and/or attend these meetings are great resources in your job search.

When you do go to interviews with companies of interest to you, remember that it's a two-way conversation. They are trying to figure out if you would be a good person to hire (mostly this means that they are testing you), but you are also trying to figure out if you want to work at this company. So be prepared to ask your interviewer questions - put them on the hot seat too! Some common questions that might be of interest to someone early in their career: what additional skills can I learn working here? (Many places have on-the-job training programs, some offer support for outside classes or support for additional degrees/certifications.) How doe this company nurture and grow its new recruits (sometimes people call this "career-development opportunities"). If you get to talk to an actual hiring manager (instead of a Recruiter or Human Resources representative), ask the hiring manager what qualitities and personality traits they most prize in new recruits. This is different than a technical skillset (what you'd learn in an engineering class); these are traits like curiosity, or hard working, or "thinking quickly on ones feet", quick learner, problem-solver, etc. Once they open that door by telling you what traits they look for, you can then provide some examples of what you've done which demonstrates those traits. Easy peasy, you just aced your first interview ;-).

I can say, from personal experience of 15+ years of interviewing job candidates, the #1 trait that I look for is motivation. We can find ways to provide the necessary technical training for any new hire, but I don't know of an effective way to train motivation. And in the long run, a motivated team member is a way more effective contributor to the team than proficiency in most technical skillset(s).

Last, as you work towards your engineering degree and/or certification, beyond learning the concepts being taught in classes, *know your tools*. To help explain what I mean, I should set the context - I'm an analog/RF hardware electrical engineer. I've worked on designing hardware that work at very high power (thousands of volts, millions of watts) to very low power (runs for years off of a battery, drawing milli or micro watts). While the design techniques change depending on the circuit, but the tools that I use are pretty similar. Tools to measure and observe what's going on in the circuit (signal sources, scopes and meters), tools to predict what should be going on in the circuit (simulation and analysis tools, mostly computer based), tools to prototype/implement a new design (CAD programs - both electrical and mechanical, soldering station), and most important, problem solving tools. The particulars of the tools change over time - new CAD or simulation programs, smaller/faster/more capable measurement tools. But how I use those tools to let me design a circuit to do a particular function, and to understand how it is (or fails to) doing that function, to troubleshoot a problem - that hasn't changed much in nearly four decades. So pay close attention to learning how to use your tools to help you tackle a problem.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Attend career fair or recruiting event, try to find and talk with a hiring manager (not just recruiter)
Investigate opportunities for internships, co-op programs, part-time job in industry
Ask, ask, ask questions about potential companies that you'd like to work at. Does the company provide an environment that suits you?
Have (or learn) the skills to do the job that you want. Get the motivation to learn the skills for the next job you'd want after this one.
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Dan’s Answer

The answer from Daniel Chang is great so I can't add much more to the "before employment". Once employed, you will be busy learning your new job, however, I suggest the following be done when time allows:

1) Get to know your fellow employees, especially the ones that are already doing work similar to what you will be doing. Ask them about what they are doing and about the tools and techniques they use.

2) Ask your fellow employees to explain about the company history, products that they manufacture/sell and competitors. Knowledge of the industry will give you a big boost towards promotion and management.

3) You may only be working on a subset of the engineering tools used within your company so try to gain familiarity with those tools that are outside your normal responsibility. The first level is knowing what they are, the second level is actually gaining experience in using them.

4) If you provide a promised completion date (or are asked to complete by a specific date) then make sure you achieve it! Whatever it takes! If you are going to be late, tell your supervisor well before the due date (do not wait until the day before). If you provide enough advance notice then there should be enough time to implement a solution (such as extra help, the reduction of requirements, or even an simple acceptance of a delay). Management does not enjoy surprise schedule slippages!

5) If you see someone who needs help and you have some spare time, volunteer to help them. You should also volunteer to be involved in any tasks that simply appeal to you.

6) Ask your fellow employees to go out to lunch (or eat together) so that you can have time for the discussions suggested above.

7) Stay curious at all times!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Michael,

Here's Your Guide to Thriving in Your First Electrical Job

Embarking on your initial electrical engineering job journey can be a thrilling yet daunting experience. To guarantee you're fully equipped for this fresh endeavor, consider these pivotal tips:

Master the Basics: Ensure your knowledge of electrical engineering principles and theories is rock solid. Revisit your academic materials and textbooks to brush up on crucial subjects such as circuit examination, electromagnetism, power systems, and electronics.

Hands-On Skills: Get acquainted with standard tools and machinery utilized in electrical engineering. Hone basic skills like soldering, wiring, and diagnosing electrical systems to enhance your practical abilities.

Safety First: Always put safety at the forefront of your work. Get well-versed with safety rules and procedures specific to electrical tasks. Learn the correct usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and emergency protocols.

Continuous Learning: Keep abreast of industry shifts and progress by perusing industry journals, attending workshops, and connecting with seasoned professionals. Consider acquiring certifications or extra training to boost your expertise.

Communication is Key: Clear and succinct communication is vital in any job, including electrical engineering. Practice articulating technical data effectively, both orally and in written form. Be ready to work in teams and interact efficiently with clients or stakeholders.

Stay Flexible: Be receptive to acquiring new technologies and methods as the electrical engineering field keeps evolving. Show adaptability and readiness to adjust to shifting circumstances or project needs.

Be Professional: Embrace your new role with a positive mindset and a robust work ethic. Be punctual, dress suitably, and show respect towards coworkers and superiors. Be proactive in your work and aim for perfection in all your endeavors.

By concentrating on these key aspects, you're setting yourself up for a successful start in your first electrical engineering job and laying a robust foundation for a gratifying career in the field.

Top 3 Respected References Used:

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): The IEEE is a dedicated professional body committed to promoting technology for the betterment of mankind. Their publications and resources offer valuable insights into the latest breakthroughs in electrical engineering.

National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA): NECA provides training programs, safety guidelines, and industry resources for electrical contractors and professionals. Their expertise in the field can assist new engineers in gearing up for their first job.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA establishes safety norms and regulations for various industries, including electrical work. Their guidelines on electrical safety are crucial for maintaining a safe work atmosphere in the field of electrical engineering.

James Constantine Frangos.