Problems with confidence

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by sonofptolemy, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. sonofptolemy

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 10, 2011
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    Hi guys,
    I just want to get a general feel about how others view my situation.

    I graduated with a B.S. in CE with emphasis in Computer Systems and Mechatronics back in 2008.

    In case you are unfamiliar, we are just about 50% EE's and 50% CS in our curriculum.

    I graduated right into the recession and COULD NOT for the life of me find a job, let alone one that utilized my skills.

    I finally landed one in 2010 as a Electronics Manufacturing Engineer and got my hands dirty right away with troubleshooting and identifying electronics failures, dealing with our vendors and implementing certain processes to handle issues.

    The basics of Electronics has stuck with me and I have been able to utilize it to do my job and to get promotions.

    Now I am at a very embarrassing point in my career; I'm having difficulty with remembering the more tedious electronics design lessons that I spent hundreds of hours learning in school. I blame this on three things,

    #1 is the fact that I was out of practice completely for 2 years after graduation.
    #2 the nature of modern schooling methods that teach you more how to think than how to utilize real world technology. When I complained about this in school I was told that "you will pick that up later".
    #3 the EE's that I work with are old guys that are ABSOLUTELY NOT team players which is completely different from my college experience which was team driven, forthcoming (we helped eachother), benevolent, and just very open.

    If you don't see how 1,2, and 3 interact, allow me to explain. Being that in school we were mostly given older technologies and not enough emphasis on hands on as I think we should I am left with needing guidance in real life so that I can "pick up" on what I need. The problem here is that dealing with these old school EE's (which is only two), I'm not getting much of any help. In fact they are not forthcoming at all about their designs, nor do they give me a push in the right direction. When I need a refresher they seem to ridicule me. I have caught many design issues and have confronted them on it which has led to some embarrassing situations for them professionally and that doesnt help either. Whenever they can they will call out my perceived ignorance when in fact it could be about something that I simply need to review. I have been made to look like a fool more than once, a few times credit given to them for discoveries I made and told them, and despite my positive self talk I can't help but feel like a fool myself, my self esteem is at an all time low. I have been given the task of creating a function tester and I have avoided it for months now. Now management is breathing down my kneck and I really can't give an explanation as to why it is not done without embarrassing myself further. This thing has requirements for i2c and AC/DC power, current sensing, light detection, not to mention a go-no-go output. Its a big project and some of the technology I have barely got any real hands on experience with. When I tap into the EE's for any help they either shoo me away, ridicule me, act like they dont know what I'm talking about (play dumb) or take on that project themselves.

    I'm at the point where I feel like I have no face value when it comes to electronics here and I am seriously feeling like quitting. There is no team that I can tap into, there is no one I can shadow and ride along, there is very little opportunity for me to ask questions and 'jog' my memory on these things. I asked my boss about this and he basically told me that no one above me has any obligation to train me on any of these things.

    Is this NORMAL? Should I be seeking out new employment? Should I toss my degree in the trash? I feel like I'm worthless. :confused:
     
  2. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    Life is waaay too long, and potentially far too much fun, to deal with the personalities you described. Sometimes, it is unavoidable...you just grin and bear it and eventually move on.

    My advice would be quit and go find a job where you can enjoy 1/3rd of your daily life. But I don't know your financial situation, nor the market for your talents, so this may be bad short-term advice.

    The first two jobs (the first for one year, and the second for three) I had out of school were *awful*, and I had a lot of the same feelings you are currently experiencing. To get up the nerve to quit took everything I had, and each time I temporarily felt like a failure.

    Ultimately, I wound up going out on my own. Best decision ever. I get to choose my bosses (my customers), and if I don't like a co-worker, I fire him.

    The question needs to be asked: Do you like the career you have chosen? Usually, good technical people who like what they do don't simply forget the underlying foundations of their trade. Instead, they are drawn to constantly seek out new ideas and keep up with the state-of-the-art, even if through private, personal endeavors. You haven't done this. Why?

    Think about what you love. Then figure out how to make money loving it. That's probably the best advice I can give anyone.
     
  3. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    Oh...and the resistance you are getting from your coworkers: That is due to their insecurity of being exposed as fools. Competent people who love their work tend to assist in the raising of the next generation of technical talent.
     
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  4. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    You have angered the old, incompetent bears. That means you will probably have to change jobs, eventually, or become a completely self-contained design department.

    When I was working as an engineering aide, unpaid for that position, I found 14 out of 15 mistakes the engineers had made in one design. Did they thank me for working out of my pay grade? No, they complained that I didn't find all 15 mistakes and offered me 5 cents an hour for my annual raise. I quit 2 weeks later.
     
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  5. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    Coincidentally, this is how I managed to stay sane for three years at the second job!
     
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  6. sonofptolemy

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 10, 2011
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    Thanks it helps to get a little perspective on this. You are right that life is way too long to be worried about such squabbles.

    You asked me
    I am really not sure anymore. I really enjoy learning through troubleshooting. My way of learning is by having an interest in it first and foremost and I'm really interested when things dont behave as they should, my first question is 'how should it behave then?'. From there I learn about what the user is seeking from the device and what its intended for. That really expands my mind and I love it. From there I get to look behind the scenes, learn how things work and then ask 'whats the hold up?' I can learn a lot that way.

    My trouble in this particular position is when I'm told to stop looking....and then I get crossfire demanding for me to fix it. When I go to the design engineer, I go with humility, and I hate it when they take advantage of that. It takes the fun out of it. I've been here for going on 3 years now, and I have learned a thing or two about how the internal company politics work here. Pretty much these EE's play hero. Thats a dangerous game I think.

    Another thing, the heads of the company are ME backgrounds. They think like MEs and are really good at it. When it comes to electronics, they treat it as magic, and they treat the EE like he's a magician. They can care less if he does it the correct way or not, as long as it works. I think they do treat those involved with the electronics side of things unfairly. I demanded they invest more in electronics so they hired another EE who is pretty good at programming. They seem to be on board, and that EE's programming style is in line with how I learned in College (State machines, object oriented etc). But I have found that he is worse than the other EE. In fact the two can't even work together because they are so self centered. I wrote a lengthy email detailing this particular EE's team skills to his boss the Engineering director to which I got the reply "I understand but he is probably a jerk because you dont know what you are talking about" kind of response.

    Anyways I'm off on a tangent.

    I love seeing patterns, learning how things work. Unfortunately I feel that I need to work in a vacuum, and like you guys said, become my own design department in the company, a department with one head and one employee which is me. That really sucks because if I'm making mistakes I may not realize it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  7. sonofptolemy

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 10, 2011
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    BTW, I live in a tourist destination with virtually no tech industry. My office is literally over the breaking waters of the beach. Its mostly cold and foggy here, but I can't beat the view. I live close to my son so I can see him almost everyday (mother and I split).

    So its hard for me to leave. But I'm seriously wondering if this place has outlived its goodness to my career. I don't want to develop some bad habits or bad attitudes as an Engineer.
     
  8. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    This is normal to an extent SonOf. I've personally found the EE field to be very elitist. But I understand why once you get to a certain level you feel bothered by newbs asking lots of questions. I don't think your situation qualifies because your actually trained before hand but I was running a SMT line and designed a board for a medical device, had to put a password system on it with a first boot flag to let it know if it was its 1st run. Well after I studied 100's of hours learning ASM and the chip, I wasn't in embedded stuff at the time, I was an call center admin. Well I was thrown the project spent my time in and out of the office on it and somehow managed to do it all. Well a month later the owners son gets out of jail. No tech experience at all. Was a mechanic previously. He shows up and I'm told he's now my boss and I'm supposed to teach him how to code for the PIC16LF877A and do all the hardware supoort for the project. I'm just thinking I have a 20 year tech background as a jack of all traits and it took me about a month of 80 hour weeks to catch up on the tech and do the changes. I tried my best to teach him but after 3 days he still didn't know the difference between a bit and a byte. Talk about set up for failure.
     
  9. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Join the Club
    We the following Representing
    Ft Lauderdale
    Tampa
    St Petersburg
    Orlando
    Maldives
    Athens (The real one in Greece!)
    and a bunch more. Where you at NE?
     
  10. SplitInfinity

    Member

    Mar 3, 2013
    369
    9
    Son...don't get down on yourself. A person has a tendency to forget about certain things pertaining to their job if...1. They don't tend to do that particular work often.
    2. Don't really like what they are doing so forget on purpose subconsciously.
    3. Aspire to do something that they feel they would be better at as well as happier.

    The very fact you are addressing your issue here means you are either in the #3 Group...or you really suck at your job.

    Now I don't think it is the later but rather a deep seated feeling that is telling you...I don't want to be 50 years old doing this!

    Perhaps you should look into professions that you can use the knowledge you have in another way?

    Split Infinity
     
  11. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    People here always wonder why I'm so grumpy, and it's becuase I've been dealing with this kind of crap for 20 years. Even now that I'm the senior engineer in my area, I still have to deal with huge, inflated egos. And I have to deal with all the newly minted engineers, who think just because they got good grades in college, they are god's give to engineering. Most don't know enough to pour water out of a boot, but they act as though the senior guys are out of touch. Hate to tell them, but I'll still be here after most of them wash out.

    Anyway, it never ends.

    Are you kidding? What you were given was an opportunity. Don't wast it (if it's not already too late) You might try and fail, but you will most assuredly learn something from the experience. And even if your current management doesn't care about what you learn, I guarantee you that someone will.

    Let me tell you a quick story. About 4 years ago, I was laid off after working for a decade for a telecom company. The layoff came at the peak of the great recession, and jobs were scarce. Most of the design I was doing had moved offshore, and that put even more downward pressure on my career. After a year, I landed a job working in a small design department. We were only about 7-8 people. During my 2 1/2 years there, I developed a number of products for our customers, and demonstrated them in the lab. However none of those products ever saw the light of day. There was one engineer who was the boss's pet, and he never completed a single project. But, he didn't want to see anyone else be successful, so each time I had a design done and working, he would convince the boss that I my efforts had failed to meet the design requirements. Now, the boss never attended any of my demonstrations, so he didn't have the knowledge to know better ( and didn't care either ) and so each time, he would pull my project and reassign it to his little pet. I would go on to develop and demonstrate the next product, only to repeat the process.

    In the end, the boss and his pet were fired, and I went on to work as an independent contractor. Even though the experience was maddening, I learned a ton from completing those numerous projects, and more importantly, was able to demonstrate to perspective clients that I have wide ranging experience, as evidenced by the number of design project I completed.

    So, get busy and get on the project. I know you won't get help there, but help is available. The internet is a great resource. Use it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013
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  12. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    This is why I always insisted on a specification in advance. And if one wasn't provided, I'd write it myself. And I'd refuse to begin the project till such a specification was available *and* signed off by both management and me.

    I would then turn the specification into a checklist for verification/validation at the end of the project. And each item would be tested, checked, and signed off.

    There was never any question as to whether my designs met the specs or not.
     
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  13. sonofptolemy

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 10, 2011
    13
    0
    maxpower, its a small world on the net. I'm going to keep that to myself for now :D

    SplitInfinity, you are very sharp for noticing that and laying it out like that. I dont know how old you are but I can only attribute that kind of breakdown of the situation as very wise and coming from life's experience. I would say that you are right about all 3 of those things here. #1 is definitely true. #2 is also true but its not that I dont like doing that particular thing, what I dont like is needing to work with things I have forgotten about. I feel like I owe it to myself not to forget, and when I have forgotten it, I have failed. That feeling of being a failure is compounded when others pounce on that weekness (thats how I feel). I treat others differently in that area. If I notice that anyone is straying from a principle regarding the subject at hand, I kindly remind them, no matter who they are. I seem to get the opposite treatment here, especially if I'm refreshing and have a question that goes back to basics, it reveals that I am refreshing it and exposes that weakness once again. So I avoid it. There are also some personal things I have in my past that has a lot to do with being scared of remembering but it has nothing to do with technology or anything like that, purely personal, a series of things that happened to me in my college years while I was maried that I would rather not think about. I think that may have some bearing on this situation. #3, I wish I could be great at Electronics, design wise and in troubleshooting, finding root cause, and applying principles. I want to understand it fully.

    Brownout, thanks for sharing that. I find that somewhat true here too but it goes beyond projects, a lot of times it goes for ideas too. I will say things that get shutdown as false almost immediately, only for it to be said by someone else months or even a year later which is taken to be whole heartedly true and that person is congratulated for it and given full credit for implementing it.

    Everything you guys are saying is helping me understand my avoidance because it helps me to see things in third person and also what I have internalized.

    The project I have been given is an immense opportunity. I avoid it a lot because I will have to review a lot of my electronics design. That exposes my weakness to the group. Also the tendency for my ideas to be rejected is another motive to avoid it because they will simply criticize because of who made it and not because of what it brings to the table.

    I need to change how I feel.

    Anyways, thanks! Forgive me for any stupid questions I may pose on the forum. Keeping my identity a secret will help me not to worry about posting such things. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013
  14. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    None of that would have mattered. Management was completely derelict.
    They never attended any of my design or requirement reviews. Only the other engineers attended. Myself and the other engineers tried to talk to our manager, but he was too arrogant to take any of our advise. He only wanted to work with one person in the department, and that person was incompetent.

    When I completed a design review, that became my specification. If I waited for a signoff from my manager, I'd still be waiting.
     
  15. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    To better illustrate my points, a little while ago, one of the other senior engineers on my project walks into my cube and demands, "What do you know about A/D converters?" I turn away from my work to face him, and I'm wondering what he really wants to know. Surely he isn't interested in everything I know about it, so I ask, "Pertaining to what?" Then he grunts and walks away. Screw him. It he wants my advice, he'll need to learn to be professional, and leave his issues at home.

    Like I said, it never ends.
     
  16. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    There was an opportunity for you to showcase your talents. "pertaining to what" could have been "Do you have an application in mind that requires an A/D converter?"

    You might have had a longer that five second conversation with the manager and gain some insight to his inquiry. Instead, your challenge towards him, and his towards you, is just a urinating contest. You don't need that petty garbage going on. It only upsets both of you.
     
  17. Brownout

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    Jan 10, 2012
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    If he took that as a challenge, then he has issues I can't do anything about. I'm way too busy to play mind games.
     
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