I thought I was pretty sharp back in '82 with my new engineering technology degree. Here I am world, I thought. As singer Rod Stewart put it once: "Look how wrong you can be."
According to this graph, http://rbi.ims.ca/4402-538, unemployment in those years hovered around 10 percent, meaning that if you were a graduating engineer you had to be pretty good for a company like GE to notice you. I remember the company's post outside the NJIT placement office: No Engineering Technology Majors, or something to that effect. It was nothing personal, of course, just a buyer's market. But what did I know then of the business cycle?
I still walk right on past the GE appliances at Home Depot. It's nothing personal, of course.
At any rate, I learned about want ads and adjusted my dream of a career to the more pedestrian version: finding a job. And eventually, I did. To this day, I look at want ads with nearly the same fervor that others read the sports pages. Every few Sundays or so I'll read through the classified listings for engineers. Window shopping, really.
I was recently struck by how many engineering jobs were listed in the New York Times. Two or three column's worth, I recall. Through the years, NYC seemed a better place to go if you were in advertising or finance (or an editor, God help you) than if you were an engineer. The paper's classifieds usually reflected that. If you wanted real engineering work you'd stick to ads in, say, the Newark Star-Ledger.
I have it on good source that classified ads are up too in another engineering publication. Could the boom times be here, again?
If they are, then here's my idea for helping you engineers out there with honest-to-goodness careers take your next step.
They're called RSS feeds, something the editors here at Design News have been asked to look at lately. They are one of the Web's latest inventions, supposedly an easy way to monitor the coming of new materials onto your favorite websites.
Wouldn't it be cool if the jobs you qualified for came to you? Let's say you wanted to work at Boeing and had specific experience in—I don't know—radar imaging. You'd set up your RSS feed to filter the Boeing employment site as well as any others you were interested in monitoring. The whole process could be quick and painless and you'd no longer have to spend Sundays thumbing through the broadsheets.
Of course, the generic employment sites already do this. At monster.com, for example, you can subscribe to an RSS feed here, http://rbi.ims.ca/4402-539, and be apprised of all the engineering jobs in the Dallas area, say.
My problem with these sites is that they seem like factory trawlers: wide nets looking to scoop up everything in the sea. As a job seeker, I'm more apt to bite on a single hook hanging off a solitary line.
I'm looking for a company that has real work and needs someone qualified for doing it to come on staff right away. So this goes out to you hiring firms out there. Post your specific jobs on an RSS link. We've got engineers that can actually do what's been promised, after all the lunches and dinners have been expensed and the contractual arrangements worked out through legal: you know, guys who actually design things and build them and make them work.
They may not be particularly good at networking, any social skill they had having been wrung from them in engineering school. Just make it simple for them to find you. From my money, that's RSS. What could be easier?
Reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org