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Where do I go from my current job?

Where do I go from my current job?

Where do I go from my current job?

(OP)
5 years’ experience + 1 year intern, 3 in current role as "Electrical Engineer".

I was the first hire into a new department after my boss. We are meant to standardise electrical engineering maintenance across the company, then centralise it. I work for a big company with 15,000 employees but everything is on one site where each building does everything its own way, with its own designers, maintainers, and engineers.

I think I am ready for a new job but I am not sure I have done a lot of "proper" engineering and have really spent the last 3 years doing pretty much everything else. My boss got my promotion in post approved recently but mention the rest of the committee thought "I hadn't delivered anything".

I am anxious that I lack the "experience" to move into a more senior engineering role, but if that is the case then I am not sure what else I should be doing.

Examples of stuff I have done includes:
- Develop a standardised maintenance regime for common bits of kit, then started to persuade plants to adopt it. About 1/3 currently do.
- Built a companywide picture of the condition of safety and process critical electrical assets, then used it to shame people into fixing things. One example is 48% of backup power supplies would not work. Nobody knew this before. 3 years later only 20% will not work!
- I built a big Excel database of our backup power supplies which I update by interviewing plant engineers every 3 months, I then produce a "dashboard" with pie charts of shame
- I spot patterns and trends nobody else does by getting plant engineers to talk to me and keeping a companywide perspective. For instance, I found out our designers keep forgetting to adjust protection to suit more efficient motors, and basically none of our fitters know how to align a transmission belt. I found people were quietly turning up motor protection settings without making a record of it when motors became faulty instead of reporting it.
- I write PowerShell scripts to analyse data from our CMMS because the data quality on there is rubbish. I just download it as a spreadsheet and write my own queries.
- I do whole lifecycle costing which nobody else does. I used this to build business cases for stuff like regenerative load banks and replacing 1000+ motor transmission belts with VSDs.
- I help my boss set our annual and long-term strategy. I usually write the strategy for the year and he stamps his name on it.
- Designed the site power factor correction when we shut our power plant off and start importing from the grid next year.
- Argue with and persuade people a lot. Nobody *has* to tell me anything or follow my advice; a lot of engineers try to hide things so I either have to work to gain their trust, or sometimes when I'm annoyed I just call bullshit and wait for them to break or prove me wrong.
- Found a 20-year-old UPS running at 100C with leaking capacitors, argued with the plant engineer that it was unsafe, eventually gave up and mailed the safety people who agreed with me.
- Noticed that a big company refused to visit, which kept stalling various projects that did not talk to each other. Got in touch with an important person in the projects department who changed future to not involve that company.

I have done more, but how much of it is worth mentioning idk. I am not even sure if what I have mentioned is worth mentioning!

I usually think about technical problems but to get anything done I have to go through a lot of people. My boss is good because he coaches me through the internal politics. I could probably learn a lot more in my current role, although I am afraid it is mostly just company knowledge.

I complained to my boss about not doing much "real" engineering a year ago. He sent me on switching courses for UPSes, LV and HV switchgear, but because we are not responsible for any plants, I am just sitting on the qualifications with no real route to becoming an "Appointed Person" in charge of switching.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

It looks like you have a good resume for a first job. Have you done "real engineering"? That is a subjective term. Where do you go from here? If I am a hiring manager looking at your resume, I see a lot that pertains to Industrial Engineering and Electrical Engineering. I am also thinking your real resume, with your educational credentials, lends itself to either or both of these. Never underestimate yourself. Shop for a job that interests you and tailor your resume to fit that job description, tweaking around the skills and experience you just described. Best wishes.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

(OP)
Cheers for the reply.

When I say "real engineering" I mean things like (but not exclusively) designing, or fault-finding, commissioning, complex switching.

Although I push change designs (eg VSDs) or the way we maintain things, I only present the case, and then designers or maintenance people make the changes and follow the new process. When I find out people are systematically frigging protection settings, I get to write "toolbox talks", for whatever they're worth.

What I currently find really interesting is understanding how to squeeze the most money out of assets, since I think my current employer is wasteful. I'm also really interested in CMMSes since ours is pretty awful.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

Research companies in industries that appear suited to your interests and in areas that will further your growth. Send detailed resumes that reflect the needs of the companies to which you apply. When you get an invite for an interview, interview the interviewers as much as they interview you.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

I think you have much experience in this industry. Why don't you think of starting a new business? For this, you have to research well and contact with some experienced persons in this industry. The company will produce rules and regulations with the interest of the managing directors. So, you should never expect a response in favor of your opinions. The best strategy to become successful in our life is researching, learning by experience, understanding, and starting up. Reading your post, I understood that you are well qualified person, and you can offer the best to your clients.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

You have done more real engineering than most "Real" engineers.

Many so called "real" engineers spend their time going to meetings, working on budgets, writing and reading reports, stamping designs that some one else has done, looking for business, and managing personnell. Whereas you are dealing with multiple real world problems everyday in software, hardware and meatware.

If where you are pays okay and continues to challenge you why not stay with it, but try to move up a notch- 20% of UPS don't work to 5% of UPS don't work etc.

Regards
Ashtree
"Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money"

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

I wouldn't lament or belittle a lack of design engineering experience at this point, you're still a fairly fresh junior engineer and bouncing around to find one's own happy niche is common early in a career. If you wanted to speak to your experience and were a ME, I'd expect to hear terms and titles like industrial, process, or facilities engineer. Every significant industrial site has them so be proud of your accomplishments. To answer your question directly tho, follow your interests and don't be afraid to relocate. There's a big fascinating world out there, and you have the education to explore it. Leaving home and family is tough but there isn't a day goes by that I regret living my life instead of theirs.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

Over the years, I kept notes for each project, mostly on scraps of paper that I filed and eventually lost.
Sometimes I wish I had access to that old information.
Rather late in my career, I began recording my notes in .txt files, one for each project, and an overall chron file for each year.
The notes allow me to reconstruct some idea of what I was doing at a given time, especially in the past.
Occasionally they even help in external disputes, like when a yacht owner's agent was making noise about how we didn't tell him something, and I was able to provide an email I had sent, and my notes about it, and that calmed him down a bit.

I keep the notes on my own media, e.g. a thumbdrive that stays in my pocket, not only on my employer's premises.
;--

The second guy who fired me (don't worry, you'll get used to it), in the exit interview, bemoaned that I had never submitted a 'design report', a document I had never heard of, much less seen an examplar.
Much later, I was asked to understand some programmable calculator code and verify that it did what it was supposed to. I really got into it, and produced a detailed report including the source code line by line, with an explanation of what it did, how it did it, what algorithms it was following, and at the end, a simple answer to the simple question that had started the whole exercise. The questioner had expected a mere post-it note, but was pleased with the extra effort.

In retrospect, I wish I had prepared, if not submitted, a report of some sort for every project, regardless of size, despite criticism from short-sighted managers about 'typing' instead of 'working'.

;--

In your case, your first message provides the outline of a really good resume. Hang onto it, and use it when you need to. Better, produce a resume now, and keep it up to date. You never know when you'll need it, fast.






Mike Halloran
Corinth, NY, USA

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

(OP)
Afternoon,

TYVM for all the replied - it's appreciated. I feel a little more confident reading them.

I have been job searching and have some interviews coming up for "Senior Engineer" roles at threee different firms, all in about the £60k range. These are mostly design roles, so I'm a little nervous because I haven't produced drawings since I left university, and I haven't internalised any BS EN or company design standards!

Although I was "Engineer" when I wrote my OP I have been promoted to "Lead Engineer", although the paperwork went AWOL during lockdown. I've explained the situation to recruiters and covering letters and so far employers seem pretty interested.

I would love to contract and turn it into my own real business over time - I have asked recruiters to help me find local contracting roles, and so far I am being considered for "Lead Pre Ops" and "Electrical Engineering Delivery Manager" roles which pay about £45 an hour (which I gather is quite low for contracting - but it's better than what I have now, and I have to start somewhere, right?).

At the moment I am on £38k and when I finally get "Lead" at my current employer I'll be on £42k. My employer has been pretty clear that it considers this an "above average" engineering wage, but based on the responses from employers I wonder if I've been gaslighted.

Since my OP I've been phoned a few times by senior people at the company who said I'm the "only" person in the firm they know who has properly got their head around electricity pricing and how to deliver electrical efficiency improvements after our local CHP is decommissioned within the year, so perhaps there is a big opportunity there as well.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

42k sounds like a ridiculously low pay level.

Dont ask “recruiters” for contracting or consulting roles. They only get paid to put you into a position and are worse than HR (if that’s possible) re looking out for your interests. If you are interested in contracting look for contracting firms in your field. And don’t tell them your current pay level.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

(OP)
Is £42k low for the UK or outside the UK? My employer insists it's above average. I think the different figures you can find online are of questionable quality.

RE: Where do I go from my current job?

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