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Ideas to ask boss

Ideas to ask boss

Ideas to ask boss


I'm a process engineer in the semiconductor industry (dry etch). I have had this role for 1.5 years after finishing my MS. My manager is great. In one-on-one conversations he frequently asks me if there is anything I need / anything he can get or do for me / anything that would make my job easier or better. I'm getting tired of saying "No, I'm OK." I suspect he might be tired of that answer too. It's not the most ambitious or innovative response. I feel like I should be taking advantage of this somehow but I don't know where to start.

Anyone have any ideas on types of things a fairly new engineer might request from their boss in these conversations?


RE: Ideas to ask boss

Training opportunities. Extension courses.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-'Product Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Definitely what JRB indicated. I don't really have much else to add. Although if you have anything you're lacking in terms of office supplies that would be a nice to have item (larger circle templates, more scales, perhaps a sliderule) that is also a good time to ask.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

New and more challenging opportunities within the company? I'm not in your industry so I'm not sure what those would be.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

What is your vision for your current and future roles in the company? Lay out what you need to achieve these things.

If it's just about you, you won't likely get much. If it's about your company, you'll get more.

If it goes well, you will be able to show that you have more value, and thus worth more.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Could you automate some of your, or other Engineer's, routine tasks/calculations? If so, ask for Python and self-learn it or go to a class.

Good Luck,

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Relevant trade show or industry conference attendance.

Is there really nothing about any of the processes that you are responsible that could be improved? There is no way to reduce defects? No opportunity to improve throughput? No possible efficiency improvements? No repetitive problems that occur? Nothing that machine operators or maintainers gripe to you about?

"Boss, I'd like your support to explore the feasibility of improving [something], and if the payback looks good, implementing it."

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Are you thinking of registering with a professional engineering body? I have no way to judge if that's of value where you work, so it's just a guess.
If having registered P.Eng on staff is of value to your company, then perhaps your company would support your EIT and ultimate P.Eng. registration. In industries where it matters, both sides can benefit.

Please remember: we're not all rednecks!

RE: Ideas to ask boss

As a process engineer, you presumably have the charter to engineer the dry etch process; you can make it better, faster, or cheaper, or any combination of them. The end goal for a process fab is to get the highest yield at the lowest cost. If you aren't thinking along those lines, then you're just a process tech and not an engineer.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Ideas to ask boss

Software or other tools and possibly training for those. Things that will make you more productive, but also more marketable.

A while ago i got upgraded from two 27" to two 42" 4K monitors. Best thing ever. Motorized standing desk. Better chair.

Remote work and flexible work time.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Training Training is a good idea. I didn't put enough effort into statistics in college and I regret that now. We occasionally get a 2 or 3 hour workshop with one of our software providers that helps a little. I know the company only pays for college classes if they count towards a degree. I can't justify needing a third degree at the moment and I'm working long hours. Workshops from a half day up to around a week might be more feasible. Any recommendations on good statistics training? (especially involving design of experiment)

Challenging Work I was on a slow project my first year and asked for more challenging work - now I'm struggling to keep up. It's a good ask, but it will be a while before I am ready to ask again.

Vision and Goals This would be a great ask. It's also a tough one to meaningfully layout. I need to do a better job of following big picture industry news.

Process Improvement I work in an R&D environment so this is 60-70% of my job. We have a principal engineer with 25 years experience that is a great resource. I'm getting better at framing questions so I can get advice without him just telling me the answer.

Trade shows and Conferences This is one my boss requests from me. The rules are that I have to present a poster or give a talk, but I'm not sure where to start. It's tricky because our customer owns a lot of the data we collect.

P.E License Not so important in my field. Semiconductor is probably above average in terms of number of engineers with a degree in science rather than engineering.

Software I'll ask about installing python - I know we have some security restrictions about running scripts aside from VBA and JMP. My manager probably is a good starting point if I can propose a couple ways I could benefit from it.

2x 42" monitors sounds amazing.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Ha, yeah, asking for challenging work - be careful what you wish for smile

and for trade shows, they only benefit you if you are the one observing, not the one presenting.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Quote (Bruce M.)

Trade shows and Conferences This is one my boss requests from me. The rules are that I have to present a poster or give a talk, but I'm not sure where to start. It's tricky because our customer owns a lot of the data we collect.

Are you sure you're understanding the rules correctly? If I attend a conference, it's requested I give a talk/presentation... to my fellow company employees, not at the conference. If they're sending me to a conference, they want the most bang for the buck, which means I spread a little learned knowledge to the rest of the team. If you can't present a 15-minute talk to colleagues on what you learned at a conference, you shouldn't be attending in the first place.

And if your boss doesn't want you to attend the occasional conference to see what the industry as a whole is up to, they may not be looking out for their employees the way they should be (i.e., start looking for healthier opportunities).

Dan - Owner

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Many conferences have "Poster sessions". In context a "poster" is a set of printed PowerPoint slides of a non-peer reviewed paper, taped to the wall of a conference room.

Conference attendees walk through and pretend to be interested in some of the posters.

Poster presenters try not to cry.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Guffaw. Thanks Mint...too true. And a reason I avoided trade shows and conferences except as an attendee (and occasional co-author).

RE: Ideas to ask boss

On another note, you can always ask for a salary raise...bigcheeks

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Ask for negative feedback. Few people ever do - and the ones that do are, in my experience, always top performers who want to know exactly how they can either step their game up, or remain top performers.

Odds are good your boss will be impressed. It doesn't have to be self deprecating - frame it as "I feel we have a good working relationship, and that I'm doing well, but I want to continue to improve my skills and contribute to the team. What am I currently doing that I could do better, or what am I not doing now that I should be looking at learning??"

RE: Ideas to ask boss

I like SwinnyGG's answer, it's something I do a couple times a year. I more frequently ask my peers after wrapping up a project or sustained collaboration on something if they could offer an constructive criticism for/about me. I've only had one person tell me they'd not answer and the rest were willing and able to give me genuinely useful feedback. Your manager is probably asking those same people how you're doing so you can get the info straight from the source.

RE: Ideas to ask boss

Lots of good ideas. To add, one I did was cross train. A rotation of position every 3/6 months on a 18 month stint or so. It gives you and idea of how the different functions operate and co-mingle, while letting you experience different challenges. In construction this was design, field engineering, startup, inspections, contracts, etc. Check if there is something like that there, maybe under the same division, but different roles.

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