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Career crisis

Career crisis

Career crisis

Hey, I am in the middle of an career crisis. Everything started two years ago when I was looking for an internship to validate my MS in Mechanical Engineering (5 years diploma, in France) and my one-year diploma in Fluid Dynamics, Energies and Transfers. I found a very nice internship at Renault in the department of acoustics (still in France, Paris area), let's say it was a one-life opportunity because situation was quite bad for interns and I got a good one in a very big and important company while other couldn't even find one. I took it, then, after my 6 months in acoustics and test engineering I looked for a job.

At this point I didn't think that having done my internship in automotive industry and at that department will mark me as "Test Engineer in Automotive (only)" or as "Acoustic Engineer", so I was there, looking for a job, applying to job offers I liked instead of those I was a good candidate for. I was very very lucky and got two job offers, one as Business Developer in a testing company and another one in Appli or Electronic Components Validation at Renault (but hired by an outsourcing company, Altran). Well, I chose wrong and the job at Altran was a mess, they asked me to validate thousands of things and there was nothing of engineering in it. :/

Then, after two months there I left and then looked for another job. At this point I am pretty much the automotive guy, no matter what. So, of course I found nothing but a job in automotive as Test Engineer at Renault. I worked there for 1 year and after Covid-19 my company (also outsourcing) went to bankruptcy. I got fired and now I am looking for a job and very very confused. Btw, I have time to find a job as in France we get paid while looking for a job.

So, my actual situation:
a) I regret I didn't choose that Business Developer job offer I had. I am afraid I will make the same mistake next.
b) I want to find for something business related because I want to know more about it so I can create my company easier later. You know, I wish I knew more about taxes, business strategies, marketing, etc.
c) But also I don't want to do something purely commercial and loose all my technical knowledge I worked hard to have. But I think that if I work for something very technical like a job in nuclear industry I won't be able to develop my career overseas in a future, I will be married to a nuclear reactor and its village, for example. I don't want to cut my knowledge and my possibilities to move in the future.

1. Do you think that Business Development is a good job position if in the future I would like to create my own company? Or isn't that helpful for that?
2. Do you think that choosing something very specific will cut my possibilities in the future and I will have to stay in the same place for the rest of my life?
3. Is it like that in your countries? You work in something and then you have problems to change of field.
4. Did someone of you have this kind of career crisis and didn't know what to do? How was it? Did you find the right way to go or at least a good one?
5. Any other useful comment about my situation would be useful. I know some of you have a lot of experience or even if you don't I will be interested in your opinion.

Thanks in advance guys and let me know if you didn't understand something, tried to be enough clear without making it too long :)

Edit : Thank you for your answers! They are really helpful. I wanted to say that, perhaps I didn't explain it very well. I have a background in Industrial Management too and with my degree in engineering I am part of the candidates for this kind of business development jobs which sometimes are very technique. Also, some of them are looking for junior engineers (2-3 years of experience, sometimes even beginners), I already analyzed my possibilities and that's why I also got a job offer for this type of job two years ago. I am not pretending or wanting to be a project manager or something like that requiring 10 years of experience or even more. :)

RE: Career crisis


So my guess is that you're now about 25?

We all have skills and aptitudes for different things, the trick is to get someone to pay you for using those.

If you're confused then so am I. You spent 5 years pursuing a technical and fairly specialised course and actually have been working there for ~2 years including the intern bit. Two years is a dangerous time period because it marks you down as that and then companies want to buy that experience, not basically some new graduate who knows nothing about business development (aka Selling). You might need to go and get some other course such as the dreaded MBA or something like that in order to persuade someone you are serious.

You talk about starting a company. doing what? Making something? Selling a service? Fine in theory, but in practice takes a lot of effort and money.

The only advice I normally give out is that you need to be very careful about your first couple of years because they mark you then for many years to come.

The only thing I can suggest is that you look into the roles involved in technical sales for companies where your knowledge is an asset in understanding a product or service and giving you the technical knowledge to respond to queries, tenders and enquiries and then move up the ladder in the business side of that particular company. A large / huge company like Renault doesn't sound like the right place to me.

I got lucky - the first place I went to work after 6 months I decided it was fun, enjoyable and paid reasonably well and I've been doing it all my working life. Discovered that the management / business development side wasn't me so gradually carved out a role as technical manager. A lot of business development is hard work for little reward and mostly doesn't use the skills you've spent 5+ years developing. The thing you need to ask yourself is from the other side - why would someone want to hire me compared to someone who's spent 4 or 5 years doing a business related course and probably now has internships and starter jobs doing just that. If you can't answer that then you'll never be able to persuade anyone else, that is if you make it to the point where you get to speak to a human.

So no easy answers I'm afraid.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Career crisis

Hey LittleInch,

Thank you for your answer.

I am 23 and yes, I get your point.

I didn't write it but when I say Business Developer is a technical/commercial job and as engineers in France we are part of the candidates they are recruiting for that kind of job, as well as some MBA graduates. And yes, I was thinking about a medium size or small company so I can do more than just what my job description says, when I was at Renault I couldn't do anything else but what I was supposed to do because of the confidentiality and their way of partitioning/organizing the work.

When I talk about starting my own company I mean it in general, I have lots of ideas but I want to wait some years so I can also have an economic base such as a saving account to lay on in case it wouldn't work at all. Maybe now I have 5 or 6 idea for a company, most of them are creating and selling a product.

I would love to know, what were the feelings or thoughts you had when you realized that work is for you and you're really happy with it? What was and is on your mind that tells you so?

And congratulations, I am happy and it encourages me to see people happy at work!

RE: Career crisis

You sound like many fresh graduates - far ahead of yourself. No disrespect intended but in reality 1. you know little/nothing of engineering at this point in your career and 2. are not a great candidate for what is commonly referred to as the management path/ladder due to both lack of experience and lack of a business degree. Typically roles like product definition, business development, technical marketing, etc are reserved for senior engineers with a decade or three of experience and a business degree as they're making big promises to customers which often involve pushing the capabilities of the rest of the organization. JMO, but I would recommend finding a traditional engineering role in a niche you enjoy and focusing on learning the engineering side, in 10-20 years you might know enough of engineering to jump over to the management path. Until then remain humble and work hard, suck it up and stay in one job/role/chair 3-5 years before jumping elsewhere or you will appear flaky to most (as you do now). My other bit of standard advice to junior engineers is to spend at least a decade at a mega-corp like Renault for the experience and training. The unfortunate reality of small companies is that they lack both technical capability and organization, so their employees get little/no engineering, engineering process, project management, or other training and thus will always be at a disadvantage applying for jobs vs their mega-corp veteran peers.

RE: Career crisis

I'm in a different industry, but there are some parallels. I have to agree with CWB1 on his statement regarding spending time in a mega-corp. Since getting my degree and starting work, I've really only been part of small companies or within quasi-independent departments of large companies that operated as if they were small companies. I've had a few very large firms attempt to recruit me in the last year. There are myriad reasons I don't take them up on it, but one of them is the fact that I'm a little intimidated by the prospect. Do I think that I'm equal to the task technically? You bet. Do I think I can join a large team and work effectively? Yes (before University I spent 6 years in the military doing O&M engineering - lots of good experience on large teams there). But merging the two skill sets - managing structural engineering problems, tasks, and projects in the way that these mega-firms do business - I'm not sure how well I'd adjust.

But there's a flipside - I've seen folks who come from the mega-firm mindset and try to make it at a small "mom-and-pop" shop...and they fail miserably because they either can't keep up with the pace, the diversity, the tighter budgets, or a combination of those.

You need to figure out if you're dynamic enough to move across the small but often insurmountable barriers within your industry, and if you are you need to find a way to develop those skills. If you aren't (and, let's face it, the chances of any of us being one of them is slim - we'd have lots of CEOs running around and no worker bees if it weren't true), then pick a lane, put your nose to the grind stone, and build a successful career you can still be quite proud of.

RE: Career crisis

For some perspective, Elon Musk says business managers need to focus on engineering and get there hands dirty, not just all these ridiculous endless meetings.

Working on some real engineering problems will make you much more valuable than "business development" experience, even if you want to get into business development. Solving real problems in the engineering capacity is generally most respected. There is no such thing a pigeon ho

Now if you want to get into "business development", the real talent for that is personality coupled with technical skills that any real engineer could learn rather quickly.

First, I recommend you calm down and just get out there and work on stuff. Second, Your past experience sounds great, it is a good story to tell other employers.

Also, you studied engineering, so it would look bad if you didn't get a job in engineering first anyways.

RE: Career crisis

When I read the thread title, I was thinking someone in the 40s or 50s; you are way too young be having a true career crisis, short of finding out that you actually hate engineering and should have majored in art, or somesuch.

I wouldn't sweat your past decisions; that's ancient history, or will be. I spent about 8 years dodging going into a subdiscipline that I thought was not going to be interesting, particularly since it had little to do with what I thought I wanted to do and what I majored in. 30 years later, it was the best move made for me, and I'm doing things I love to do.

see: https://www.danpink.com/2013/05/the-6-essential-le... Daniel Pink wrote pretty good book about this very subject: https://www.danpink.com/books/johnny-bunko/
The 6 essential lessons of a satisfying, productive career
JBunkoSmallJust in time for graduation season, Johnny Bunko is here to remind you of the 6 essential lessons of any satisfying, productive career:


1. There is no plan.
Make decisions for fundamental, not instrumental, reasons.

2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
What do you consistently do well? What gives you energy rather than drains it?

3. It’s not about you.
The most successful people improve their own lives by improving others’ lives.

4. Persistence trumps talent.
There are massive returns to doggedness.

5. Make excellent mistakes.
Commit errors from which the benefits of what you’ve learned exceed the costs of the screw-up.

6. Leave an imprint.
Recognize that your life isn’t infinite and that you should use your limited time here to do something that matters.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Career crisis


A lot of people keep doing something because of money but every year they do that thing, they lost one year of what they could have been doing. Life is too short to waste it for money.

RE: Career crisis

To paraphrase Marie Kondo, "If your job doesn't give you joy, you probably should switch jobs"

We engineers are blessed in having sufficient wherewithal to change careers and potentially have jobs that bring joy, unlike less fortunate ones that can only work for a living.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Career crisis

Amen IR.

RE: Career crisis

Quote (, then pick a lane, put your nose to the grind stone,)

I remember that... Eye on the ball, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone... now try to work in that position...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?


RE: Career crisis

Everything is relative. I enjoy engineering but if not for money I wouldn’t do it 50/week, nor spend that much time on anything else for that matter.

RE: Career crisis

CarlosRG, I understand that feeling but I think you are too young to see yourself pigeonholed as "automotive" guy.

It will only be like that if you want it to be.
Almost my entire career has been in Operation and Maintenance, sometimes more on technical side but mostly on management side and in 5 different industries until now (maybe this one is my last stint, but who knows?), from automotive (components) to hospitality passing through chemicals.
Did I planned it this way? No, I just took the opportunities that life presented to me and that looked good at that moment.
I also had my fair share of luck, on being on the right place at the right time and some times either not being accepted to positions in companies that a couple of years later went belly up or not accepting offers on companies that didn't "smell" good...

I'm a pretty generalist engineer mainly on mechanical side (HVAC and Pumbling&Drainage, Kitchen&Laundry equipment) but as someone already mentioned before, the beauty of our profession is that the knowledge breadth that gives us, allow us (if we want) to work anywhere in the world and in a wide range of industries.

Remember that the laws of physics and mathematics are universal.

Good luck with your search, but don't forget that luck gives a lot of work...

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