Monthly Archives: June 2016

On Not Being a Good Corporate Rat… the Interview…

Even at a young age, it was becoming apparent that I was not destined to be a good corporate rat. I just didn’t realize it at the time…

As a junior in Electrical Engineering, it was time to interview for a summer job. Rather important, for if successful, you would likely receive a full time job offer upon graduation.

It also increased your attractiveness to other companies. Plus you made a few bucks, always of interest to a college student.

Interviews were a new experience, and I was still trying to figure out the game. Fortunately, most of the interviews were simple — you talked about the company, the potential job, and what the company was seeking.

But then came the BIG interview, with the BIG prestigious firm. An industry leader with world famous labs and technology. Landing a job with them was a real plum.

Or so I thought. The interview started badly, and went down hill from there.

Rather than an engineering manager, the interviewer was a young HR lackey in a three piece suit. It was apparent he was pretty full of himself. Trust me, that sort of snotty attitude never sits well with engineers – including student engineers. (We don’t suffer fools.)

The interview began with the first of three questions. They were designed, the lackey assured me, to see if there was a “fit.” Here is how it went:

HR – “So what did you ever do that made you feel good?”

Me – “Say what?”

HR – “You know, something that gave you a sense of accomplishment.”

Me – (In my head – OK, I’ll play your silly game.) “Well, there was a class I was not interested in and and was on the verge of failing. So I dug in, worked hard, and ended up with a B. It was very satisfying.”

HR – “Wonderful.” Then after jotting some notes, he said, “What else?”

Me – To this day, I can’t believe what I said next. Something just snapped in my head. “Well, there was this girl once…” I had nothing specific in mind, but I was just pissed.

HR – “Oh, I didn’t mean to be personal…”

Me – Twisting the knife, I added, “That’s OK – I felt pretty good about it.”

HR – “Uh, let’s just move into the technical details.”

Me – “Good idea.”

Later, my engineering buddies were all grousing about the three dumb questions.

Me – “What three dumb questions? I was asked only one.” Then I told them what I said.

Buddies – “You didn’t really say that, did you?”

Me – “Sure did. And I have no regrets.”

The result – several buddies got summer engineering jobs. I got to spend the summer parking cars in the hot sun. So much for getting a head start on my engineering career.

Now for the second chapter. When the same company appeared on campus next fall,  I didn’t even bother to sign up for an interview. Based on the first interview, I figured there was no way they were interested in me.

But I was wrong. Not only was my GPA pretty good, but I suspect somebody actually liked my answer. Showed some spunk and originality.

So I got a call inviting me to interview, preceded by a steak dinner for all the interviewees. As a college student, I could be had for a free steak dinner. So I went, dinner and all.

The second interview started similar to the first. Another young self-important HR lackey in another three piece suit.

But upon opening my folder, he paused and said,

“Perhaps we should dispense with the preliminaries, and move right into the technical details.”

“Good idea,” I said, trying to read some scribbled notes upside down.

In spite of my non-conformist attitude, I did get a job offer. But I turned it down, as it was obvious to me I simply wasn’t going to “fit” their culture. Probably a good decision for all.

So looking back, it makes sense that I ended up as a self-employed consultant. Not the best choice for everyone, but it sure was for me. And if you share my independent approach to life, maybe the best for you too!

P.S. Celebrating seven decades on the planet today. Been a great ride with no big regrets. And very glad I made MY JumpToConsulting several decades back.

So I hope you enjoyed this personal anecdote — it is who I am 🙂

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

From the mailbag – Do I need client insurance?

This question arrived today from a friend and engineering consulting colleague.  Once in a while a company will request a “General Liability” insurance certificate.

Hi Daryl,

I’ve run into this requirement (client insurance) a handful of times. Most companies don’t ask for it, but some are asking to be named on my insurance policy. Do you know the reason why they might want that?

Here is my response. The beautiful irony is that just today my “General Liability” insurance was cancelled, after 20 years with no claims, and zero probability of a future claim.

As far as I know, there is no good reason (but I’m not an attorney.)  Rather, it is the result of good lobbying by the insurance industry.

We ran into that a few times. The request was usually for “General Liability”, not “Professional Liability.” The former covers things like driving you car into their lobby. The latter covers “errors and omissions.”

If you have a GL policy, ask for a certificate naming the client. It’s just a piece of paper, and should cost nothing.

Do you really need a GL policy?  I don’t think so. We went without a policy for many years.

But after fighting it a few times and to save time, Bill and I caved in and got a GL policy — about $1000/year for both of us. Upon our attorney’s advice, we never carried PL, since EMC has such a low risk.

If we had been doing product safety, we would have carried PL too.

The IEEE has both, but when I last checked, they would not sell the GL alone. We got our policy through a broker.

When Bill passed away, they reduced the premium to $500, so I renewed it. A total waste of money in my opinion, but still easier than fighting about it. Haven’t had a request for several years now.

As a coincidence, just today I got a certified letter canceling my General Liability insurance.

Seems some underwriter visited my web site, and panicked when they saw “medical devices, vehicular electronics, military systems, industrial controls, etc.” Even though the web site clearly states I no longer consult, but only do training.

My guess is some bureaucrat with no common sense did this. Probably their chance to make a “big decision.” But a stupid decision, as it was easy money for them.

As an side, my older son started with Hartford (the carrier) right out of college. He left in less than a year. Like his dad, he has a low tolerance for petty bureaucrats.

My plan is to forget the insurance. If somebody insists on it, my response will be to either waive the requirement of find somebody else.

Before getting insurance, I did that several times with success. I found that engineering VPs/directors/managers can and will override purchasing if they really want you, and need to do so.

And if they don’t want you, do you really want to do business with them?

Don’t want you to think I’m a jerk about these things. As a rule, I go out of my to be polite and professional.

But at the same time, I don’t let petty bureaucrats intimidate me. Neither should you.

As always, check with your attorney and/or accountant.  We carried General Liability insurance for many years, simply because it was easier to do so than argue about it.

But other than saving time, it was a waste of money. We never lost any business when we did not have it.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.