Here is my reply to a recent IEEE article “Are Engineers Really in Demand?” The authors posed this question in response to a recent Washington Post story that discussed unemployment among engineers. Being a geek myself, I was intrigued.
What disturbed me, however, were the comments that followed. Way too much griping about how the government, big business, or foreigners (H1B visas) were to blame. Whoa! What happened to being responsible for your own career?
So here was my response:
Lot’s of complaining here. Let me offer an alternate (more positive) view.
After being laid off twice early in my career, I decided to hang out my shingle as a consulting engineer. After 30+ years (25 in full time practice,) I can say it has been great. The technical work is interesting, the pay is better, and the respect is even better yet. Not only that, as you get older, the perception is that your experience is even more valuable — rather refreshing.
The down side is that you no longer have the “security” of a company behind you. But as most of us know, that is a myth anyway. In fact, with consulting it is quite the opposite — no one client can put me out of business.
But you DO need to hustle for the business, something that frightens many engineers. I just look at getting new business as another technical challenge. After all, we’re supposed to be problem solvers, right?
Frankly, I wish more engineers would adopt the mindset of working for themselves, rather than depending on the corporate bean counters for sustenance. If doctors, lawyers, and accountants can be in practice for themselves, why not engineers?
Food for thought. Finally, if you are considering this, get your PE license. You’ll need it to open some doors. Then start hustling — you might be pleasantly surprised with the results. I’ve certainly enjoyed my way of practicing engineering. Good luck!
The results? A bit disappointing. One troll did respond with a rather bizarre comment “… You escape for now. The giant vampire squid of capital is seeking the small leaks next…” Huh? Missed the point, or really bitter I guess.
But I shall remain positive. If you are reading this, you are presumably not willing to depend on “the man” to give you a job. Creating your own can be a satisfying alternative — consulting or otherwise. You have my encouragement…
P.S. Will do a talk on consulting at the Start Your Own Business Workshop this Saturday in Chandler AZ. The workshop is sponsored by LaidOffCamp, a great program for those who have lost their jobs.
Who knows — maybe we’ll even help launch some new consultants!
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