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In this episode, Chris and Jeff discuss engineers who find employment on a project-to-project basis, rather than signing on for a full time job.

  • Our guest is Stephen Kesich, a recently graduated mechatronics engineer who is now residing in Southern California.
  • Stephen reports that his classmates experienced difficulty finding full-time employment in their respective engineering fields.
  • Knowledge of specific CAD software, such as CATIA or SolidWorks, is often important in landing a job in the field of mechanical design.
  • Networking played a key role in helping Stephen find employment, as a friend’s father offered him an engineering job.
  • Chris also found several of his engineering jobs through networking, despite his initial dislike for the concept.
  • While a cooperative education program wasn’t in place at Stephen’s school, he managed to construct his own industrial connections.
  • Stephen found LinkedIn to be an important avenue for making engineering connections.
  • Finding housing for short-term projects is difficult, as month-to-month leases can be “massively” expensive.
  • What Color is Your Parachute? is a classic job-search book that recommends many of the networking steps that Stephen has implemented on his own.
  • Chris mentions a xkcd strip that provides a “cheat sheet” about which sports are in season.
  • Non-disclosure agreements cover the intellectual property that contract employees access.
  • Chris and Jeff haggle over the differences between contractors and consultants.
  • Despite enjoying his contract work, Stephen looks forward to someday having a steady job.
  • Daniel Pink wrote about free agent employment in his 2001 book, Free Agent Nation.
  • Health insurance is generally not offered to contract employees.
  • If you’re not a full-time employee, and work in the US as an independent contractor, you may receive a reporting of your earnings via a Form 1099.
  • Jeff asks about the prevalence of Google-style interview questions.
  • Chris likes to ask interviewees about their hobbies, believing a resume is best read from the bottom up.
  • It’s often a difficult decision whether to remain a generalist, or become a specialist in your engineering field.
  • Going through a site like Quirky is a new way to develop a product.
  • Maintaining an online presence is likely to be of growing importance, as employers search for engineers who are already up-to-speed on a given subject.
  • Chris is currently reading The Startup of You, by a co-founder of LinkedIn.
  • Stephen can be reached through comments to this post.

Thanks to Ed Yourdon for the photo titled “Laptop Man.” Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson

 



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