Job Title: Engineer
Type of Company: Defense Electronics
Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, Bucknell University
Previous Experience: I started as an electrical engineer out of college and am now an engineering product manager, leading a large defense development program.
Job Tasks: I lead a large team of software developers through design, code and SW testing of a large, complex shipboard system which incorporates two state-of-the-art Phased Array Radar systems. My daily activities include leadership of the team, including the tracking of costs and our schedule performance. I work with internal program leadership to keep the activities of the software team aligned with the overall progress of the program. I confer with senior management on the performance of the team, and provide monthly program reviews to the Navy.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is strategic decision-making. What this means is being able to interact and understand ways to change the activities of the team to keep our goals attainable. These programs are long-term -- the development phase alone can take five years -- so change is inevitable.
The worst part of the job is the time required to report the project's status to various management levels. These "management" activities take away from the "leadership" activities which contribute to my team's success.
Job Tips: Develop strong communication skills, both speaking and writing. The ability to succinctly provide thoughts and status is crucial in the business world
Start your career by participating in all the opportunities you get. This will make you more knowledgeable later in your career which will help in higher levels of responsibility. For example, I spent the first 10 years of my career doing hardware design, hardware integration, software design, factory support, system integration and finally shipboard system testing. These experiences now make me an effective leader
Additional Thoughts: Working for a large defense contractor provides many opportunities to do different, interesting things over time. Communication skills are key for success in any position Interpersonal relationships - and common sense - are just as important - and perhaps more - than specific technical skills.
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