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Career Story: Engineer And Government Contractor

Engineer And Government Contractor

Job Title: Senior Engineer

Type of Company: Government-funded research and development and contract engineering services

Education: BS, MS, Electrical Engineering, Tufts University

Previous Experience: I worked for a number of companies, some smaller and some larger, doing the same kind of work.

Job Tasks: I develop business and customer contacts with the government and other companies. I then write proposals for engineering jobs aimed at solving their technical problems. When a contract is awarded to us, I also do the engineering work and coordinate contract, legal and administrative issues associated with the job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my work is the opportunity it affords me to solve technical problems despite the constraints of time and resources. I get great satisfaction from winning new business that I've sought out myself.

The worst part is having to do everything from sales and marketing to executing the actual work, along with handling the administrative chores. If you aren't successful in your business development, you will be soon out of a job.

Job Tips: It would be very helpful to take courses about how to write successful proposals to customers. While English writing would also be helpful, writing proposals to government customers is a very different sort of writing, and there are courses and texts specifically about that that would be more appropriate.

A doctorate is beneficial.

Getting papers published in the technical literature is very beneficial. I makes for a more impressive-looking resume, which you put into proposals. It also makes your name known among people in the area.

Additional Thoughts: One thing I would do differently now if I could would be to think more, and get more advice from more senior people, about what specific sector to focus on, and then make every effort to focus on that sector and become a recognized contributor (if not a leader) to it.

A mistake I have made is to move from job to job based on how the economy is doing, what jobs are available, and how I feel about my work environment and the people I work with, rather than continually driving towards a career goal.

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