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Career Story: Technical Instructor For A Large Semiconductor Company

Technical Instructor For A Large Semiconductor Company

Job Title: Technical Instructor For A Large Semiconductor Company

Type of Company: My company produces state-of-the-art chips for electronic devices worldwide.

Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Previous Experience: My first job out of school was writing micro-controller software for a large aircraft manufacturer. My second job had me installing and checking software installations in the space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center. My third job involved chip design at a military contractor. After this, my next two jobs were as a sales engineer for electronic distributors.

Job Tasks: The company that I work for sells high-tech electronic parts that can be difficult to get started designing into a product. My job is to educate our customers so that they will be successful, and hopefully, purchase many of our parts. My day-to-day activities come under two main headings: creating material and presenting material.

I work out of my house and create material using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Since most of our classes have been presented with a live instructor, I mainly focus on creating a PowerPoint presentation. I then take the presentation and integrate it into a workbook, along with lab exercise instructions. I also write code to support those lab exercises for our micro-controllers and examples. The material I create may be intended for either live presentation or online presentation. I upload and monitor my online content via Wiki pages and forums, using my home Internet connection.

Live presentations require me to travel around the country and sometimes overseas. I arrive at a site, set up the lab computers and hardware and generally set up the student area. Since students pay $1500 or more for a class, their experience should be a good one. I spend as long as four days teaching the class, then head home after tearing everything down on Friday. Support hardware is shipped between locations so that I don't have to carry it myself.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is having the chance to learn new techniques and technologies. The technologies my company utilizes are constantly changing, and it's a challenge to keep up. I also enjoy meeting new people and seeing interesting places in my travels.

The worst part of my job can be the travel. Commercial airline travel is, at best, a chore, and can often be a tremendous drag. There are many times when I'd much rather be at home with my family.

Job Tips:
1. Get your college degree. You may be terrific, but without that piece of paper, no one will open the door for you.

2. Real world design experience is impossible to fake. If you intend to teach a subject, get experience actually doing it. It will allow you to understand what real customers challenges are, and you can make a good living while you learn.

3. Don't be afraid to get sales experience. A good salesperson may seem like a contradiction in terms, but they serve both the company they work for and the customer too. And, as a sales engineer, you'll get trained on their products for free.

Additional Thoughts: A career path is nothing but a series of missteps. Enjoy what you're doing until you no longer enjoy it, then look for a new challenge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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