Tag Archives: career

Have Designers Lost The Ability To Be Creative?

In the global economy of outsourcing, design knowledge is slowly become a commodity. Low wage workers in third world countries will eventually learn your know-hows and technical skills. The only want to stay competitive is be creative. That’s what really set excellence apart from the mediocre.

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How to explain what is computer engineering to 7th grade

My friend is an elementary school teacher. Her grade 7 class is having career day to understand different kinds of jobs and she asked me as a guest speaker. I am a toastmaster, so I thought how hard can it be to speak in front of 20 kids. I was wrong. It is quite hard to explain what is my job to the little kids. I cannot use difficult words or they won’t understands. Many technical, which terms seems very natural to me, are like Martian language to them.

I did came prepared, but I did not prepare enough. I did not think hard enough trying explain my job in very simple language. I printed some photos Gameboy and iPhone circuit board. They seems quite exciting seeing how a Gameboy looks like inside. I also brought a chips to show them, but I doubt they understand exactly what it does. At the end of the day, I think they sort of know computer engineers build computer chips and there are computer chips inside every electronic device. I bet they are totally lost when I try to explain how we make build a chip. I even used the word fabrication.

The little kids asked me some questions about my job. Most of them are pretty general questions, like how’s my work environment like, what kind of education I need, working hours, etc. When I said I work flexible hours, I can come into work leave any time I like and I can take breaks whenever I want, the little kids seem very excited. Then I explained a little more that my job is project base, which means I have work long hours when the deadline is getting close. I tried to use handing in homework as an analogy, I hope some of them will get it.

I like talking to little kids about engineering.  I feel I have done some good service to my profession.  I wonder did my words inspired any kid grow up to be an engineer.

The process or the result

I have a friend quited her job and went to study MBA planned for a career change.  Very unfortunately, now she graduate right in the middle of the fiancial crisis.  Jobs opening is drying up everywhere, especially on the traditional MBA related industries.  This year is a very though time for a MBA graduate.  Luckily, although she quited when she went back to school, she is able to get back her old job.  It seems things is not changed at all for her, except she lost a year of salary, the accumulated benefits and got a huge debt for the tuition.

If we are just looking at the result, yes, she seems to be worse off than before.  However, there are many things cannot be quantified with a dollar sign.  Instead of seeing it as a failed attempt of career change, it can be seen as a sabbatical.  My friend always dreamed to study aboard and experience a different country.  That was her last chance to experience the school life full time before she is too old to enjoy that.  The course work she learned in school might not be very useful, but who knows what might come in handy one day.  Most important of all is she had tried to go after her dream.  No matter what is the outcome, she won’t have any regrets.  Maybe when she look back in 10 years, her decision quitting her job to go back to school will have a different perspective.