Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Who on earth are you?

NOTE TO THE UNPREPARED: This post will initially seem like it has nothing to do with aerospace.

It does. Stick with it.

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Who are you?

Why do you get up in the morning, and go to this place but not that place?

What makes you tick? What scratches your itch?

What makes for a great aerospace career?

What makes for a great career in any field of endeavour, for that matter?

Does what I do make any positive difference to anyone else?

You need to ask yourself these questions.

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What’s Your Antidote to the Fear of Loss?

Twice in the last three months, I’ve missed out on paying work, losing in the end because I was too expensive.

Too what?

The client had a pay scale, or a spreadsheet somewhere that dictated how much they were prepared to pay for my time.

On or below that line, and I was in. One penny above, and I was out. Simple. Case closed.

The bottom line was the expense they would incur by hiring me.

I had been reduced to a cost.

They (and I) had failed to consider: How much profit or benefit would they make by hiring me? (It’s a skill I haven’t yet mastered, obviously.)

You will often hear someone moaning about the shortage of engineers, the lack of technical skills, young people don’t want to go into engineering anymore, it’s holding back the company’s growth, it’s holding back national growth, etc, etc.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Post 1

Boy oh boy, can things change in just 20 years.

In 1993, I was not long married, getting very little sleep (due to the new baby howling in the middle of the night), and less than a year into my second permanent job (with 7 months of unemployment in between them).

On New Year’s day, I vividly remember sitting in the hospital holding my one-day-old daughter, thinking, “Darn. If I’m going to attempt a career change, I’d better do it fast.”

I was already losing interest in my new job, and I suspected that my employer might also be losing interest in me. (They were.)

I’d been fascinated with flying machines ever since the age of three, when my grandparents had taken me to watch them at the nearby municipal airport. I’d been transfixed then, as I still am whenever anything flies overhead.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Post 1

The game just changed for the aerospace engineer

I just saw something yesterday that made me realize:

Things are changing even faster than I thought.

Freelancer is a site that does just what it says on the tin: Connects people and businesses who need specific work done, with the people who can do that work, wherever in the world they are.

Nothing new. Guru, eLance and oDesk have been doing it for the last decade.

What came as a surprise to me was the kind or work being offered on Freelancer. The eLances and oDesks of the world have until now mainly been useful for copywriting, SEO, web dev, software coding, graphic design, etc. Never the “harder” technical stuff, and certainly not the engineering disciplines within aerospace. That has typically been packaged up and “thrown over the wall” to lower-cost firms, often in cheaper countries.

Not until now, that is.

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Google should learn from aerospace

As a self-confessed critic of the aerospace industry, I never thought I’d hear myself say this:

I think Google should take a lesson from commercial aerospace.

Google has abruptly decided to shut down its Google Reader tool, without replacement or merging the functionality into any other tool.

Just imagine an announcement like this from Boeing:

“Boeing announces today that it is withdrawing all support for the 767 line of aircraft, as of two months from now.  Operators of these aircraft will need to make alternative arrangements in support of their customers.”

Operators of these aircraft would be seriously inconvenienced and out-of-pocket. Some would find their very survival threatened.

There wouldn’t just be screams. There would be lawsuits.

There would be permanently lost customers.

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Mobile devices will disrupt aerospace

Check this link out. It’s Bill Gross’ assessment of the impact of mobile devices on how we live, and associated business opportunities.

I hear you ask: What on earth does this have to do with aerospace?

Well, as regards military aerospace, or general aviation, it’s not immediately obvious. Possibly not much.

But as regards commercial aerospace, the implications are huge.

It’s already possible to arrange all the significant (and many of the insignificant) details of our lives directly from a mobile phone or tablet. By the end of this decade, all the more so.

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Engineer, are you a commodity?

(Hint: The default value is YES.)

Here’s a blog post well worth reading, entitled How to be a freelance engineer. Very insightful.

I would have prefaced it with two questions:

  1. Do you know the currency value of the skills you will bring to the marketplace as a freelance engineer?
  2. If the answer to Question 1 is yes, are you still sure you want to be a freelance engineer?

Author Seth Godin likes to ask people if there is anyone else in the world that can deliver the same goods or services as you, for the same money (or less).

If the answer to that question is YES, he will tell you that you are on a race to the bottom.

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Think like a business – Know your market

Last week, I attended a seminar entitled Sizing Your Market, given by two Bristol-area gentlemen (Greville Commins, Matt Hatch). Between them, they have launched, led, and exited several tech businesses over many years.

It’s an important topic to businesses, that’s obvious.

On the surface, though, it might seem to be an irrelevance to lone rangers who just want to beaver along and get the day’s work done..

It’s not.

Even if you are an employee, or a contractor working for a single customer at a time, you’ve got to think like a business if you want to protect yourself and get ahead. You’d better have at least a gut feel for how many other people you are likely to work for in your lifetime, what their needs/wants are, and how much they are prepared to pay for your services.

Here’s a quick summary of what I learned at the Sizing Your Market seminar:

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Take advantage of two recent recruiting trends

If you’re hunting for your next job or contract, here are two new developments to keep your eye on:

1. Job listing apps for mobile phones and tablets.

Engineer-Jobs in the US have their own iPhone/iPad app, providing listings of their open positions. For the UK market, Morson Group have just recently launched their own version. You can filter the listings for location and industry, and save the searches.

One irritating thing about the Morson app is that if you run a saved search yielding zero results, the app abruptly throws you out;  you have to re-enter and go through the whole process again. Nuisance. It also won’t rotate as you tilt the iPad around.

However, these irritants are minor. Top marks to these firms for making it easier to get relevant job search information to the people that can help them seal the deal.  Far too many job listing sites are mobile-unfriendly, and build the site for their own convenience, not the convenience of the job-seeker.

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Mergers on the starboard bow, Jim!

Two different Flight Global articles posted in February alone argue that the scene is set ripe for a wave of aerospace mergers and acquisitions.

Apparently there was only (only!) US$9 billion in M&A activity in 2012.

The reason? The big players have been chomping at the bit to merge for a while. They’e been stymied so far by the politicians. However, those same politicians, mainly in the US, now desperately need to cut back their defence spending. Hence the shackles will probably be removed.

What does this mean for the lowly aerospace knowledge worker with aspirations to satisfy and bills to pay?

Continue reading Mergers on the starboard bow, Jim!

For geeks who defy gravity