Tag Archives: career

Cannibalize your present to optimize your future.

I hate to be a killjoy. So apologies in advance for starting off on a negative foot.

The bull run for engineering opportunities in aerospace has ended.

For most of the last two decades, good- to well-paying work opportunities in the western aerospace industry have not been hard to find. Indeed, the opportunities usually came hunting for you. and when one gig ended, there were five more lined up outside, waiting to snap you up.

Not any more.

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In praise of recruiters

My current work situation is unusual.

I am doing engineering work, but often find myself at a desk sandwiched between two full-time recruiters.

I have many times been chased by recruiters to go work somewhere. And I have been the company using a recruiter to source engineers.

This is the first time I’ve gotten to see the world through the recruiter’s eyes.

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8 Ways to Not Make More Money doing engineering (or anything else)

1. Don’t ask for more.

This works for me every time. Amazing! When I don’t ask, I don’t get! Problem solved.

2. On the odd occasion when I fall off the wagon, and ask for more, I wait for an answer.

And I wait. And wait. And wait.

Waiting frequently causes the terrible insult that I’ve just delivered to be forgotten.

Eventually, I can go back to breathing easily, secure in the knowledge that nothing will change.
Continue reading 8 Ways to Not Make More Money doing engineering (or anything else)

See? Meetups work! Stuff happens!

Just thought I’d do a quick follow-up to my last post, in which I was plugging the value of attending live events, like meetups.

Just last night, we had the first local event in the South West Aerospace Hackers meet-up. That’s one that I jointly kicked off, literally just a week ago, having publicized the meetup on Meetup.com and elsewhere, and on LinkedIn. Have already had about 20 people register, and 10 people show up, just a week.

There was a really really good buzz in the room. We met in a local watering hole. Good buzz! Lots of talk, lot of frustrations shared. People started to plot, and hatch ideas for how they can rejig, replan their own careers, but also other projects and initiatives. Lots of good stuff shared there. The next event is already scheduled for about a month away.

Continue reading See? Meetups work! Stuff happens!

Three Career Questions to ask yourself regularly

Here are three questions to ask yourself when contemplating your current, or a new, career situation:

Are you global, or are you local?

Do you like checking in with the same crowd every morning, in the same office, preferably close to home? Does your brain get excited by travel, meeting new people with different experiences and perspectives? Do the same faces and the office banter cheer you up, or get you down? Does what’s happening on the other side of the world fascinate you or bore you?

This is the global versus local question, and it’s not really my question. I chanced upon it on Derek Siver’s blog. He’s a well-travelled entrepreneur, who settled in Singapore a few years ago, and decided that he really ought to try and put down some roots and get to know the locals. Within a short time, he was frustrtrated and dissatisfied. He realised that what was going on next door just didn’t interest him as much as what was going on in the next country.
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Security or Significance? Choose.

Here’s an article which will probably both ring true with you, and disturb you at the same time.

The essential point is, an awful lot of people, in an awful lot of walks of life, seem to find themselves doing work that is peripheral, or completely disconnected, from what they value, and from what they thought their employer was all about.

And it leaves them feeling worthless, unvalued, unhappy, even ashamed.

They do it because it keeps them alive, and it provides enough income.

The world of traditional aerospace, being by its very nature traditional, conservative, and bottom-line-oriented, is no exception.

It is therefore worthwhile asking oneself the following question then, no matter what stage in your life and career you find yourself:

Which matters more to me: Security? Or significance?

Because if security (of lifestyle, income, schedule, etc) matters more, you had better have some tolerance for doing work that you don’t value. For at least some of the time.

Conversely, if significance matters more to you, you will have to keep your wits about you, and be prepared to take bold action when required.

Because the inevitable trend is towards work that is dull, commoditized, and security-oriented.

The action you will need to take will include refusal to do work that doesn’t matter to you, or to the people you care about.

That’s risky, of course. Security goes out the window, at least for a while.

Though if you stick to your guns, in the long run, security might come back in the front door, and you get the best of both worlds.

Whatever the case, ask yourself the question. And choose.

To freelance is divine!

Up until now, I’ve been quite selfish with Aerospace Nation, doing virtually all the writing.

Time to fix that.

One avid reader kindly volunteered to share his experience of freelancing (also called contracting). What a brilliant idea.

Jon Mercer isn’t an aerospace hack. He’s spend most of his working life in IT. While nursing a passion for flying machines. Of course. Doesn’t everybody?

But the story he’s about to tell could very easily be that of an aerospace techie. (The one exception being: While you might be able to get into IT armed with only a history degree and a willingness to hack, you can’t get into aerospace like that. The aerospace world is rather backward that way, to its detriment.)

What’s cool about Jon’s story is how he sort of fell into freelancing, and then discovered how much happier he was that way. That’s a theme that resonates. I can count on one hand the number of freelance people I’ve met who regret the switch from permanent employment. The vast, vast, vast majority of freelancers are happier, richer, and wish they’d made the jump earlier.

With a few exceptions, the language below belongs to Jon. Where I have added anything, it is italicized, in brackets, and prefaced by DK.

Read on!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was one day in the late 1990’s.

There I was, sat at my desk, when suddenly the voices around me fell silent.

Something was being passed from desk to desk. You could follow its progress from the red faces and embarrassed expressions.

Someone had brought a freelancing magazine into the office . . .

Backtrack to the mid 1990’s. I was temping after finishing a History degree and wondering what to do with myself.

Continue reading To freelance is divine!

Why I’m pessimistic on the long-term career potential in big commercial airframers

I’ve been fascinated with Big Birds since I was old enough to walk, and I’ve worked directly in commercial aerospace for 15 years.

This is the first time I’ve seen this situation.

For the next 5-7 years, the only two significant commercial airframers on the planet will be preoccupied with developing their existing products.

Boeing will have their hands full delivering the 787 and all its variants, and launching the 737 MAX and the rumoured new 777 variants.

Airbus will meanwhile be preoccupied with developing the A380 (and boosting sales), delivering the A400M, and getting the A350-900, -1000, and A320neo family through flight test and entry into service.

Neither airframer is wasting any breath talking about new airframe concepts that we might see next decade. Each will occasionally do some public daydreaming about a blended wing-body concepts, transparent fuselages, etc, etc. (I suspect they do that more for the PR benefit potential than anything.)
Continue reading Why I’m pessimistic on the long-term career potential in big commercial airframers

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Final Words of Wisdom

Some of these you may have already heard of. It’s good to be reminded of them. They are good habits to live and work by, not just in aerospace.

If you can apply them all, every day . . . . . . . I salute you. You should be my teacher.

Here they are:

Pareto’s Law

20% of the inputs generate 80% of the outputs. I quoted this to you earlier in this series of posts. It applies to everything.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Five Myths That Need to be Slaughtered

(1) My manager should help me achieve my career goals.

(Also known as: When I get bored of this job, my manager will help me move to a more interesting one.)

Maybe he should, but almost certainly he won’t.

Your manager is primarily concerned with his own career objectives.

If he’s got his eye on a promotion, or even a sideways move, the last thing he wants is a vacancy on his team. That’s another problem that his manager will point to, and say, “We can’t promote you until you sort that out.” So he’s going to do everything in his power to dissuade you from leaving.

He may say, “Just do me this one favour, I’ll make it up to you”.

No, he won’t.

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