What do I need to do to keep my career moving? (engineer-filter)
March 29, 2012 5:30 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to do to keep my career moving? (engineer-filter)

What do I need to do to keep my career moving? (engineer-filter)

I'm a mechanical engineer with skills in design for high volume plastic manufacture as well as prototyping.

I just had my first review (6 months) at my first real job. I had good remarks. I fell behind on hitting some deadlines but in the end I had good remarks for my analysis, design, and communication skills (75% of the people I interact with are in China).

My goals for the next 12 months and beyond are to (1) get recognition by making my boss (director) and his boss (C-level) look good and (2) develop my own skills. I'm in consumer product development now and I see myself at least attempting to start my own company in the next 3 years.

1) Find the exact break-down for design costs (NRE) and try to get under budget.
2) Learn good project (and people) management skills.
a. Already set solid milestones to hit (both personal and with other teams)
b. I'm halfway through Get Things Done.
3) Deepen my understanding of manufacturing (metals and other processes), analysis (FEA and statistical), root cause analysis, and marketing.
4) Improve my CAD skills (particularly surfacing).

- What concrete things can I do for (2) and (3), particularly with respect to marketing and analysis?
- Any good manufacturing textbooks or journals?
a. For plastics, I only ran into ultrasonic welding because I had to learn how to use it. How do get more broad and in-depth knowledge?
b. For metals, I want to learn everything from die-casting to anodizing.
- Any good business/marketing textbooks? I've already read Thinking in Systems and Personal MBA.
- What goals should I add to the list?
posted by just.good.enough to Work & Money (3 answers total)
My boss is great at managing people, and here's how he does it:

Constant communication - talk about potential issues before they become bigger.

It's about the situation - approach every issue as a situational issue, that you can both work through, rather than making it about something that someone did wrong.

Also, take responsibility for issues yourself. It's a amazing that when I screw up, my boss says "I should have communicated this better to you. What can we do to make this work better next time?" Sure makes it a lot easier to admit to my mistakes and solve problems when I'm not afraid of getting in shit. And I have an immense amount of respect for him because of it.

Feedback - If I'm doing well, or not, I hear about it. I don't have to wonder what my employers are thinking and it's great. Another key thing - give genuine praise at every opportunity. I can take lots of harsh constructive criticism from my boss, no problem, because when I do something well there's so much praise.
posted by Jade_bug at 10:18 PM on March 29, 2012

The Handbook of Manufacturing Processes is my first go-to book for processes I run into that I am unfamiliar with. It covers everything at a broad level.

Something that might be helpful in terms of improving analysis in general are some quality classes or manufacturing classes. My undergrad is in Mech E and my grad was in Manufacturing Eng. The manufacturing degree focused more on quality type analysis and design for manufacture as well as statistical methods for evaluating designs and processes. I think it was a good addition to my mechanical design abilities, though I ended up with my next job in software that focuses on manufacturing and cost...
posted by chiefthe at 12:40 AM on March 30, 2012

On Marketing: if you did read Personal MBA, take a closer look at Josh Kaufman's 99 books to read list. (I'm working through several of them myself.) The Ries and Trout book is great, as well as the ones he recommends by Seth Godin.

Think about the 'how' of your 'people management skills' piece. With any organization, it takes a lot of effort to stand out, to participate in teams, etc. I myself like the Harvard Business Review blogs, this is a post about 'One skill all leaders should work on', applicable at any level.
posted by scooterdog at 7:12 AM on March 30, 2012

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