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The Best Pep-Talk I Ever Had, (and four more worth remembering)

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The Best Pep-Talk I Ever Had, (and four more worth remembering)

As we go through our days on the job, little nuggets of wisdom or motivation come our way. Some of it comes in the form of corporate propaganda to make sure everyone is living out the mission statement. Sometimes, a mentor or buddy has a one-liner that hit home. Other times, an unexpected encounter has a profound effect. Pile up enough of these days on the job and a body of encouraging words can be recalled. Good days and bad days both have their own nuggets. Sharing is caring so I’ll just leave a few words of advice here.

5. If the project runs late, the stakeholders will be on edge during the delay. As soon they get to play with their new item they’ll forget all about the schedule miss. But, a fatal flaw in a board that you owned will be remembered for a long time to come.

-Spectrian -My first ECAD job.

When you are new on the job and new in that sector, you have a lot to prove and a lot to learn. One of the lessons is that you can’t please everyone. Maybe, you can’t please anyone but you can balance everyone’s discomfort level. You’re watched closely as a new hire. Learning what is important to your group will help you solve their problems. Do they want it right now or do they want it right? Figure out the risk tolerance and, of course, do everything you can to avoid mistakes.



4. Qualcomm puts a high value on a four-year degree.

-Bonus QCOM advice: Live a little!

Education makes a difference. Knowing you went through the winnowing courses demonstrates things beyond smarts. The time management and tenacity needed to complete the degree program makes any kind of degree useful on some level. On the job training and experience are even more important when our job takes a turn for the higher technology. In all honesty, I did not finish but took advantage of the tuition reimbursement while there.

Bonus: Live a little. Small changes can have a great impact. The decisions we make in the development moment have an affect on people for a long production time. A legible silkscreen can be your gift to the assembly and test teams; just for instance.


3.  Put the user first.

-You learn a lot of things at Google, mostly this.

Google reminds you of this duty and wants you to have it as more than a mantra. They are obsessed with the UX but also with user data. A tiny percentage of it escapes and all hell breaks loose. New product announcements always seem to leak. They don’t care much for that either. That many people and that many secrets in a (mostly) open architecture is hard to contain. Sometimes, the leak was when I found out more about the project I was doing. It’s a big world full of information and they want to monetize as much of it as possible. I heard Eric Schmidt refer to us as “staunchly capitalistic” so, yeah.



2. If you can learn Allegro on someone else’s dime, stay with that company.

-Career Counselor

Being head-hunted used to take a lot more effort on the part of both the hunter and the “huntee”. Well it happened to me one day and I was playing two companies against one another. Both offers were nice so I was getting an opinion from someone in the temporary placement business. I took that advice over a move that I wanted after several years.

During those years, I learned Pads PCB as my second ECAD tool. The struggle with the different UX was breaking my carpal tunnel. Picking every command from the mouse plus using it as the pointer will do that. Learning the hot-keys and menu structure while producing PC boards at the traditional (crazy) pace was rough. It smoothed out a little by learning to mouse with my other hand. Did I want to do that again? It might be easier said than done but I recommend trying both hands as a possible way to lengthen your day or even your career. So, yes, learn more tools and learn how to take care of yourself so you can keep being you.

1. We may have to throw a ‘Hail Mary’ pass to the endzone and we’re going to need you to be way down the field to catch that pass if it comes to that.

It was another start-up. The Chief had not spoken with me beyond “hello” before then. Nobody was managing me. I prioritized my work based on who I thought had a clearer definition of what they wanted. Being efficient with my time was the main goal. Now, all of a sudden, there is a side venture.

So here’s what the big boss said. “John, we may have to throw a ‘Hail Mary’ pass to the endzone and we’re going to need you to be way down the field to catch that pass if it comes to that.” Most people that understand the game know that it is a high risk/reward play. I played halfback and sometimes corner-back for a couple seasons of after-school ball. We were dumb enough to have pick-up games in the snow.

I wasn’t much use for blocking and tackling but I could make people miss and find the open green space all day. The same headspace can help find solutions to contentious routing restrictions. Somehow, J.P. was able to put me under the metaphorical helmet I wore as a boy. The punchline is that everyone has to find their own inspiration.

The project ran its course, but fizzled out due to delays getting customer samples. Logistics can get you there or wipe you out on the way. Life goes on. The project itself turned out to be of no consequence. This isn’t about outcomes though. I will fondly remember the personal touch of a dedicated CTO. As people come and go, they leave their imprint on you and likewise. There is always a beneficial lesson to learn on either side.


About the Author

John Burkhert Jr is a career PCB Designer experienced in Military, Telecom, Consumer Hardware and lately, the Automotive industry. Originally, an RF specialist -- compelled to flip the bit now and then to fill the need for high-speed digital design. John enjoys playing bass and racing bikes when he's not writing about or performing PCB layout. You can find John on LinkedIn.

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