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Looking for some inspiration...

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Newbie level 6
Jul 13, 2009
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Graduated in 2007, got a brief job working on pcb design and embedded systems, but my division was laidoff (400+ folks). Been on unemployment for several months and I feel like I've been dumped into a terrible job market... not enough experience to really impress employers these days and not fresh enough out of college to make that an overlooked aspect :(.

While I know my fundamentals and have job experience with pcb design, microcontrollers and embedded systems, I know that continued education is the greatest investment... to me this could mean taking a loan out now, go into more debt but get my masters degree. I'd end up with great education but be almost 30 with only 3 positions under my belt (2 internships) that lasted less than a year.

OR I can wait out the rest of my unemployment (now on tier 1 with 2 and 3 on the way), and keep applying for positions, learning what I can on the outside, with interests in analog/digital design, IC design, pca/pcb design, embedded systems, fpga/cpld/asic, all data transfer technologies, all storage technologies, etc.

Opinions? I definately feel like I'm at a crossroads as to decide wether or not to keep enduring unemployment or go back to school. I know I could be very good at engineering, but need every advantage I can take now in order to get there.

You have a genuine dilemma that many people face. As long as you have free time on your hands you should use it to learn more. The question is your financial resources. Can your relatives help you with school expenses? An advanced degree helps, but many employers have their staff interview the applicant. In this case, the knowledge you gain by reading books will help almost as much as more schooling.

I live in the United States. Thanks to Federal Unemployment Extentions I can survive on checks for a while, but was hoping to be having a position by now or a way to further my education (couldn't pursue a masters until 2010 due to enrollment requirements). I don't think there is much worth to retake bachelor level courses except to use the lab equipment as the fundamentals are not a problem for me.

Are there any volunteer opportunities in electrical engineering?

You ought to get on LinkedIn and network the hell out
of yourself with fellow layoff victims and those still around.
The best jobs find you rather than the other way around,
at least when you are experienced. Connections matter.

In my neck of the woods, when I was working for a large
corporation, every layoff spawned several local startups
(not to mention the poaching from without, and setting-up
of local design centers of competitors built around talent
that was "geographically committed". Sniff around for that,
See where others have landed as "existence proof" of

And of course you might consider hooking up with other
folks in the same boat, finding a couple of business and
marketing types who can put a plan together, and make
a startup of your own. Attach "what you can do" to "what
is hot now" (I would be thinking about controls for "green
energy" but that's just a hobby-horse of mine), see if you
can squeeze some R&D funding out of state or federal
entities for a quick leg up and go at it like it was your
livelihood on the line.

Allocate a couple hours a day to seeking a position, a couple
to researching the industry and related ones for who's
beating the odds, the rest to self-study (books and maybe
a development board or two are way cheaper, and more
educational most likely, than a taught class). Then at
interviews you can tell them what you've been doing to
enhance your skill set, which says "self starter" and is
always a Good Thing.

since you don't have much experience I suggest you sell yourself as a fresh graduate. Contact your local college and universities to see when companies are coming to campus to interview new grads. pitch the short experience in your face to face interview.

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