Author Topic: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?  (Read 13789 times)

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Offline JackP

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Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« on: March 01, 2015, 10:40:42 pm »
Hi,
I've been into electronics for some time, and have found that you need some money to buy test gear, components etc. Thus, I have been trying to get a job in the industry. I have shot a few emails around to a few companies in the locale, but no responses. I was wondering if anyone has any advice for me, to either find a job or some way to make money, or has been in this position themselves. I want a job in electronics because I love it and want to learn on the job, otherwise I would just ask around the small shops near here. For the record, I am 14, living in St. Neots, Cambridge, UK. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide,
JackP
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2015, 11:20:37 pm »
Good for you.

Be aware that you may get conflicting opinions on this forum. With your lack of experience it will be difficult, but you need to understand what people are saying (and are not saying) - and why. Probably the best way to do that is to talk about what you've read with someone you trust that has more experience of the world and of people.; electronic expeirience isw not required for that!

Here's my PoV, based on doing electronics and software as a hobby and professionally since the 60s.

At this stage you need to concentrate on getting good qualifications in topics that are vaguely relevant to your interests. Until university that means STEM subjects, not very specific qualifications such as electronics A level.
You, and employers, will value your having breadth; depth comes later.

The qualifications you get must be tailored so that you have good theoretical depth, augmented by practical experience. Now theory is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Similarly practice is necessary, but it is not sufficient. You need both.

At your stage you should be experimenting, finding to what extent your creations do and don't work, and then finding out why. You will then be able to put down on your CV that yuou have done more than the course required simply because you enjoy the subject. That will put you ahead of 90% of job applicants. You can discuss what, with 20:20 hindsight, you would do better next time. That gives the interviewer something to talk about, and allows them to discover your strengths - which other candidates won't have.

So, pick something difficult that interests you, do it, make mistakes, and learn from them. Do it as a hobby for now, and don't worry about paid employment just yet. There's plenty of time for that and I strongly suspect you won't have problems getting a job (well, fewer problems than most people :) )

If you really want to start entering the adult world in ways that will help you and your job prospects, consider getting a hobby that will develop your spo-called "soft skills" (ugh!). HR droids love talking about teamwork, drive, challenges, responsibility etc. For my daughter that was done by her learning to fly an aircraft. At 14 you are old enough to be a solo pilot, and I know three wonderful people that are. A gliding club requires all of those skills and will develop them in you. See www.gliding.co.uk for the nearest club (probably Cambridge Gliding Club). It is cheap, fun, and maybe you could learn alongside your parents?

Bear in mind that you may (or may not) change your mind about a career over the next few years. I didn't; my daughter and most people did.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline Howardlong

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2015, 11:28:20 pm »
It's been a long time, but I'm afraid I just worked my nuts off doing as many paper rounds as I could or stuffing envelopes to pay for my electronics hobby at your age. Even when I was at university, getting vocational jobs just didn't happen for me, although if you're lucky you might get sponsorship or do a sandwich course.

The closest I got before doing real work was working in the stores of an electronics factory when I was at university. I knew far more than any of the other guys in the stores, none of whom would know one end of a diode from another, let alone which end of a soldering iron to hold.

I wish I could give you more encouragement, but unless you get lucky or happen to know someone, getting a foot in the door for anything other than a casual non-technical job at 14 is a big ask :-(

On the plus side you are in an area of the country where it's all happening in technology, so you might just get lucky if you, or your family, happen to know the right people.

I do however admire your tenacity and I hope it pays off.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 11:30:52 pm by Howardlong »
 

Online pickle9000

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2015, 11:37:03 pm »
I started out tube swapping and selling tv's. Yes, tv's once had tubes.

Anyway it can be tough. What I did was dangerous and today fixing tv's or monitors is also dangerous. I had some guidance but in reality it is very dangerous. If you do try something like this try and find an older (more experienced) person to help.

Paper routes are a good idea but I don't know if that exists any more either.
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2015, 12:12:31 am »
The domestic electronics repair trade in the UK is finishing the last stages of contraction towards a small specialist niche market, the days of a TV repair shop on every highstreet are long gone, and remaining electronics related businesses are not likely to want anyone under 16 due to difficulties complying with health & safety and employment law and extra insurance costs.

Your chances of pursuing your hobby for pay for the next ten years or so are pretty slim . . . .
 

Offline Stonent

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 07:11:51 am »
You should look into arcade game repair.  There's a youtube channel called TNT Amusements that has lots of videos about some of the games they fix. Aside from just regular repairs, they do a lot of incandescent to LED conversions on pinball machines, battery swaps (replace the old leaky stacked backup batteries with coin cell holders)
There's a lot of people out there that pay to keep the old games running.
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n45048

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2015, 07:17:27 am »
When I was young (which wasn't *that* long ago), I had a job working at a laser tag arena -- you know, where you wear vests and shoot opponents with electronic laser/infrared guns.

I'm not sure of the technology these days but back then it was largely home-brew style kit developed by one specific company. Programming games and downloading data from individual packs was done by a hand held infrared transceiver and both hardware and software was highly customisable. You'd always have a faulty board or two so I learnt how to test and repair them.

Needless to say the free laser tag games were also part of the appeal.
 

Offline JackP

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 07:42:14 am »
Thanks for your help guys. What you are saying is matching what I have found, and expected tbh. In regard to 'soft skills', I am fortunate enough to be doing my PPL, although it will be a while before I can solo (16). I understand what you are saying with getting the qualifications, but you have to remember when you were young the frustration of having £0! Thanks again,
Jack
 

Offline JoeN

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2015, 07:49:48 am »
I made pizzas until I finished junior year in college.  Before four years were out, though, I was the lead programmer at the company that took me as an intern that summer.  Small company, of course...
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Offline Howardlong

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2015, 07:58:55 am »
Thanks for your help guys. What you are saying is matching what I have found, and expected tbh. In regard to 'soft skills', I am fortunate enough to be doing my PPL, although it will be a while before I can solo (16). I understand what you are saying with getting the qualifications, but you have to remember when you were young the frustration of having £0! Thanks again,
Jack

Well now you've mentioned you're doing a PPL, if it's fixed wing or rotary, you could do worse than become a "hangar rat", doing odd jobs, like helping to clean aircraft etc. This does two things, firstly you'll earn a few quid, and people get to know you. if there's a aircraft tech at your aerodrome, then see if you can do those odd jobs for them. Just accept that you won't be doing avionics installs just yet. However showing an interest gets you known, and you never know where it might end up. But at least you got a foot in the door.

The health and safety and insurance side may make some companies reticent, but I've had 15 year olds on work experience work with me for a couple of weeks, so it's not insurmountable. I took one of them around my old Cherokee a few weeks ago showing him the external checks etc, and he was working with the charter section of the company that runs my club doing odd jobs.

Unless you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, we all did pretty menial jobs in our younger days, but it's a means to an end.

There are a few of us on here with PPLs as well as a couple of CPLs and ATPLs. There's one member on here who does single engine aircraft ferrying over the oceans - he's welcome to that job!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 08:03:04 am by Howardlong »
 

Offline SL4P

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2015, 08:27:43 am »
I was about 16 - and by good fortune, every day after school - walked past a small (2 man) bespoke electronics solutions developer (small runs industrial style controllers etc)...

I went in and told him exactly what you're saying - and straight off was doing 1-2 afternoons a week - stuffing boards with through-hole parts then testing them.

After about 2-3 months he saw that I knew what I was doing, and needed a relay board to extend the existing controller he was using - and asked me to sketch it out - and (in those days) proto and then tape up a PCB layout. Things led to other things - and here I am...

A lot of years in bleeding edge technology - and I enjoyed almost every one of them hewre and overseas with multi-nationals and o my own...

But keep across your certifications - as I found out too late - that working on all the next-gen stuff is great, but if you stumble and have to get back in - there is no certificate or degree for all those great things that I spent 30 years doing!!

I wrote documentation and courses, gave the courses/training, managed 30-pax departments and sold multi-million dollar solutions... and created a valuable product/company (which was stolen from me)  but all that is worth zip when you are trying to get back in to the business after 5+ years out of your mainstream industry.

Have fun, but keep your eye on the prize.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2015, 09:12:50 am »
Thanks for your help guys. What you are saying is matching what I have found, and expected tbh. In regard to 'soft skills', I am fortunate enough to be doing my PPL, although it will be a while before I can solo (16). I understand what you are saying with getting the qualifications, but you have to remember when you were young the frustration of having £0! Thanks again,
Jack

You won't believe it, but sometimes having less money can actually be better.

The expensive things can often be more complex and can therefore have a steeper learning curve. If you don't have the underlying theory and background then either the learning curve is dishearteningly long, or you are not able to master it. A good example of that is that for a beginner an (working!) old analogue scope is often easier to use and master than a digital scope. The digital scopes are in some ways more capable, but they also have more subtle mathematically-based pitfalls, e.g. to understand the menu options and what you do/don't see you have to understand sampling theory.

The other good point about having less is that it forces you to use your ingenuity and to use whatever you do have to its full capabilities.

Besides, it can be fun to endlessly "window shop" for exactly the right car/computer/oscilloscope, and then when you get it you know you've got the right one and you really enjoy it. Things that come too easily just don't have the same satisfaction!
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2015, 09:18:01 am »
Well now you've mentioned you're doing a PPL, if it's fixed wing or rotary, you could do worse than become a "hangar rat", doing odd jobs, like helping to clean aircraft etc. This does two things, firstly you'll earn a few quid, and people get to know you. if there's a aircraft tech at your aerodrome, then see if you can do those odd jobs for them. Just accept that you won't be doing avionics installs just yet. However showing an interest gets you known, and you never know where it might end up. But at least you got a foot in the door.

If you go gliding then you will automatically be doing all of those things starting from day 1. You have to, since there aren't any employees to do it for you.

Well, you won't be installing avionics, but you might be debugging them, and you will be helping "install" aircraft wings, driving buggies, controlling launches etc.


Quote
The health and safety and insurance side may make some companies reticent, but I've had 15 year olds on work experience work with me for a couple of weeks, so it's not insurmountable. I took one of them around my old Cherokee a few weeks ago showing him the external checks etc, and he was working with the charter section of the company that runs my club doing odd jobs.

My daughter's school enabled its pupils to have a week's work experience. Mine had hers at the Inland Revenue, and they took some trouble to get her to do a variety of useful things.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline SL4P

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2015, 09:28:27 am »
The expensive things can often be more complex and can therefore have a steeper learning curve. If you don't have the underlying theory and background then either the learning curve is dishearteningly long, or you are not able to master it. A good example of that is that for a beginner an (working!) old analogue scope is often easier to use and master than a digital scope. The digital scopes are in some ways more capable, but they also have more subtle mathematically-based pitfalls, e.g. to understand the menu options and what you do/don't see you have to understand sampling theory.
So true, but don't be overwhelmed!

You see others just gliding through menus and measurements - but they didn't master it the first time they set eyes on a new scope or other gear - analog or dihital!

You're right about analog gear, but the new digital's hold your hand a lot - so it depends on your objectives on day one (and harsh reality) - to find/fix the problem or learn about the scope... both will come over time, but only one wil pay the bills!

Day two is great - and may take a couple of years to arrive, but it all clicks together... and you know when that day arrives - you really feel like it's all laid out in front of you and makes sense at last!  But you still have to remember the live wire hurts when you touch it!
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Offline DmitryL

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2015, 09:34:12 am »
Hi,
I've been into electronics for some time, and have found that you need some money to buy test gear, components etc. Thus, I have been trying to get a job in the industry. I have shot a few emails around to a few companies in the locale, but no responses.

BTW, there are such events, as "job fairs", check details here.
http://www.thejobfairs.co.uk/job-fairs
It seems that it is going to be an event in May in Cambridge. I think that it wouldn't hurt if you visit one of them and talk to people.



 

Offline SL4P

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2015, 09:37:41 am »
JackP - while the location has been answered above - it helps if you set your country in the 'profile' - then others often provide location relevant information in replies to your questions.

Maybe even casual job offers if they're near you!
Cheers
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2015, 09:39:16 am »
You see others just gliding through menus and measurements - but they didn't master it the first time they set eyes on a new scope or other gear - analog or dihital!
True. But some never master it, but to make matters worse then think they have mastered it. The Dunning-Kruger effect in action :(

Quote
... but only one wil pay the bills!
Hopefully the OP doesn't have to pay the bills yet. That give time for experimentation without the necessity for the experiment to directly demonstrate "success".

Quote
But you still have to remember the live wire hurts when you touch it!
Unless you only brush against the live and neutral, and your forearms instantly involuntary contract and instantly break contact. Don't ask me how I know that.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2015, 09:39:56 am »
I doubt you'll get any joy from a medium to big company as they will have all sorts of rules, insurance issues etc. with having under-16s on the premises.

There might be some scope at 1 or 2-man band type operations, though these are likely to be hard to find. May be worth looking for small consultancy type places (e.g. the Microchip registered developer list).

As well as looking for work, it may also be worth asking for donations of stuff like scrap boards. obsolete equipment etc. As well as maybe getting something useful, it gets you in the door to actually talk to people.

At least Cambridge is probably one of the better places good place to be in the UK.

I got an evening/weekend job at a repair shop at about 13, but as has been said here, few of these still exist.

 The nearest alternative nowadays is probably dumpster-diving stuff like LCD TVs and monitors, fixing them & selling on ebay/locally.

There are a few places that specialise in recycling discarded electrical stuff & selling on ebay. If there is anyone local, it may be worth talking to them, both about getting scrap stuff, and maybe testing fixing stuff to incerase its value. There is an Ebay sellier in St Neots specialising in medical stuff (user lab-med) 

Also get to know any local scrap metal places & ask them to let you know about any electronic stuff that comes in.
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2015, 09:42:55 am »
Also, get involved in stuff like hackerspaces, dorkbot, http://therestartproject.org/ etc. I'm sure some of the Cambridge colleges must have some public talks, educational events etc that may be worth investigating.
BTW colleges may also be good sources of scrapped equipment etc. 
It's often about who you know as much as what.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2015, 09:44:11 am »
BTW, there are such events, as "job fairs", check details here.
http://www.thejobfairs.co.uk/job-fairs
It seems that it is going to be an event in May in Cambridge. I think that it wouldn't hurt if you visit one of them and talk to people.

They are worth going to even without trying/needing to find a job. They will help you get a feel for what's around, what's needed, and what people are looking for in candidates.

Also consider local hackspaces. They will often have equipment that you can't afford or don't understand or don't have room for. They will always have people that can offer advice and guidance - but only you can work out whether the advice/guidance is right for you.

Definitely get the qualifications at the normal time. For some unknown reasons employers "look down on" people that have got the same qualifications later in life.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline DmitryL

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2015, 09:49:14 am »
Oh, yes. I forgot about hackspaces.
Here is one in cambridge:
http://www.cambridgehackspace.com/


 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2015, 10:21:40 am »
May also be worth talking to all the local small independent mobile phone/computer shops. That seems to be one area where repair still happens.
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Offline Galenbo

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2015, 11:55:51 am »
...I've been into electronics for some time,
...I want a job in electronics because
...otherwise I would just ask around the small shops near here.

Can you please specify what you mean by "into electronics", "a job", etcetera?
I remember cellphone magasine fanboys calling themselves "into electronics", and TV salesmen saying they have "a job in electronics".

Are you targeting PCB design? Did you discover all related freeware? What are your accomplishments? Of what components do you read/know the specs? Did you assemble some kit and did modifications so it has better or more functions? Do you have other expieriences? What did you make, develop, assemble?

Many of us did such things at your age. Mostly no rocket science, but passionately searching solutions for small problems.

Get in detail, post it on internet, document it with pictures and description. It's the same for all of us, 14 years or 41 years old.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 11:59:27 am by Galenbo »
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Offline JackP

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2015, 04:41:12 pm »
Thanks again for these great replies,
In regard to the comments surrounding hangar work, unfortunately I fly from Cranfield which is about half an hour away by car. I am not in a position to make my way there due to travel arrangements and my parents being very busy most of the time. TBH, another reason for getting a job is to make them proud of my independence. It is annoying, because my family has a history of avionic work (including my Dad, who works at Luton). The same problem is for Hackerspaces and University talks; I just can't commit because of the logistical problems.

  My dream job (at this time) would be working in a small shop as an odd job guy. The flexibility of that would mean I would learn about all aspects of electronics, improving soldering, design and repair skills. I want to keep my options open, though, as I would appreciate anything that is available to me. I wouldn't mind working at a repair shop, but even small companies tend to not reply to emails. I might end up just asking face to face to get a straight answer. Maybe someone has tips about phrasing and titling emails to companies? Previously, I have just said a bit about myself, what I can and can't do etc., but maybe that is too in depth and it seems like I am trying to BS them?

  At this point, I would look for a normal job thanks to some of your advice, but even they are hard to find, and I don't really want to be another teen in McDonalds. Another key part of wanting a specific(ish) job is that it could lead somewhere in the future; I understand experience and contacts are as key in this industry as many others.

  I have to agree with tggzz, not having a PSU has meant that the Arduino is now in frequent use as a 5v supply than a MCU! It is amazing what you can do with bottom range gear and a few household appliances. Have yet to 'mess about' with mains stuff, a bit intimidated, but all in due course!
Thanks again,
Jack
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Any place for a kid in an electronics job?
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2015, 04:45:37 pm »
approach a local tv repair shop. even if it is only to sort resistors in the bins. you will learn something.

at 14 i was repairing car radio's for a local installer. i got so good at it that by age 16 i was doing all warranty repairs for the brand
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