Author Topic: Considering a career change.  (Read 7358 times)

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Offline GK

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Considering a career change.
« on: August 18, 2015, 01:50:00 pm »
At 38 years of age I have come to the conclusion that electronics in general is a shit profession. I won't go into my current situation other than mentioning that I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck. 

The problem is, besides a side job as a Chinese takeaway delivery driver when a high school student and a brief run as a RF products production assembler for my first full-time job, I've never done anything else.

I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking. So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management. Trust me, I've worked in close enough proximity to that side of business for long enough that my cynicism with regards to the necessary prerequisites and personal qualities is now unshakable.

I think that I would derive a lot of personal satisfaction from contributing in an occupational role to something worthwhile like a charity, but I'm not a lovey-dovey people person, so I can't imagine in what capacity.

So what have other electronics geeks out there (if any) who have suffered from a similar pre-mid-life crisis moved on (found their general demeanor and skill set transferable) to?
   





« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 01:55:14 pm by GK »
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Offline Dinsdale

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2015, 05:54:47 pm »
     Exactly my experience from a 24 year career in electronics. I was fortunate that the majority of the engineers I worked with over the years were excellent designers and very creative. Together, we did some pretty cool stuff. It took me about 14 years to realize that technical achievements do not count for much and that only moving into management would get you anywhere. Even so, my career advanced pretty well up until the DOT COM crash. Then it was like I was entry level again.  With all the H1B activity, I really feel sorry for anyone in this field on a professional level.
     I retrained for GIS. GIS was "grounded" at your location, required local/regional presence, and had a lot of similarities to tasks in electrical engineering. I held on to a 7-year job which got me up to retirement before the layoff. A pretty active field when I entered it, GIS seems to now be consolidating workers into fewer and fewer service organizations. The region I worked in has stopped its yearly orthographic aerial photography projects. But there may be something there for you.
     If you are working in electronics now, I would try to build on that (until you can figure something else out). Specialize in some field to make yourself more valuable. From you WEB site, it seems that you are fairly well specialized now, or that you are easily capable of becoming specialized.  Doing things that allow you to "stand-out" technically helps. If you can't "ass kiss", you can still make upper management look good. Just be sure they know it was you that solved the technical problems.
     Electronics is a great field to be in for personal satisfaction. But your boss and your organization are never going to really care about your contributions. You're just a Human Resource. And that's true almost everywhere. If you don't expect anything, you will not be disappointed when you don't get anything. Just take the "salary continuation plan" to be the only recognition you will ever get (or need).
     (Oh, yeah, database gurus always seem to be in demand.)
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2015, 07:10:30 pm »
@GK: what are your skills? Any thoughts on becoming self employed? Being self employed is the longest job I managed to stay in!
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Offline hans

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2015, 09:24:11 pm »
I really wonder if there are more people that recognize in OP's statements, because I do and I'm only working very-part-time for 3 years.

It seems that the skilled, likely educated but above all passionate technical people work their ass of to get the job done, while the manager with no education (that happened to be at the right seat at the right time during a company take over to get free promotion) takes all the credit.
E.g. I worked extensively for a project that only had a few weeks time of opportunity left (to leave space for testing & certification). It was done in time, integration & testing went very smooth, little to no field problems, division sales are the highest of all, yet no reward & eng. manager considers the quarterly performance as "average".
I'm also probably a bit negatively biased towards EE as a job right now, as I will likely quit that job (for a series of reasons) in 1-2 weeks, and been thinking about the next step. I'm not sure if most other companies will be better to work for.. Probably very likely; after all one of the reasons I quit; question is whether it is manageable to maintain.

I also considered switching to embedded firmware and maybe later even to software, while keeping electronics design as a hobby. However I'm not sure if software/firmware is different at all; it is likely to work the same way I think.

Will watch this thread closely :-//
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 09:28:01 pm by hans »
 

Offline JackP

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2015, 10:30:06 pm »
If you consider working for yourself, you can obviously offer your services on a freelance basis.mbut I would seriously consider creating an information product. Heck, even if you change industries, spend a few hours a week on it, and you could make some serious bucks on the side. From what I've gathered from your posts, you are an extremely intelligent engineer, and definitely have the skills. I know it may seem like a niche product, but I think people will pay for things like 'advanced PCB design' or an insight into the mystery of RF design (and if not, link to your posts on here about your computer designs).

The great thing is, you don't need to be active to earn money, and with a growing audience and a few high quality guides I think you will do well. Maybe not completely self-sufficient well, but definitely a decent supplement. This isn't a sales post, but just think about it, I reckon you have skills people would pay to learn.
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Offline G0HZU

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2015, 11:01:10 pm »
Quote
I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking. So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management. Trust me, I've worked in close enough proximity to that side of business for long enough that my cynicism with regards to the necessary prerequisites and personal qualities is now unshakable.

To avoid these types you could consider staying within electronics and joining a small startup company. The best years of my career were when the company was still small and lean and the engineering side of things was self managed. We generally did customer funded research work producing low volume state of the art prototypes. This was mostly RF comms related but we also did some fairly wacky research work for some establishments. It was a fabulous working environment and engineers were treated as 'special' because it was so obvious that the company revenue all stemmed from raw engineering talent.

Sadly, it's no longer like this because the company expanded massively 10 years ago. The non technical corporate types have taken over in vast numbers and they just want sales and profit. Engineers are no longer understood/respected and get treated as just another disposable resource. The company is now insanely top heavy in managers and support staff and there are loads of people with bizarre job titles within this group. It's as if these senior people get recruited and then realise they can't 'do anything useful' so they recruit more staff to support them. I suspect that this is a fairly typical scenario in many electronics companies today.

Quote
I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck.
Yes, that's now how it is for many of the engineering staff where I work :( I've seen quite a few talented (but disillusioned) engineers leave the profession to do some very odd things instead. I don't think it's worth listing these alternative careers because they are so mundane and random in nature.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 12:47:01 am by G0HZU »
 

Offline GK

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2015, 09:04:06 am »
To avoid these types you could consider staying within electronics and joining a small startup company.


Very few and far between here in sleepy Adelaide and the handful that I've either known of or had dealings with fizzled out before not very long.


Yes, that's now how it is for many of the engineering staff where I work :( I've seen quite a few talented (but disillusioned) engineers leave the profession to do some very odd things instead. I don't think it's worth listing these alternative careers because they are so mundane and random in nature.


I have a forklift license and am licensed to drive a truck up to 15 tonnes (MR class). I could earn a better salary as a truck driver.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 09:17:00 am by GK »
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Offline coppice

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2015, 09:16:04 am »
Quote
I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking. So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management. Trust me, I've worked in close enough proximity to that side of business for long enough that my cynicism with regards to the necessary prerequisites and personal qualities is now unshakable.

To avoid these types you could consider staying within electronics and joining a small startup company. The best years of my career were when the company was still small and lean and the engineering side of things was self managed. We generally did customer funded research work producing low volume state of the art prototypes. This was mostly RF comms related but we also did some fairly wacky research work for some establishments. It was a fabulous working environment and engineers were treated as 'special' because it was so obvious that the company revenue all stemmed from raw engineering talent.

Sadly, it's no longer like this because the company expanded massively 10 years ago. The non technical corporate types have taken over in vast numbers and they just want sales and profit. Engineers are no longer understood/respected and get treated as just another disposable resource. The company is now insanely top heavy in managers and support staff and there are loads of people with bizarre job titles within this group. It's as if these senior people get recruited and then realise they can't 'do anything useful' so they recruit more staff to support them. I suspect that this is a fairly typical scenario in many electronics companies today.
A key difference between small and large companies is if you hit a personality problem in a large company it can often be mitigated or sidestepped. In a small company is a complete roadblock. Small and startup companies have many good qualities, that their proponents love to point out. Having worked in both large and small companies I think they both have their good and bad qualities.
Quote
I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck.
Yes, that's now how it is for many of the engineering staff where I work :( I've seen quite a few talented (but disillusioned) engineers leave the profession to do some very odd things instead. I don't think it's worth listing these alternative careers because they are so mundane and random in nature.
30 years ago in the UK a steady stream of disillusioned engineers used to leave to run pubs. I guess they thought they'd learned enough about the trade as regular customers. Now the pub business seems to be in decline, so where do they go now? :-)
 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2015, 10:59:13 am »
I have a forklift license and am licensed to drive a truck up to 15 tonnes (MR class). I could earn a better salary as a truck driver.
...and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking.
...so they will not give you the best routes, and others will make more money, or more easyly.

At 38 years of age I have come to the conclusion that electronics in general is a shit profession.
Doing whatever for an inbetween-boss in a big company is a shit profession. What I read is that you don't dislike the art, but the circumstances.

So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management.
But it doesn't rule you out to be the CEO.

Become CEO. Start your own company. Search for an example of somebody who started 5 years ago and is happy now.
Do (nearly) the same.
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Offline Delta

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2015, 11:36:28 am »
I jacked in my job as an electronics tech back in january and have been working as a self employed joiner since.  😀

I think I will go back to electronics at some point, but it's been a brilliant break!
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 12:54:36 pm »
An electronics engineer dies and gets into heaven. He was a good and faithful engineer right to the end.
God asks him, "So, what did you do with your life?"
Engineers answers, "Well God, I worked for IBM for 40 years."
God replies, "You didn't answer the question."

Seriously, this young fellow Jessie Martin who at 17 sailed solo around the world, made the comment along the lines of, "If I had died at sea, that is not a tragedy. I died doing what I wanted to do. A tragedy is a man in his old age looks back and says 'What have I done with my life?'"
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 01:15:22 pm by VK3DRB »
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2015, 01:14:39 pm »
Some say a change is as good as a holiday.
Others say you don't know what you have lost until it is gone.

I left electronics for about two years in the late 90's. The job was working with corporate execs at IBM in the US and Japan and flying business class around the world. Money was no object. I helped save the company US $100 million in the first year. But I hated it! I did well but I was not happy. I missed the oscilloscope, the meter and creating hardware and writing code. I will remain a hands-on EE for life if I can help it. So for me, it was a case of you don't know what you have lost until it is gone, but at least I explored possibities.

Others might be different. There is only one way to find out is to take the risk and do something different. You might never look back, or gravitate back to the craft of electronics. I know one bloke who left EE to run a lawn mowing business with his son. He loves it. Another bloke became a self-employed local handy man. He loves his new job and vowed never to return to electronics engineering. But there are risks. Another bloke I know left EE to become a self employed Lotus Notes expert. He did well for many years, but now few companies use Lotus Notes any more. Work has dried up and he is trying to find a job as an employee, without success.

Another question to ask is if you could live your life again, would you become an electronics engineer?

You are only 38. A good time to explore other opportunities. You have another 30 years left in you at least. Self employment can be very rewarding too but it isn't for everyone.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 01:16:49 pm by VK3DRB »
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2015, 01:30:19 pm »
@OP
Consider getting into Information Security business. This is in demand and not likely to decline for many years ahead. It also may have substantial technical content.
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Offline envisionelec

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2015, 06:25:45 pm »
At 38 years of age I have come to the conclusion that electronics in general is a shit profession. I won't go into my current situation other than mentioning that I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck. 

The problem is, besides a side job as a Chinese takeaway delivery driver when a high school student and a brief run as a RF products production assembler for my first full-time job, I've never done anything else.

I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking. So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management. Trust me, I've worked in close enough proximity to that side of business for long enough that my cynicism with regards to the necessary prerequisites and personal qualities is now unshakable.

I think that I would derive a lot of personal satisfaction from contributing in an occupational role to something worthwhile like a charity, but I'm not a lovey-dovey people person, so I can't imagine in what capacity.

So what have other electronics geeks out there (if any) who have suffered from a similar pre-mid-life crisis moved on (found their general demeanor and skill set transferable) to?
   

I just turned 39. I have owned a business doing electronics, spent a lot of time as a hobbyist on electronics and now...work for an electronics company. I have worked for large and small companies; both Fortune 500 and Fortune 0.0001. I am happiest with small companies doing small orders for big money. My goals in life were to be "famous" as in having either hired people to work for me or designing a product which would be known worldwide. I have done both and although none of my ideas reaped actual fame, I am satisfied that my goals were reached. Some people can't say that. Hell, MOST people can't say that. Aiming high and missing the bulls-eye is a lot more interesting than not aiming at all. No risk, no reward as they say. It's true! The reward isn't necessarily monetary, but psychological. I can appreciate that I just have to think about my success than be forced to look around a see it in the material things I have accumulated.

So what do I do now? I rear my children. I had my fun and now it's "dad's turn" to work for the next 15 years on getting my kids to a successful life. I work less and play more. I won't lie and say it's the most fun I've had in my life, but it is rewarding. It's just a new challenge and I love a challenge.
 

Offline eas

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2015, 09:37:37 pm »
At 38 years of age I have come to the conclusion that electronics in general is a shit profession. I won't go into my current situation other than mentioning that I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck. 

The problem is, besides a side job as a Chinese takeaway delivery driver when a high school student and a brief run as a RF products production assembler for my first full-time job, I've never done anything else.

I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking. So that rules me out of any kind of competitive environment such as corporate or even much lower-level management. Trust me, I've worked in close enough proximity to that side of business for long enough that my cynicism with regards to the necessary prerequisites and personal qualities is now unshakable.

Don't sell yourself short. The contempt and lack of empathy for others you display suggest that you too can be a psychopath! You just need to figure out what it really is that is holding you back!

Or, perhaps better for (almost) everyone, if you find another way out of your current conundrum.

I'll suggest that you start by reconsidering your cynicism, and the path that led you there. I obviously haven't had your experience, but consider that someone who seems conniving could be forgetfulness (leading to saying one thing and doing another), or to constantly adjusting to new information in pursuit of a high level goal, rather than sticking to an old plan that will ultimately lead to failure. Consider that arsehole-licking could be a way of avoiding misunderstanding in the present, and making sure that any future misunderstanding isn't catastrophic.

Also consider that naked self-interest, while it can be offputting, is often easier for others to deal with than simmering resentment.

I'm not dismissing your feelings here. I think I've had similar feelings.

Quote
I think that I would derive a lot of personal satisfaction from contributing in an occupational role to something worthwhile like a charity, but I'm not a lovey-dovey people person, so I can't imagine in what capacity.

So what have other electronics geeks out there (if any) who have suffered from a similar pre-mid-life crisis moved on (found their general demeanor and skill set transferable) to?

I'm not an electronics geek. I was more a software and services project/product manager. My own mid-life crisis has actually led me to electronics, but more from the point of view of gaining skills to make me more self-sufficient for my own projects/products.

I may well end up returning to doing similar work to that I was doing before, but if I do, I still think I'll have benefitted tremendously from making a change for a while. Its helped me gain perspective on a lot of my frustrations in past jobs, the scars they left, and about my own strengths and weaknesses, including strengths that had languished and atrophied.

One thing I've realized, is that even if I end up taking another full time job, I'll never let myself get in a position where I'm just working for the next paycheck - I'm either working towards a goal, or, I'm containing my risk. No more sticking stuff out for 6 months in hopes it will get better. Either I make the job better, i'm banking money/experience for another purpose, or I start looking for a new one. If I'm ever wondering what the upside is, or wondering when the downside is going to hit bottom, I'm overdue for making changes, either in the job, or into a new one.

So, I heartily suggest that you try making changes. Before I ever left my job, I started going to meetups/meetings/conferences on subjects that had some interest to me. A few months of learning new things, meeting new people, all helped me see a path out of a job I'd felt stuck in for over a year.

Whatever you do, I think you'll do yourself good by reconsidering your relationship to your work, your co-workers and managers. Without that, I think chances are good that you'll quickly come to feel just as frustrated and disillusioned as you do now, in any job.

Oh, some little thought exercises: 

If you were doing what you are doing now, in the same sort of environment, how much do you think you'd have to be paid for you to be happy when you head off to work every morning, and when you get home every night?

If that's hard to do, think of the worst job you can think of, say cleaning public toilets, then figure out what your price is to be happy to do it.

Think of one thing, which, if it were changed, would make your present job and compensation bearable.

What kind of job would you be happy doing for 75% of your current compensation?

« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 09:44:31 pm by eas »
 

Offline GK

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2015, 02:56:07 am »
Quote
Don't sell yourself short. The contempt and lack of empathy for others you display suggest that you too can be a psychopath!


I find it amusing and irritating in lopsided measure (strongly favoring the latter) that contempt is almost as a rule considered synonymous with a lack of empathy. If I had to conceive of the most objectionably vacuous and uninsightful moron imaginable it would be the perpetually cheerful person with rose-tinted glasses who is genuinely effected by nothing but the perceived good in other peoples actions and behavior. But this is probably going off topic now.


Quote
I'll suggest that you start by reconsidering your cynicism, and the path that led you there. I obviously haven't had your experience, but consider that someone who seems conniving could be forgetfulness (leading to saying one thing and doing another), or to constantly adjusting to new information in pursuit of a high level goal, rather than sticking to an old plan that will ultimately lead to failure. Consider that arsehole-licking could be a way of avoiding misunderstanding in the present, and making sure that any future misunderstanding isn't catastrophic.


::)


Also consider that naked self-interest, while it can be offputting, is often easier for others to deal with than simmering resentment.

I'm not dismissing your feelings here. I think I've had similar feelings.


I have neither naked self-interest/ambition nor simmering resentment. Having been at it now for 17 years I think that my chosen profession in general sucks (for reasons I don't feel the need to elaborate upon and justify) and am seriously considering a major change; it's not much more complicated than that.

For some reason I just fantasized in an emotional brain fart that it might be productive to inquire as to what alternative professions similarly "technically" minded persons may have possibly pursued, but in hindsight this was probably a more stupid than smart thread topic to start.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 02:58:02 am by GK »
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Offline retrolefty

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2015, 03:17:58 am »
Quote
I'm not a psychopath, a conniving Yes Man and I have a profound aversion to arsehole-licking.

 I was never ever asked at work to "arsehole-lick" anyone, is that a down-under thing?  :-DD

However I did meet several people that did not work well with others.
 

Offline G0HZU

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2015, 01:36:59 pm »
Quote
For some reason I just fantasized in an emotional brain fart that it might be productive to inquire as to what alternative professions similarly "technically" minded persons may have possibly pursued

FWIW I have often wondered if the 'dream team' of fabulously talented engineers that founded the company I work for >30yrs ago had (instead) turned their collective engineering talent towards the field of medical research then this could have delivered a much more significant contribution to society.

The awful truth is that the bulk of the revenue from their engineering efforts lined the pockets of the shareholders and they mainly engineered comms based products to satisfy the needs of customers.

So today they are retired and fairly rich but probably everything they engineered is now obsolete or has been recycled.

I do RF research work because it is rewarding for 'me' and I'm lucky in that I don't need the salary any more so I work short hours per week. Traditionally the fruits of my labour (and the labour from from similar engineers) were used in products sold by the company. However, the company has grown enormously and is now run by beancounters and other annoying corporate types rather than the original dream team of engineers. These corporate types have sucked the engineering life out of the company with their rules and restrictions and 'business oriented' reasoning. Engineers have been leaving (or have been made redundant) and the company is slowly losing its grey matter even though the beancounters can still make the graphs look good by downsizing and massaging the figures.

So I'm in a similar dilemma to yourself  :(

« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 01:48:55 pm by G0HZU »
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: Considering a career change.
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2015, 09:33:53 am »
Quote
At 38 years of age I have come to the conclusion that electronics in general is a shit profession. I won't go into my current situation other than mentioning that I am thoroughly over the lack of appreciation and remuneration for services delivered in the neglected technical stream in which I am stuck.

Ha, that sounds just like things I've said in most electronics and coding jobs I've had. There were about, oh... 4, that for a while were fun, but even the good ones invariably turned bad in the end. I ended up taking 'early retirement' around 2008, and since then have been poor, but doing stuff I enjoy and want to do.

The problem wasn't 'electronics' itself as a profession. It was *always* the economic system and tendency of shit to float - ie management are usually incompetent arseholes, and business objectives are usually short sighted profit hungry stupidities. I got sick of spending my life working for fools. And watching years tick past without achieving anything socially useful. Even when the salary (or contract rate) was good, no amount of money is worth throwing significant chunks of your allotted years down a drain. Especially when you're getting close to the end of your useful creative life. Which, having just turned 60, I definitely am.

Anyway... your electronics skills are pretty impressive. Why don't you stick with them, but direct your efforts and goals yourself?

It's been apparent to me for years, that with dirt cheap micros, components, PCBs and manufacturing available freely to anyone via China, and the potentials of online direct marketting, anyone with the skills to create salable electronics products who isn't taking advantage of such resources is just not trying.

I've been occupied with some personal life and medical problems, as well as getting a workshop/lab finished on a shoestring. But now beginning one project that should be salable. One out of a pile of ideas accumulated over the years. The plan is to just keep trying ideas, while enjoying myself. If they don't work, on to the next. And not one pinhead management type in sight.
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