Author Topic: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?  (Read 2401 times)

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Offline catseye

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How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« on: March 13, 2021, 05:56:22 pm »
Hi, I'm about to graduate from TU Dresden with a master's in electronics engineering.

My main focus was wireless communication systems, which turned out to be a lot of software and little hardware.
I do have an interest in hardware design though as it was what got me into EE In the first place. I do know a couple of programming languages and my 6 month internship was more on the continuous integration infrastructure / investigation of some OFDM extensions for 5G.

I've started to look for jobs recently and I'm facing the problem that most hardware design jobs want 5+ years relevant experience which makes me wonder how a recent grad gets into a hardware design job in the first place? It's a chicken and egg problem.
I didn't really get that much experience with expensive tools (Altium, VNAs, Specans etc.) that just aren't  available to the hobbyist/students. The Professors and PhDs at University won't let you touch the equipment because they're afraid you'll break their 100k+ VNA.

Is the 5+ years experience just a scare tactic? Otherwise I really don't see any recent grad positions that aren't software jobs.

Finally, if you know of some companies in the Berlin area that are hiring? The only one I'm really aware of is Tesla in Grünheide.

« Last Edit: March 13, 2021, 06:06:57 pm by catseye »
 

Online tszaboo

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2021, 06:53:08 pm »
They ask for 5 year experience, because they want someone who can do a project from start to finish. Meaning that they expect you to know what to do, and concentrate on the engineering. It is possible at smaller companies that you would be the only EE, with zero help or oversight. It's not just routing the boards, there are a lot of experience in component selection, negotiating with suppliers, maintaining a version control system, legal documentation or certifying the product to some standard (and nobody will tell you which one you actually need)
They are clearly not a junior position. If I see a junior apply to a more senior position, I throw that CV away.

Go for a company with a larger engineering team. If they have 3-4 EE people, some maybe in their 40s thats usually OK. These companies often times dont advertise their jobs, but they employ head hunters for the job position. Or they have HR looking for jobs. Or they hire from university directly, job fare for example. Maybe ask around in the alumni as well.

You can get a student Altium license.

And yes, there is an buttload of software jobs nowadays. As an alternative tactic, you can start as a FW engineer, and then go into a HW job. Maybe within the company, or you accumulate some experience so they dont immediately send you away. Hardware takes more knowledge than software (some people will disagree but whatever).
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Offline catseye

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2021, 08:03:50 pm »
Thank you for the reply.

They ask for 5 year experience, because they want someone who can do a project from start to finish. Meaning that they expect you to know what to do, and concentrate on the engineering. It is possible at smaller companies that you would be the only EE, with zero help or oversight.

That sounds fair enough, still the question is, at some point a newbie has to get started somewhere. The positions I've been looking at also were bigger companies in the automotive sector so not a one-man engineering team type of shop.
 

Online tggzzz

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« Last Edit: June 10, 2021, 01:38:12 pm by tggzzz »
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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Online tszaboo

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2021, 10:27:28 pm »
Thank you for the reply.

They ask for 5 year experience, because they want someone who can do a project from start to finish. Meaning that they expect you to know what to do, and concentrate on the engineering. It is possible at smaller companies that you would be the only EE, with zero help or oversight.

That sounds fair enough, still the question is, at some point a newbie has to get started somewhere. The positions I've been looking at also were bigger companies in the automotive sector so not a one-man engineering team type of shop.
I never worked at an automotive company, and I dont think I want to. I had a job interview with Bosch. They wanted to place me into a group of engineers, their 3 year project was making a 12V BMS with CAN. Measures the voltage and current and all that.

I probably could draw something on the spot that would do the job. But for them this is a huge job with thousands of man hours to do. There will be like a months spend by a poor guy trying to optimize out a resistor. Because they sell 10 million of them, and the resistor costs 1 cent, so it is worth them to spend months trying to remove that resistor. It's not my kind of work, that is where creativity goes to die.
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Offline penfold

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2021, 11:00:21 pm »
Sometimes jobs are listed from mangled cut and pasted job specs, the expertise/responsibilities and the experience necessary may just have been carried over from other similar jobs. If you speak to some recruiters directly they generally know a lot more detail about the roles and often there will be some flexibility, and these recruiters will often have regular meetings with various companies where they'll find out about possible upcoming roles and likewise the recruiter can let them know about people looking for jobs with specific skills. None of my permanent jobs were ever officially advertised and only came about during discussion between the companies and recruiters.

Just bear in mind though that with recruiters, there are some evil ones out there who will lie to the company and to you, but some are good ones, its just important to be honest and transparent and call them out if they've mis-sold you.
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2021, 02:45:19 pm »
Quote
that is where creativity goes to die

Strange! I would think you'd need a fair bit of creativity to find a way to eliminate that resistor. After all, if it were simple it's already wouldn't be there.
 

Offline coppice

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2021, 02:51:04 pm »
Is the 5+ years experience just a scare tactic? Otherwise I really don't see any recent grad positions that aren't software jobs.
No, its not a scare tactic. What would be the point of that? It means they want someone experienced. However, people looking for someone experienced are often starting a new team, and will also want some junior people. Its worth investigating this. Did you take part in any recruitment events at your college? A reason you don't see many starter jobs advertised is companies recruit most of their fresh graduate intake directly from colleges with a decent track record producing good graduates needed by their business areas.
 

Offline m98

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2021, 10:40:05 pm »
This is where networking comes to play. Seriously, even if you only go to some university job fare and are half-knowledgeable about the industries and products of the exhibiting companies, you won't be able to save yourself from job offers.
 

Offline GodIsRealUnless DefinedInt

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2021, 11:06:51 pm »
Also toss your hat in with Open Source Hardware projects. Just like with Software its an easy-to-entry path to get something you can hang on your CV/Resume to give you credential with a project or multiple projects.
 

Offline virtualparticles

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2021, 02:24:09 pm »
Is the 5+ years experience just a scare tactic? Otherwise I really don't see any recent grad positions that aren't software jobs.
No, its not a scare tactic. What would be the point of that? It means they want someone experienced. However, people looking for someone experienced are often starting a new team, and will also want some junior people. Its worth investigating this. Did you take part in any recruitment events at your college? A reason you don't see many starter jobs advertised is companies recruit most of their fresh graduate intake directly from colleges with a decent track record producing good graduates needed by their business areas.

@coppice nailed it. I'm hiring for an engineering team and I'm OK with a "fresh-out" if they're stellar, but I really do want someone with RF design experience. (I'm with a VNA company) I don't have a lot of time to mentor people and I have critical deadlines. If I spend all my time teaching, then I can't even do the needed work myself. Feel free to apply though, you can DM me.
 

Offline ocset

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2021, 01:24:36 pm »
if you know software and want hardware work...then try for BLDC motor control jobs...which is kind of hardware....but is all software controlled.
But the solution to your problem, is get any job in electronics you can, and then put it on your cv, and then use it to apply for jobs that you want..........even a few months as a PCB assembler will make you more attractive to a hardware place.

And what about setting up on your own........design  say, a SMPS LED driver based  light bulb with a switch on it so that people can reduce the power......order the parts, build it, then try and get funding to produce it....you will fail to get funding...we all do........but put it on your cv anyway that you did it...it'll  catch some employers eye.

Better still, buy a BLDC and build an inverter and program it to drive the BLDC with a load jig....but thtas truly expensive, so maybe you have to do the lightbulb.

By the way, you might just have to put up with going to work somewhere near where you live right now...for some reason....especially when your a junior, its far easier to get work within commutable distance of where you live now.

So pick up that first job experience like this perhaps.

Also, you are in Dresden....what about moving to Berlin or the Rhein-Hohne canal region?...near Duisburg....those areas are very industrialised, and if you live there already  then you always have more chance of getting into a electronics place.......Already living reasonably near is a much bigger factor than you would think...especially for junior jobs.

Dresden is very remote....i think you need to move away.
..................................
By the way, you write English like a Native, its very good, i take it that you are from UK?
They may be against you because of not knowing Brexit situation?
Maybe you widen your search to Netherlands/belgium/swiss/germany.....just to start you off.
Goodness forbid, you could even  come back to UK....but i woudlnt blame you if you wanted to stay there.

...
Also, apply for shed loads of jobs on the jobsites......recruiters will track you and pick up that you are hungry for work....so get churning out shedloads of job apps for any job thats kind of in the area that you want.

But also, i am surprised that you dont stay in software, where you seem  to already have experience.....surely that is your best chance?...then maybe later if you want to you can see an oppo to move into hardware....or maybe you will get payed so much in software you will just stay there?

By the way, what sort of hardware do you want to get into?...remember a lot of hardware has been farmed out to the  Far East...eg a lot of power supply design...not all of course.

I know a lot of embedded software engineers who design all the hardware that they interface with also...even do the little smps's that power their micro and circuitry

Quote
My main focus was wireless communication systems, which turned out to be a lot of software and little hardware.
I do have an interest in hardware design though as it was what got me into EE In the first place. I do know a couple of programming languages and my 6 month internship was more on the continuous integration infrastructure / investigation of some OFDM extensions for 5G.
..forgive me for saying, but you sound like a software engineer who wants out....and people may wonder why you want to change...and if you do change to hardware, will you not want another change later?...they may think like this.

I do not know what level you are at in software...but if it was only really simple stuff you did, then i can understand you may want to change.....but employers are going to be looking for your experience base...and for you, at the moment, it looks like software.....so that surely would be your area of most job chances.....or are you saying that your skill level in software is not so good?,  and that you think you will get further if you go into hardware?

If you are a whizz at software then i woudl stick with that....if not, then perhaps apply for shedloads of jobs in software and hardware, and just take the first one that comes up...it'll be a start. Its awkward if you try to be too picky in the first place.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2021, 05:20:05 pm by treez »
 

Offline ocset

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Re: How does a recent grad find a job doing hardware design?
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2021, 01:00:46 pm »
Anyway, you say you want hardware......but your experience base is in software.......so why dont you try for jobs in "embedded software"......you will then be writing code to closely control the hardware around your micro.
And (specially if you are in UK), i can garantee you that your company will not have hardware engineers who can design all the hardware,............so that will give you your chance to elope into hardware.....if you want to.

Why am i helping  you?....well, once you get  yourself a tasty job in say the super-industrialised Ruhr Region of Germany, you can write me a nice reference to get me over there too...(only joking!)...mind you, that area round Duisburg, Wuppertal, Essen etc etc, looks like any Electronics Engineer's paradise....hardware or software....or both!

Also, by the way, for many years ive been thinking of setting up an autonomous vehicle company, with robots to do stuff like paint walls etc......i reckon i could write the software specs to control the BLDCs etc......and between us we could design the robots. Maybe you can get some grant from the German Engineering ministry and we can get started on this?.......i mean........Germany is the best place to do this sort of thing....send an email to your local politician or Engineering minister...cant hurt to try?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2021, 01:09:37 pm by treez »
 


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