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Job selection

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Senior Manager
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Joined: 29 May 2008
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Schools: MIT
Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 19:50
I'm graduating from undergrad in May and am applying for jobs, and was hoping for some relevant input. I'm double majoring in mechanical engineering and math. I'm planning to apply to b-school in ~2-3 years or so with the goal of working in tech general management (eventually startups).

Here's my question: I had always figured that I would want to try and get into a design-engineering job right after undergrad, preferably in a rotational program, so that I could get a broad engineering experience and some project responsibility. Lately, I've been wondering if an operations/supply chain position might be better preparation for my long-term goals because 1) I might be able to see what it takes for a tech company to function on a higher level and 2) I might get a little bit more of a business perspective mixed into my experience.

Given that I think I would enjoy both job functions, what would you say are the pros/cons of the two options? Would it be a mistake to not go into more of a design position? Most of my intern experience is in design engineering for a defense contractor, so I obviously know less about operations/supply chain (but that's not to say I know a great deal about design engineering either).

Anyhow, any advice is greatly appreciated, especially considering that most of you have much more real-world experience than I do.

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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 20:14
smkrn wrote:
I'm graduating from undergrad in May and am applying for jobs, and was hoping for some relevant input. I'm double majoring in mechanical engineering and math. I'm planning to apply to b-school in ~2-3 years or so with the goal of working in tech general management (eventually startups).

Here's my question: I had always figured that I would want to try and get into a design-engineering job right after undergrad, preferably in a rotational program, so that I could get a broad engineering experience and some project responsibility. Lately, I've been wondering if an operations/supply chain position might be better preparation for my long-term goals because 1) I might be able to see what it takes for a tech company to function on a higher level and 2) I might get a little bit more of a business perspective mixed into my experience.

Given that I think I would enjoy both job functions, what would you say are the pros/cons of the two options? Would it be a mistake to not go into more of a design position? Most of my intern experience is in design engineering for a defense contractor, so I obviously know less about operations/supply chain (but that's not to say I know a great deal about design engineering either).

Anyhow, any advice is greatly appreciated, especially considering that most of you have much more real-world experience than I do.


If I recall correctly, your long-term goals were to be in technology general management. If this is still the case (and you think it will continue to be the case), I think you would be wise to take the design/development position. If you spend time actually doing engineering work, this builds a lot of credibility for later when you want to move into the general management side of things. Engineers and Tech companies tend to respect former engineers, who not only got an engineering degree, but also spent some time "in the trenches".

If your long-term goal may be, say consulting or operations, I would say the supply chain management gig may suit you better.
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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 20:27
In all honesty, I would not consider business school in choosing your first career step. Pick the job you think you'll enjoy most, can be most passionate enough, and can get great personal development experiences. Pick the job where you believe you fit in best with those you'll be working with, the job with the culture with most aligns with your goals in your early career.

Trying to plan your career out in order to get a job in 5 years is alright, but the world can change in a heartbeat (in some ways it already has) and all great plans can change. Choose the job on its own merits, with your long term career in mind, but not necessarily the overriding concern in this first job move.

In all honesty, both jobs could easily lead to tech general management via b-school. Its what you make of the job, not the job itself, that will determine whether you have success in both regards.

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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 21:37
I was in a similar situation as you in 2004 although I was an electrical engineering major. I fell into a Systems Engineering job for a defense contractor and my experience gave me a solid case for b-school. SE is not as "fun" from a pure engineering standpoint, but it offers you access to management at the junior level. I also participated in a rotation program that gave me a large network and exposure to more areas of the business. I highly suggest something like this to increase the odds of being recognized by key leaders (think future recommendations) and to broaden your experiences. IMHO if you want to exit in 2-5 years and you only have an undergrad degree, then your design experience will be pretty weak anyway. The best leaders may or may not have been designers, but they all understand the design process and how to recognize issues. Being "around" design is good enough if you are perceptive and proactive about understanding what works and what doesn't. The other important consideration is that successful engineering intensive businesses are really not just about engineering design. Most engineers lose sight of the fact that all the other functions are as, or often more, important than design (producibility, operations, supply chain, quality, configuration management, etc.). If you are confident that you don't want to be a long term technical engineer and will apply to b-school, then I would work hard to understand every element of the industry you start in while maintaining enough technical prowess so that designers don't scoff at you. Also, take advantage of everything the company offers and stand out amongst your peers. Training, volunteering, positions in clubs, etc. would all be great ammo for applications.

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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 22:17
Steel wrote:
In all honesty, I would not consider business school in choosing your first career step. Pick the job you think you'll enjoy most, can be most passionate enough, and can get great personal development experiences.


Well put!

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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 23:03
Thanks for all of the insight so far everyone. It is quite helpful to get the perspectives of other people.

Steel wrote:
In all honesty, I would not consider business school in choosing your first career step. Pick the job you think you'll enjoy most, can be most passionate enough, and can get great personal development experiences. Pick the job where you believe you fit in best with those you'll be working with, the job with the culture with most aligns with your goals in your early career.

Trying to plan your career out in order to get a job in 5 years is alright, but the world can change in a heartbeat (in some ways it already has) and all great plans can change. Choose the job on its own merits, with your long term career in mind, but not necessarily the overriding concern in this first job move.


I certainly see what you mean. I really think I'd like both jobs and I wouldn't be picking one just to "get me into b-school x." I was just thinking that if something like operations/supply chain might give me a leg up in my career in 5 years, why not do it? But you are right, things can change quickly. If I understand your views though, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to choose either function, right?

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Senior Manager
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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2009, 23:13
smkrn wrote:
Thanks for all of the insight so far everyone. It is quite helpful to get the perspectives of other people.

Steel wrote:
In all honesty, I would not consider business school in choosing your first career step. Pick the job you think you'll enjoy most, can be most passionate enough, and can get great personal development experiences. Pick the job where you believe you fit in best with those you'll be working with, the job with the culture with most aligns with your goals in your early career.

Trying to plan your career out in order to get a job in 5 years is alright, but the world can change in a heartbeat (in some ways it already has) and all great plans can change. Choose the job on its own merits, with your long term career in mind, but not necessarily the overriding concern in this first job move.


I certainly see what you mean. I really think I'd like both jobs and I wouldn't be picking one just to "get me into b-school x." I was just thinking that if something like operations/supply chain might give me a leg up in my career in 5 years, why not do it? But you are right, things can change quickly. If I understand your views though, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to choose either function, right?


Correct - I think you could sell either story in a very compelling way during your b-school applications. Your experiences on the job will drive the stories you can tell, not necessarily the path you choose.

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Re: Job selection [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jan 2009, 00:21
smkrn wrote:
I'm graduating from undergrad in May and am applying for jobs, and was hoping for some relevant input. I'm double majoring in mechanical engineering and math. I'm planning to apply to b-school in ~2-3 years or so with the goal of working in tech general management (eventually startups).

Here's my question: I had always figured that I would want to try and get into a design-engineering job right after undergrad, preferably in a rotational program, so that I could get a broad engineering experience and some project responsibility. Lately, I've been wondering if an operations/supply chain position might be better preparation for my long-term goals because 1) I might be able to see what it takes for a tech company to function on a higher level and 2) I might get a little bit more of a business perspective mixed into my experience.

Given that I think I would enjoy both job functions, what would you say are the pros/cons of the two options? Would it be a mistake to not go into more of a design position? Most of my intern experience is in design engineering for a defense contractor, so I obviously know less about operations/supply chain (but that's not to say I know a great deal about design engineering either).

Anyhow, any advice is greatly appreciated, especially considering that most of you have much more real-world experience than I do.


Hey,
Thought I would add my 2 cents into the whole mix. I work as a design engineer for a manufacturing firm. We specalize in custom machinery which poses a unique set of challenges from a design perspective. We have a common platform which we use to build upon to meet induvidual customer needs. All said and done it gives me an insight to both design and manufacturing as both are interdependent. Changes made to design widely reflect the functionality of the part but that said you keep manufacturing guidelines in mind to optimize design parameters. I personally think it is hard to isolate one factor from the other. I agree with steel where you need to pick a job where you feel comfortable and where you feel you can best showcase your ability. I applied to the LFM program this year and asked an adcom member what they looked for. There were people from Boeing, Dell where the scale of operations and manufacturing is much larger than what I have ever experienced.But she told me each induvidual experiences are different and the diversity is what makes the program unique. So from a Bschool perspective I would suggest pursuing something you are passionate about so when you do apply they can see that passion come through rather than a carrer that has been planned for B-School

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Re: Job selection   [#permalink] 03 Jan 2009, 00:21
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