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I am approaching the end of my studies and soon will have master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on Computer Engineering (Germany).

I am currently thinking about my degree in EE as just a mix of certain skills, especially learning how to learn and the hacking and tinkering mindset. Of course, I have a lot of very valuable knowledge in certain narrow aspects, but my general abilities to tackle and solve problems, is my biggest strength, especially considering my interdisciplinary background (extracurricular activity, research activities, interests). However, I am having a hard time making this transition. My university, my environment and my biases are build to push me into the typical EE domain where I would start my career at one of the top German Engineering companies. Still, I don’t see myself there and am trying to make the shift. I’m inspired by many physicists, who are often hired, not for their knowledge in certain topics of physics, but more for their ability to tackle and analyse problems.

The typical software and hardware development is definitely in my interest, but I’m looking for a big social component. I have wide range, and see myself as a generalist.


What are existing roles where I might be a good fit? Do I end up in more general positions anyways during the progress of my career?

I’m in general looking for advice of good positions and your experience, considering my strength in management and interdisciplinary skills. Nevertheless where a background in a STEM field might give me an edge.

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    Your description of your skills and interests is a bit too generic and vague to recommend specific roles. For instance, what specific skills does this "wide range" of yours encompass? Also, it might be helpful to know why you "don't see yourself" in an EE role, and what in particular attracts you to "social" or "management" roles. – meriton Jun 16 at 9:16
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    BTW, asking this question at your university's career counseling office may yield more targeted answers than asking random people on the internet. – meriton Jun 16 at 9:23
  • @meriton I see my strengths in my range - having a background, and the particular knowledge, but also bringing some social and management skills. Just being a highly specialized engineer is not my main interest and simply does not align best with my skills. Furthermore I want to have a big social components of my job - up to my current experience this is a big contributor to my overall satisfaction. – neural Jun 17 at 6:59
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I suggest that you start where your education prepared you for. You say that you are inspired by physicists that tackle and analyze problems, engineers do that also! Try to pick a company that has large projects (with large teams), you will have plenty of social activity interacting with the other team members (and also the negatives).

If you prove to the company that you are a generalist, you should have opportunities for growth as a Systems Engineer. A Systems engineer will often perform the top-level design and define requirements for the other engineering disciplines (EE, ME, SW, etc).

Finally, if you show leadership abilities, there will be opportunities to manage people or projects. I was an EE, and all of my supervisors and managers started out as engineers. Managing a project is another path, probably the most socially challenging path that I have discussed. You need to constantly interact with internal and/or external customers.

  • I've been thinking the same for a time. I'm just wondering if they are already positions which make this part of my everday job - like management and leadership. Probably small companies might give me the chance for a broader job, compared to highly specialized teams within a large company. What are your thoughts on this? – neural Jun 17 at 6:54
  • It is doubtful that any company will start you in a management or leadership role. You need at least a few years to prove that you are capable. And if somehow you were given a leadership role straight out of school, it would be difficult for you to be effective because the people who you were leading won't initially respect you. You need to earn respect by proving your technical and leadership abilities. – Mattman944 Jun 17 at 7:07
  • Yes, a smaller company will have broader job opportunities. Disadvantages of a small company: fewer people to learn from, or help you solve difficult problems. Politics are more difficult, if the top people don't like you, you won't go anywhere. – Mattman944 Jun 17 at 7:12
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While I like the other answer, I will suggest another direction based on my direct experience.

Since you're exiting University as a qualified professional, I'd advise you to look for trainee programs and similar things, especially from big companies.

You'll get the chance to test your leadership skills in a more controlled environment and have a support network of more senior managers to support you and get on a faster track to managerial positions, and - very important - get a feeling if you like it or not, and which parts of the "leadership" you don't like but can tolerate. Leading and influencing is NOT an easy job, and being directly responsible for people is the hardest part of the job, and it is something that is often overlooked by those who never held a people manager position.

The trainee programs also train you on a more generalistic approach to leadership and management, and will frequently involve interaction with senior employees with far more technical knowledge than you and you'll learn how to earn their respect even if they are there for a lifetime and you just arrived.

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