Career Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by AML225, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. AML225 macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2010
    Hey guys, I was hoping I could get a few more points of view on a career decision I may have headed my way. Sorry for the long post.

    I’m currently working my first job out of college as a Mechanical Engineer. I started working for my current company the first week of November 2010. I work for Company A (don’t feel comfortable naming it) which is an outsourcing company that provides “Project Engineers” (their own title) for Pratt & Whitney (PW) in Connecticut. For those that don’t know PW is one of the major manufacturers of commercial and military jet engines. I spend most of my time at a desk inside PW, not at Company A. I know I’m still relatively new and I can’t ask for much but I’m discovering my job is less as an engineer and more as a glorified secretary. The majority of my work (when I have something to do) is maintaining spreadsheets and setting up meetings. Additionally, as an outsourced engineer, I only receive about 1/3rd of what PW bills Company A for my work. In 2011 my statement of work has me taking on significantly more tasks however I won’t see any bump in pay. In terms of average starting salaries for a mechanical engineer I’m way below the curve. Additionally, I spend a lot of time waiting around for things to do, I know they didn’t need another full head of work (hence them hiring an outsourced engineer, not a full time PW employee) but I can honestly say about 80% of my time is waiting for work to come my way with nothing to do. When work does come it’s almost never anything technical just busy work the full time PW engineers don’t want to do themselves. I should also add that Company A has a two year deal with PW that PW won’t hire me unless buying out my full contract (which never happens). The way things are going I don’t think I can stay with Company A for two years, on the hopes that PW will hire me.

    I recently got a call from another major CT company, Electric Boat (EB), a manufacturer of Nuclear Submarines. I have an interview for a mechanical engineering position scheduled in a few weeks. This would be a full time ‘real’ engineering job at a real engineering company, not outsourcing. I’m also going to assume that the pay will be more inline with what I expected. Additionally EB is about 15 minutes from where I live, PW is about an hour away, so the commute would be much better.

    Now for the predicament.

    I’m more interested in Jet Engines and the aerospace industry in general. There are aerospace companies all around the country so I could potentially go anywhere I want. Electric Boat is sort of the end of the line when it comes to submarines. That being said I don’t really want to stay in CT for too long, I’d like to save up enough money to move down to Washington D.C. or back to Los Angeles (where I went to school).

    This is all ASSUMING I GET THE EB JOB. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I’d like to have it all thought through before my interview.

    Would it be pointless to take the EB job if I plan on moving eventually anyway? Would it look bad to have two different companies in say 2 years of work out of college? Would it look bad to have worked so shortly for Company A? I don’t want future potential employers to see me as someone who jumps ship at the first chance. Company A is just a limited opportunity for me and I’m not really challenged there AT ALL. What would you guys do?

    Ideally I’d like to take the job at EB and work there for a while getting as much experience as possible. However, I feel bad for leaving my current job after such a short amount of time. I really enjoy the people I work with at PW but I’m really unhappy as an employee of Company A. I don’t feel like a real engineer, to be honest I feel like I’m selling myself short. Not to mention I have moral problems working for an outsourcing company that is based outside of the US, my current position just happens to be an American job outsourced to an American.

    I just want to mention again that I haven’t gotten the EB job yet, I’m not even confident I will, but I certainly have a fair chance! I also don’t intend to rub my predicament in the face of anyone currently struggling to find a job.
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I'm a professional mechanical engineer (16+ years in the business) so perhaps I can help shed some light.

    This isn't an unusual arrangement at all, really - and it's not really limited to engineering. Many companies outsource part of their operations, including engineering, HR, payroll, accounting, etc. I wouldn't worry too much about this.

    This isn't unusual either, especially with you being in the workforce as a professional for all of two months. It's just part of learning the ropes - and believe me, you'll be exposed to a LOT of knowledge even in this role. Absorb as much as you can and make yourself as helpful as possible, and you're certain to get noticed.

    This isn't because you're outsourced; professionals have a billed rate and a salary pay rate, and 1/3 is about the usual ratio. The additional billing rate covers fringes (your insurance, vacation time, etc.), support staff who aren't billed hourly, overhead, profit, etc. It would be the same if you were a direct hire; you might be paid around $40 an hour, but billed at $125 an hour. Nothing nefarious going on with that.

    This is part of climbing the ladder; you prove yourself, and you're rewarded with more responsibility, and in time, more pay. Document your responsibilities and achievements along the way; when your performance review comes up and it's time to ask for a pay increase, you'll have documentation showing your value to the company.

    Are you certain of this? You need to take into account your market sector, geographical location, and the general nature of the "down" economy. Also, since you're working for/with a defense contractor, you may be receiving additional benefits, job security, or pension benefits that other engineers might not be receiving.

    GIANT red flag here; this is how people get laid off. Make sure people know you're available to help, even if it's filing and making copies (being a "glorified secretary"). People get promoted by "just doing it," rather than waiting to be told what to do. And believe me, in this economy you do NOT want to be seen as not having anything to do, and especially not seen waiting around to be told what to do rather than seeking out ways to help.

    That's part of being the low man on the totem pole, to coin a phrase. Again, it really wouldn't be different if you were a full-time employee instead of an outsourced contractor.

    Don't be so sure. Agreements like this are the norm, and often times the company WILL give the outsourced contract employee a look, since they already "know the ropes," so to speak.

    Nothing wrong with interviewing, as long as nobody knows you're doing it. But I have to wonder, if you're more interested in jet engines, why interview with a submarine company?

    In general, two companies in two years out of college isn't so bad, much less so than four jobs in four years - but it would still have to be explained.

    That being said, there's something you need to know: if you explain to anyone that you left a job after two months because you didn't "feel challenged," you're going to give them a bad impression. Why? Because rookie engineers aren't going to be given tasks that are normally assigned to veteran engineers. It's all part of learning as you go, and working your way up.

    It sounds to me like you could gain some enormously valuable experience with PW - trust me, it's difficult to get in with companies like that, even if you ARE contract. That's very coveted ground, especially if jet engines is where your heart lies. My advice is to stick it out, learn as much as you can, make the best impression you can on your superiors with PW, and trust me, you'll work your way up the chain.

    Good luck!
  3. AML225 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2010
    Here's the thing... I'm not "in" with PW, I don't work for PW. Pratt & Whitney cannot promote me, they cannot give me a raise. I should also add that there is very little promotion room within Company A. Essentially, if I got promoted by Company A, I would be doing the same work at Pratt but in addition I would be overseeing people at Company A. Jet engines aren't exactly where my heart lie they are just in the right industry.
  4. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I understand that, but don't be misled into thinking they don't communicate with Company A about your progress. Just because you're not on their payroll doesn't mean you can't get a raise from doing a good job for them.

    Also, you can most certainly get "in" with PW because that's where you're physically working. At the end of your two years, should they be interested in making a permanent hire, they will certainly want to give you a look, since you will have spent two years learning their system already.

    That's pretty much how it is in the engineering world - a "promotion" doesn't really mean an outright change in your job function, it really just means you get more responsibility (and accountability), and eventually, the pay that goes along with it. In all likelihood, you won't even get a change in job title, so I hope you don't put too much stock in things like that. :)
  5. oilers15 macrumors regular


    Jul 28, 2010
    Move up here to Alberta, Canada.:D The demand for engineers is huge because of the oilsands, the average salary for mech. Engineers is around $50 an hour ranging up to $125 an hour. :)

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