Career Guidance Continued..
My previous article was tailored more towards internships, new-grad job opportunities and how can one prep for that journey. In this article i will just list down some of my own viewpoints towards the tech industry (specially the wi-fi world). Don’t quote me on it but this is what I understand from my own career and from others.
- If you are aiming to be in a tech job, lets say Wi-Fi, i believe it may prove beneficial to be working for a vendor (Cisco, Aruba etc) than any other company. The reason being - thats where innovation happens and the products are built. Rest all the companies are consumers of those products. Another reason for working with vendor companies is that there are plenty of job profiles in those companies. Let me give an example - (still referring to the Wi-Fi industry here) there are roles like -- Customer support (TAC), Advanced Services (Services), Technical sales (Systems engineer, Consulting Systems Engineer), IT (Internal wifi network of the company), Technical marketing engineer (TME), Product manager (PM) etc.. and then there is the management track for all these roles. All the above roles are for various technologies (wi-fi being one of them). Hypothetically, even if you spend an avg of 2-3 years in each role, you are talking about half your career. This is just to give you an example of whats out there from a job profile standpoint at a vendor. I understand that not everyone would like to change job profiles (for various reasons) and not everyone would like all the above mentioned roles either. Please note that its not that easy to navigate across some of these roles even within the same company.
- Changing companies a few years apart is not a bad idea and can be monetarily rewarding. For example, i have heard and seen that if you stay within the same company for ‘x’ years, typically, compensation would grow linearly, but if you were to change companies at certain intervals, your compensation may grown more rapidly at least initially till you hit a saturation point or more like industry max for that particular profile. Something like this
- Aim to get a masters degree if possible. Most people question the ROI for investing in a masters degree. Based on what i have seen an individual would start of at a better pay after a master’s degree. For example:
an undergrad fresher may get hired at $40-50k per annum versus a grad fresher may get hired at $65-75k (these are approx numbers based on what i have seen here in NC in the last 3-4 yrs). Not to mention you would start off at a higher grade level (if the company that you get hired in has a grade structure) compared to when hired after undergrad.
so typically if you spend $50-70k for a masters degree and not be employed for 2 years while attending full time school ($100k approx ~2 years of no employment @ undergrad pay level), brings the total cost for a master degree at around $170k. I would still suggest going for it because of the above factors - you start off with $20-30k more base pay which means for years to come you will have that much more money in base pay which can get compounded year over year if you were to invest it wisely 😃 and you would also start at a higher grade level which in normal cases is worth 2-4 years of work (an undergrad starting at grade ‘x’ may take up to 2-4 years on an average to move up to grade ‘x+1’ within the same company).
- Its good to be an all rounder, but very important to be a specialist. For example, if you are a CCNP R/S, security, wireless versus just a CCIE R/S (or in our example CCIE Wireless), the chances are that the latter with just one CCIE may make more money and may land up with a better job title. Again don’t quote me here, this is just what i have experienced. It may so happen that the technology you have invested in (built expertise in) may become obsolete or irrelevant in a few years and hence its not a bad practice to have a secondary technology focus that you can fall back on in dire straits. Personally, I have a master’s degree in electrical engineering, CCIE wireless, CWNE wireless but am still investing in my education (working on PMP and MBA) to safeguard my future. I can only try my bit to be more prepared for the future but the job market and bad situation is no one’s friend and can still affect you adversely.
- Customer facing experience - if possible try and put yourself through a customer facing role. Customers is where the money comes from and its very critical for somebody who wants to rise up to higher ranks in the organization to have had prior customer facing experience. Example profile can be services, sales, PM, even customer support in some cases.
Link to the previous article: