You asked for a response from an engineer. Technically I am a chemist, now retired, but most observers would have called me a software engineer for most of my career. I will give you a synopsis of my career experience.
1.) What is your specific degree
I hold a BA in Chemistry and a PhD in Biophysical Chemistry
2.) What is your place of employment
I worked for two different companies that manufactured instruments used in chemical analysis, then worked as a self employed consultant to one of those companies.
3.) Describe your engineering field
I started out doing research in the then new field of applying minicomputers, then microprocessors and PCs to problems in chemical analysis.
4.) What is your current job title
Currently I am retired. My job titles have always been somewhat ambiguous. I have been called a chemist, a software engineer, an engineering section manager, and a consultant. Generally I could have been called a Member of Technical Staff for much of my career.
5.)Please describe your particular job and duties
Initially I was asked to find new and novel uses of computers in chemical analysis by NMR, EPR, and electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA). My second job started out testing embedded software for problems prior to release. This turned into a job designing software architecture, then developing code and testing the final product, and solving customer reported problems(over 5 product cycles). As a consultant I was mostly told of a customer need and asked to propose and implement a solution to that problem, mostly working alone.
6.)What is your average work schedule
This varied widely by the needs of the company at any given time. I have always worked a flexible work schedule, which for me meant starting work mid morning and working until late in the evening. For long periods of time I was expected to work six day weeks without overtime or compensation for more than 5 day,40 hours/week, but was given some comp time off when the push was over.
7.)What was your educational background, starting with high school?
After graduating from high school I earned a BA in Chemistry from Reed College (Portland, OR) in 4 years, then a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 4 years, then did a 1 year postdoc in chemistry at the University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) before starting to work in industry.
8.)If you had the ability to do something over, whether it be in your education or career, what would it be?
All my jobs have been enormous fun. I have been mostly able to control how I did my work, and in many instances significantly influence the work objectives I have had. I sometimes wonder if I should have become a college professor, but I am very satisfied with the career I have had and would really not change much even if I could. Publishing articles and giving professional talks, while never a formal part of my job description, would have been enormously helpful to my long term career success.
9.)What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career path similar to yours?
I strongly advocate getting a sound liberal arts college education. Develop the skills to read and write English as well as you can (a standard complaint about engineers is that they typically cannot write well - That severely limits you both in the business and professional worlds.). Learn how to learn new subjects on your own, how to think analytically, and how to write clearly and concisely, and read voraciously. You will need to learn continuously your whole adult life to stay current and competent as an engineer, and your job security and marketability depend almost completely on doing this. Try to understand your world’s problems and challenges and seek solutions to them- Problems are opportunities in disguise. Read and think broadly, don’t restrict your study to your current narrow dicipline. As an engineer most of the technology that you learn in school will be obsolete in less than five years. Most of my successes have been the ability to understand and solve problems across two or more disciplines (I could understand the chemical principles of an analysis & talk to chemists in their language, yet use software engineering skills and also easily work with software and hardware engineers. I had some success understanding image processing techniques and applying them to chemical data, for example.) I would try to spot new emerging technologies and work to understand them before they become widely known. (I was successful working as a software engineer without a software engineering degree because when I started a computer science degree was extremely rare and chemists who understood computers were almost unheard of. Now you would have to have a computer science degree and a chemistry degree to even be considered for most of the jobs I have had.)
I don’t think most people would call my career a typical engineering one, so I hope others will also answer your interview request.
To summarize what I think most engineers would advise:
Learn the art of critical thinking. Learn to write clearly and concisely. Read widely and continuously. Identify the problems in your world niche and find solutions to them. Continuously develop your skills. Learn to market yourself through networking, speaking and publishing.
If you learn to do all this and enjoy it you can have an enormously rewarding career as an engineer.
I wish you great success.
Barrett L Tomlinson