Engineer 3 (Female, Age 41) in Austin, TX

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Female aged 41 who works as a Engineer 3 in Austin, TX. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete our job profile survey so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job TitleEngineer 3
Salary$110,000
Other Compensation None Set
Hours/Week
Company Size(not answered)
LocationAustin, TX
Years Experience2 years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career0
Education(not answered)
Income Rating0 / 10
Interest Rating0 / 10
Work-Life Rating0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating0 / 10

Table of Contents

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
I work for a major semiconductor manufacturer. We are the only U.S. manufacturing location for our company. At our facility, we have two production facilities that make two different types of memory chips. Our company is privately (and foreign) held. There are approximately 2,000 people at our location and >100,000 people worldwide.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
I lead a team of engineers who are responsible for environmental issues associated with the operations and activities of the organization. We ensure compliance with regulations and programs. We also monitor activities to ensure minimal environmental impact.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
4 weeks of paid leave (vacation, sick, and personal); health insurance is primarily paid by company (<$100/month premium for family); partially matching 401(k), no pension plan

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?
Under compensated in general (but on average for the area of the country)

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
My job is really internal customer service. My customers are the engineering groups, facilities, contractors, management, and visitors to our site. I spend approximately 25% of my time in meetings. Outside of that, much time is spent working in a team environment. That is one of the best parts of my job!

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?
Yes

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?
Yes

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
It is essential to work collaboratively since no single person has all of the answers.

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 6
Benefits: 8
Hours: 5
Co-Workers: 4
Supervisors: 3
Job Title: 7
Level of Responsibility: 2
The Actual Work: 1

A day in the life of…

Please describe a typical workday for you in your current job:

5am to 6am
6am to 7am
7am to 8amDid some research at home on energy conservation projects and certification. Emailed them to myself and a colleague to discuss later in the day. (It’s awkward to be “surfing” the web at work so I like to do random searching at home.)
8am to 9amArrive at work. Meet with the same colleague that I had emailed earlier to talk about potential goals for 2009. Arrive at desk and check email and voicemail from the night before. I’ve been working with some Korean and Japanese chemical suppliers on compliance with EPA’s importing laws. Because of the time change, I email in the afternoon and get their responses the next day. I’m having a lot of trouble with the language barrier with one company but think I have enough information to move forward with registration of the new chemicals.
9am to 10amUpdate the chemical tracking plan. I am down to less than 10 chemicals that need verification. I communicate with my boss, the EHS (environment, health, and safety) manager. He sympathizes with the frustration of the situation but appreciates the update. He has been asked by the director of facilities (his boss) for a status report. I’ve armed him with enough information to be ready.
10am to 11amGather the engineers on my team in between our cubes. (We jokingly refer to it as “Conference Room X” when we just roll our chairs to the common aisle to talk.) I’m proposing that we model our 2009 environmental goals after a national program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). I get everyone’s agreement on the general approach. I work with one of the engineers on his plan to visit the state regulatory agency to find some old records that aren’t available in our archives. We also talk about emissions tracking and I provide some input on how to update our records when we introduce new chemicals into the plant. I call an engineer that previously worked with us and was responsible for the EPA importing rules (Toxic Substances Control Act, TSCA). She is willing to share with me her recollection of conversations with the suppliers. She works for a consulting firm now and I have to be careful to ask her about previous activities and not for consulting help. Because of the downturn in the semiconductor market, we have no consulting budget for the remainder of the year. Talking with her, the consulting firm where she works is also suffering from a downturn since most of their clients have seen budgets cuts.
11am to 12pmMy boss is working on a proposal to create an executive EHS team (president, vice-presidents, etc.) He has made an initial presentation but the director would like more detail about EHS activities and successes. This isn’t what the presentation should be about, but it is a good chance to share some of the things that we’ve been working on. We talk about the ways we can present information to get maximum impact. Then, I talk with another of the engineers on my team about pulling data on waste disposal over the last couple of years to show that our quantities of waste have increased by the total weight per unit production has decreased. I help him make a graph. Another engineer on the team lends her talents in making the graph very attractive. So much of what we do has to do with bridging the communication barriers. Everything has to be graphic and clear.
12pm to 1pmLunch (off-site)
1pm to 2pmMeet again with colleague (who is the team leader for the health and safety team) to discuss 2009 goals. This is really social as well as work related. We talk about business opportunities associated with conservation. We talk about LEED. I’m a certified LEED Accredited Professional. He is contemplating taking the exam. Afterwards, I print the guidelines for LEED and begin to see if it is possible for us to achieve certification for our site in 2009.
2pm to 3pmWe have a standing Friday meeting to discuss the weekly report. Each department is required to put together a weekly PowerPoint that represents progress towards goals, activities, issues, etc. Because EHS affects so many groups, we have a wide audience for our weekly report. To make sure it’s accurate, our manager meets with the four team leads in our department to go over the report. Afterwards, I meet with my manager and the health/safety lead to talk about the executive committee presentation. My boss is happy with the information that we have added and it may be ready for presentation.
3pm to 4pmI meet individually with the engineers in my group to distribute responsibilities for the different elements of the LEED program that we might implement next year. I explain the way the program works and we talk about how it might integrate with other programs. Each engineer is responsible for one area to identify what we can do easily, what we can do with money, and what isn’t really feasible. (For example, we could get credit if we replaced all of our parking lots with pervious coverings. We know that will never happen!)
4pm to 5pmI initiate correspondence with the Korean and Japanese chemical suppliers on information that I will need next week. I know they will get these email on Monday morning (Sunday night, my time) and hopefully I will have responses on Monday morning. I receive a call from one of the labs letting me know they have some waste oil for disposal. I help one of the safety engineers review the incidents for the week and update the severity index that will go into the weekly report. I review some email (including a new one that says there will be daily cube inspections and I think my cube might be one of them noted as “bad” for having too much proprietary information out! I have a great deal of information related to chemical suppliers out since I’m actively working on TSCA.)
5pm to 6pmI talk with my manager before I go to make sure the weekly is ready to be sent (it is). I also talk with some of the engineers in Facilities Services about canceling a project to install activated carbon canisters on some organic waste tanks. We have agreed that we can avoid the project (and the costs) by using existing equipment. Now we just need to document this decision. I also have some concerns that we don’t have a back-up system in the event that we bypass our main control device. We decide to table that discussion until Monday. I talk briefly with one of the engineers that is “on loan” from Korea. We had some visitors from our headquarters earlier this week. I was curious of the visit was considered to be successful. He was happy with how it turned out. Our director came by and indicates that it was good. I walk out with the colleague that I talked with at the beginning of the day about conservation projects. He’s going to help us evaluate our indoor air quality programs. (He’s an Industrial Hygienist.)
6pm to 7pmOn my way home!
7pm to 8pmHome (not working)
8pm to 9pmHome (not working)
9pm to 10pmHome (not working)
10pm to 11pmHome (not working)
11pm to 12amHome (not working)

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
Referral. I was doing some consulting work for them and they offered me a full time job.

What was the application process?
I was offered a job based on the work I was already doing there. Once they made an offer, I had to submit a resume, application, etc. as a formality.

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
I had to interview as a consultant. They were looking for an experienced environmental/safety engineer. I interviewed against a couple of other consultants. When I converted to a full-time status, I did not have to go through another interview.

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
Tell us a little about your background. What experience have you had with [specific type of project]? Have you ever worked for an Asian company before? Are you familiar with the cultural differences? (There seemed to be equal focus on how well I could assimilate into the work environment and how well I could do the actual job.)

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
Not at all! Because I was brought in as a consultant, I was just dropped into the work environment and expected to figure everything out for myself. This is very different than what happens with most new engineers (especially those straight out of school). By the time I went through “New Employee Orientation”, I had already been working there for 9 months and knew my way around so it wasn’t very helpful.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
I had to be experienced in ISO/OHSAS standards. (These are international standards that companies will subscribe to.) That required week long training classes and actual audit practice. I’ve had many different training experiences in my career and they all prepared me for this job. I didn’t have to take training specifically for this job.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
My education gave me the background to learn everything I needed to do this job. My knowledge is all based on my original engineering degree.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?
Definitely. When I was in college (late 80’s), it wasn’t as common to have internship and I only had one really good one. It was good to see how engineers really worked, get used to taking direction, get used to working with a team. It makes the first real job a little less scary!

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
Get a degree in engineering; either chemical or civil. Chemical is good if your focus is air pollution. Civil is good if your focus is water pollution. Either degree will work since the important thing you will get from school is the ability to think like an engineer (sound engineering judgment). While in school, try to take at least one class in engineering or environmental law. Understanding regulations and law is a major part of the job. Take internships with at least one private sector entity (e.g., industry) and one public sector entity (e.g., regulatory agency). Avoid going to a consulting firm as your first job out of school. It’s better to get real experience first; then you can always use that knowledge to consult later (and get much higher billing rates!) Try to find a company that has a program to hire and nurture new college graduates.

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
It is essential to have strong reading comprehension skills. A great deal of time is spent ensuring that activities are compliant with regulations. You must read the regulations, understand it, apply it, then recall it later. A strong mechanical aptitude is also important. You will be working with engineers in many different fields and must be able to understand their needs, concerns and plans. Interpersonal skills make the job much easier since your job is to help everyone else do their jobs better.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
In my experience, having an actual engineering degree makes a big difference. Environmental science degrees have value but they tend to lack the rigor.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Get out of your cube/office as often as possible. The only way to learn your job is to understand what everyone else is doing. Make it a point to understand the processes that you’ll be supporting. Learn the facilities and physical plant (boilers, cooling systems, etc.) Get to know as many people as possible. If people know you and understand your job, they will come to you with their issues (rather than having to find out the “hard way” when things are done improperly).

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
It’s definitely a good step in my career. After this, I will be working for my own consulting firm so I’m gathering experiences right now. The more I learn now, the more valuable I will be to future clients.

What are your current career goals?
I have already formed a small consulting firm and do some work on the side (cleared with my company to make sure there is no conflict of interest). Over the next 1-2 years, I will begin to transition more of my energy to the firm and away from the company. Within 3 years, I expect to be running the new company full-time.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?
There really are no bad experiences if you learn from them. I have friends who took time off to teach (including me; I have a teaching degree and two years teaching high school science), having children, travel, join the Peace Corps. They were all able to get back into corporate work when they wanted it. In fact, I think they’re better in their jobs for having those cool experiences.

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

TitleLengthSalaryDescription
Prior Job 1Project Manager4 years100000Working with a consulting firm, I managed various projects related to environmental engineering. I had a team of project engineers that reported to me. I was also expected to do project engineering work.
Prior Job 2Environmental Engineer2 years80000Supported refinery and chemical plant operations in the area of air pollution control. Worked with process and design engineers to design air pollution projects, manage operations, oversee related activities. I worked as part of a team of 12 environmental engineers.

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:3.9

GPASchoolDegree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
3.6University of MemphisBS Civil Engineering
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)

Ask a Question of this Mentor

This mentor has opted to receive questions from people interested in this career or job position. Please be respectful of their time and willingness to help. Include some basic relevant background so they can intelligently answer your question.