On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market - Page 4

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary

Translate This Thread From English to

Threaded View
Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Quoted text here. Click to load it

You haven't seen the LEGO robot modules powered by ARM processors?      
Posted through http://www.EmbeddedRelated.com

Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Quoted text here. Click to load it

If it was a non-trivial piece of s/w in a popular language, then yes.


http://www.transcendence.me.uk/ - Transcendence UK
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Sure.  Many of the best engineers I know started out as hobbyists, and
that's something I always looked for in helping interview people at IBM
Research.  Showing that it isn't just a job to you is a key
differentiator.  Dave Jones has a couple of vblogs on interviewing, and
he's on the right track with them, I think.

Folks that just sit on their hands, or look like that's what they're
doing, start to appear less valuable with time.


Phil Hobbs

Dr Philip C D Hobbs
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market

Quoted text here. Click to load it

We were interviewing programmers a year or so ago, and the choice came
down to a guy and a woman, both apparently good. The guy is a vehicle
nut and had designed and built a number of tach-style
embedded-processor things for cars, trucks, and bicycles, and had
pictures. We were impressed by a programmer who actually built and
programmed electronic gadgets, so we hired him.

In general, we'd give the edge to someone who does home electronic
projects, for almost any job position. It shows practicality and
enthusiasm for electronics.


Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market

Quoted text here. Click to load it

I think not. I've attached pictures of all my electronic pet control
collar tests to my CVs and have gotten nowhere.

Should I have included the shots of all the failures? I believe in
complete honesty, yet feel perhaps that the brain splatter and ruptured
eyeballs caused by the high energy discharges may actually be hurting my

In explaining the use of the little critters,  I DO mention the
overcrowded conditions in the animal shelters and how I'm actually
bettering Society as a whole by freeing up space.

None of this has dampened my enthusiasm in the least and I will be
starting work with the larger breeds next week and in an effort to
diminish the 'squeamish' factor the Personnel Managers apparently have,
will be using black and white photography from now on.

Would you advise using the darker hair subjects? White tends to be a bit


Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Try General Dynamics. ;0


Phil Hobbs

Dr Philip C D Hobbs
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Hi Tim,

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Citing "just to get back into the swing of things" I would say "no".
If you *know* how to do "X", then doing it just prior to *RE*-entering
the work force means little to me:  "Was your skillset *that* weak
that it couldn't survive the hiatus?  Or, have you been *idle* for
that long that *I* should be concerned as to whether your WORK
ETHIC may also have been compromised in this time period??"

If, OTOH, you were *ENTERING* the workplace, I would *carefully*
look at your choice of project and *approach*.  I'd much prefer to
see an applicant who has the ambition and drive to *attempt*
something "on his/her own" instead of *buying* a solution.
And, I would base much of my interview on dissecting the
approach taken, decisions made a priori vs. during the effort,
lessons learned, etc.  Did the applicant *learn* anything
from the effort (besides "how to make a whatchamacallit")?
Is he/she likely to learn anything *here* -- or will he/she
just rerun the same algorithm for a paycheck...

At the same time, this would work *against* an applicant (!).
Too often, people fall into the hammer-nail paradigm and
throw the same solution at *every* project with which they
are (subsequently) faced.  I see this a *lot* with the PIC crowd.
EVERYTHING gets done with a PIC (sorry, but you are either
distorting the needs of all of those "everythings" to *fit*
your implementation *or* you aren't thinking of what you
*could* do with those everythings WITHOUT the "PIC constraint").

The hobbyist mentality qualifies you for a technician's job.
It *may* qualify you for an engineering job *if* you can see past
the hobbyist's mentality (cheap, do it with the tools on hand,
minimize learning curve/expense, etc.).  I want an engineer
to be able to evaluate the needs of each assignment and
tailor his/her solution to *those* constraints -- not just a rehash
of the last project he/she did (which was a rehash of the project
before that, which was a rehash... etc.)

E.g., I am currently working on deploying three very similar systems
with three very different implementations based on the individual
requirements of their application domains.  On one, I use ~30
1GHz/1GB SBC's (P3's); another uses ~50 100MHz/512K SoC's; the
third uses a mix of SBC's and COTS kit.  The communication media
vary from 10/100/1000Mb wired to wireless to ZigBee (i.e., very
different data rates, geography and "reliability"/connectivity).
One is modeled more like a NoW, another like a mesh; some loosely
coupled, others tightly (including SMP).

Obviously, the software that rides atop these has to vary as well.
The OS's are different in each application domain.  Ditto with the
network stacks, etc.  Some are largely C/C++, others are shoehorned
into ASM implementations.

An applicant that tried to use the same approach (hammer) on each
(nail) would be (subconciously) telling me that he/she is focused
on his/her *current* skillset and not the needs of the application(s).
And, will fit the application to the skillset instead of the other
way around.  I.e., fearful of their abilities instead of confident
in them.  (So, why, as an employer, should *I* be confident in them??)

Quoted text here. Click to load it

I want to see *focus* in a job prospect.  Are they able to
identify the important issues (e.g., "feeding their family",
in your example) *and* do their actions "make sense" in
meeting those issues (keeping in mind that my idea of "sense"
can differ from theirs).

E.g., "I played Nintendo" while *waiting* for a job is not a
"good answer"  :-/

Quoted text here. Click to load it

The problem with "hobbyist" projects is that they are almost
always unstructured.  This isn't how things (should!) work
in the businessplace.

E.g., you can't just sit down with a vague idea of what you
want to end up with and slug away at it until you get "tired
of it" (which, essentially, is how these projects "end").
As an employee, I want you to be able to sort out what you
are going to do A PRIORI to *reach* a particular goal WITHIN
a particular set of constraints -- instead of just starting
out and "hoping for the best".  (i.e., how many hobbyist
projects *really* meet their INITIAL stated goals?  Where
were those goals FORMALIZED???  How many projects just fizzle
out when you get "too busy"?)

Given how easy it is, nowadays, to slap something together, I would
dismiss most "projects".  Unless you are *entering* the workforce
(fresh out of school), it doesn't say much about your abilities.
It *may* reveal how "frugal" you are, though:  how much time
are you willing to throw at a "pet project" instead of just
*buying* a COTS solution!  (and, will you resort to a skimpy
design approach to save the dollars that "doing it right" would

E.g., the folks who throw a PC at *every* problem that comes along
don't earn many gravy points with me.  Yeah, I know you can make
a TiVo out of a PC -- you can also use it to defrost frozen meats!
I'm not impressed with *either* usage.  :-/

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Cool!  There are people who advocate just such actions as
"healthy" for the mind/soul and "regenerative" for vocational
purposes (on the premis that only by "looking away" do the eyes
see clearest).

Teaching is said to be the best way of *understanding* something.
It is a remarkably effective way of sorting out ideas in your
own head (assuming your goal is to *be* a good teacher).  E.g.,
I spend a fair bit of time formally documenting things "for
others" in an effort to sort them out in *my* mind before
starting out on an undertaking.

Of course, if your friend's interest in math is not directly
related to his/her career goals, this may not apply (as much).

Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Hi Tim, and everyone else!
Its me, I'm one of the guys who has sent this "I want to do a home
project because I need to get an embedded job" message. I havent
watched any other messages on this list so I dont know if there was
anyone else. Reading the messages in this thread, I understand
people's different views that:
* If anyone does a home project just to get a job, their intentions
are easily exposed and a blinky home project means nothing.
* Yes a home project is valuable and practical
I think it just depends on the situation; how sincere a person is and
how passionate, interested and willing to learn they are about
technology and what their background is, and what the project is. In
my case I love problem solving (but then who doesnt; I know) and
technology, programming and creating unique solutions that do it like
it hasnt been done before.
I did an MS in EE in 2002, did a few job interviews and didnt get
anything so I got back into school and started an MBA. I got that in
2005 and have been a web-designer job since then which pays the bills.
Although I do a good job and am happy about how the job serves people
but I struggle in the job intellectually and it really doesnt use my
talents (it requires aesthetic creativity which I struggle with). For
these 5 years I've been inactive I havent done anything to get a real
EE job. Yes this doesnt leave a good impression of me. I also know
there is a way out. In around 2006 I came to this same list and asked
what I should do to get an embedded job. Many responses were "do a
home project". Yes for 4 years I still havent done anything. I did buy
some Embedded boards/kits as suggested but they've been collecting
dust. Once again I know I'm to blame. I've had chronis sinusitus for
atleast 4 years and the lack of sleep has destroyed my quality of life
and my energy level. I'm now going to the number one ENT in the
country and will have it all fixed by the end of this year. And then I
know I have to work on doing *what it takes* to get a real EE job. I
wish I had the same brain power before my sinus problems and I know I
will have it again.

So to sum it up, I'm very sincere to the electrical engineering field.
Yes my inactiveness of 5 years says the opposite perhaps but I havent
been able to work on it. I know there is a way out. To my left are
sitting 3 embedding kits, still in their boxes. It excites me every
time I look at them (yes I know, how wonderful [sarcasm]). I have a
soldering iron at home. I'm handy with things. I have tonnes of
screwdrivers and tools. I love working with tools, opening things and

I know I could make something that combines embedded stuff into web
technologies. If I was able to do it, it could help reduce the
negativity of my non-EE web-design job that I'm doing right now and I
can turn that into something positive. Here's a diagram of what I
thought I could do:
This is some kind of "enviromental" embedded home project that can
talk to the internet. Not everything here serves a practical purpose,
its for learning. Regarding the wireless part, someone [Michael Karas]
correctly suggested I should use pre-existing Bluetooth instead of
making something 433Mhz at home.

I've been creative and have done some pretty unique things in my
personal life which I'm glad I did, because most people dont make the
choices that I made (except for staying in my non-EE job for 5 years
which was bad). I know I can be creative and unique in technology and
in my career as well. A lot of you look like you're experts, you've
achieved success and all so I'm fortunate to even have this platform.
I dont know what else I can do, given that I have an MSEE from 2002,
did an MBA and since then have been a web-designer. I have to get out
of this situation one way or the other and I know there's a way and
I'll do anything to get there. I know all is not lost and I know I can
do great stuff when I get into the right company in the right job. I
know there's still time.

Money is not an object for me. I can pay my bills and save every
month. I want to do something that I love doing, something that
utilizes my real talents and interests. I have a passion for 'free'
things (renewable energy). I know I can connect that to embedded and
web technologies. I've thought a lot about what kind of job I would
like doing best.

If anyone has any advice on what I should do, I'll be really grateful.
This time I'll do it. I have a new car, a new place, will have a new
'nose' (they'll fix it) and I want to have a new job now too and I'm


Quoted text here. Click to load it

Re: On Home Projects as a Reentry into the Job Market
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Do what you love to do.  Even if it doesn't get you the job,
you'll have fun doing it, and learn things.

Expecting that a single "whiz-bang" project will get you hired
is a mistake. It will carry a lot more weight if it is one of
many projects in various areas and of varying complexity.


Site Timeline