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Interview Assessment 2

Name of person interviewed: Mr. Michael Simister

Profession: Project Engineer

Location and business name:

Intertek Testing Services

1809 10th St Suite 400

Plano, TX 75074

Date of interview: October 20, 2017

Time: 7:00 PM

My interview was Mr. Simister was, by far, the most unique one I have had with an

electrical engineer.

I arrived at Starbucks early and had the chance to order a drink, calm my nerves, and look

over my interview questions. I knew Mr. Simister from the Shoulders of Giants engineering lab,

as he had graded several of my exams as well as been present the day of the Senior Send-Off

Party. From my previous experience with him, I knew he was very friendly and somewhat

extroverted (for an engineer). When he arrived with his wife, he reflected all of these traits. I was

automatically more relaxed and I discovered that I talked more in this interview than any other.

Mr. Simister’s start to engineering was different than any other engineer that I had

interviewed before, because he did not follow the traditional path of high school to college to the

workforce. Instead, he went to college for special effects, and didn’t look towards electrical

engineering until later on in life. When he discovered that he was good at what was being taught,

he decided to pursue engineering rather than special effects. When he graduated college, he had

no idea which discipline he wanted to focus in, and just took the first job opening he liked. When
I asked if this was common, Mr. Simister responded that much of the time, engineers graduate

with no special interest in a particular discipline, and usually continue in the field of their first

job for the rest of their lives. This somewhat mirrors advice that I obtained from Research

Assessment 3, which explained that engineers should not choose a discipline early in their career,

but rather look at all of the opportunities. As someone who had been stressing about which

discipline to choose, both Mr. Simister’s response and the advice from the Research Assessment

taught me that I did not need to worry about this for another few years.

Mr. Simister, as a safety engineer, spends much of his time testing lighting equipment

and reporting the results back to the customer. As he stated, 30% of his job is “delivering bad

news.” The other parts of his day are spent doing paperwork, dealing with office politics, and

testing equipment. The least favorite part of his day was dealing with people, which I have found

is a common trend between all engineers. As someone who is naturally introverted, this

knowledge brings me some relief, because it demonstrates that engineers are not sociable, and I

will therefore not become tired from constant talking. He said the most enjoyable part of his day

was the knowledge that he was able to help protect the general public.

It was at this question when I realized that although Mr. Simister is nice and talented at

engineering, he really chose this for the fact that it was a good job. He had grown to enjoy it, but

the salary and the fact that it was a steady job was the real motivation for him continuing to be an

electrical engineer. While these are completely valid reasons for becoming an electrical engineer,

I felt somewhat disappointed that he did not share the same passion for it as I did. I do realize

that both of our situations are different, and I do realize we have different interests, but in my

mind, he was marked off of my list as a potential mentor. However, this experience has taught

me that I will be working with people who do their jobs for the sake of money in the future, and
as much as that conflicts with my own beliefs, I must learn to accept them and cooperate with

them.

After that point, I didn’t ask very many questions that brought good advice or knowledge.

However, at the end, Mr. Simister mentioned that one valuable skill necessary to keep a job was

having good common sense. This is something I have not heard before, as people usually cite

good communication, good professional skills, good technical skills, the usual advice. When I

asked him to elaborate, he stated that engineers coming out of college cannot work around

simple problems in work environments. He gave the example that when a printer is broken,

nobody fixes the printer and just uses a different printer, even though they are all engineers.

People who know how to fix the basic everyday problems are the ones that employers want in

their offices. This made me reflect on myself and think of whether I was a person with common

sense problem solving or not, and I found that sometimes, I am not. I need to learn to be able to

stop avoiding obstacles, but rather fix them.

In the end, while some parts of this interview were somewhat disappointing, I learnt a

multitude of knowledge not only from his question responses, but also from that disappointment.

I will surely use all of this new information in the future, whether it be in ISM or in the

workforce.
Interview Notes:

1. How did you become interested in electrical engineering?

a. as a kid, played with model trains that hooked up to electricity → “cool”

b. 20s: in construction, saw EE

i. had cleaner work environment, nicer clothes

2. Electrical engineering covers a very large number of specialized fields. How did you

determine which field you wanted to pursue.

a. safety engineer

b. opening, so decided to go do it

i. many look for opening and continue with initial field

c. 1st job = lighting company → safety (worked together)

3. What steps did you take to become an electrical engineer?

a. unusual

b. HS → college for special effects, worked in NYC

c. work take downturn after 9/11

d. move to Florida for Disney

i. not hiring, so just look for random jobs

e. go back to school for engineering

4. How do you manage your time during a typical work day?

a. get to work early before everybody else

b. become more efficient as get more experience → more free time

i. laid back because more capable

c. then mix of being bothered (other people ask questions) and working
d. work: 30% giving bad new, 60% paperwork, 5% actual engineering, 5% office

politics

5. What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?

a. least: difficult people, managing stress

b. most: steady job, nice people

i. greater purpose, protecting general public

ii. only engineers care about public good; everyone else focused on money

6. Is it difficult to keep up with new technology being developed?

a. somewhat

b. see lots of different products

i. rely on having good technical background

ii. if don’t understand, have to rely on information from producers

iii. only have to look at safety perspective

7. What software or programs do you find most helpful?

a. Word, Excel

b. company doesn’t adopt new software well

c. SAP

8. I have heard that engineering majors should either double major or minor in business.

What do you think about the validity of this statement?

a. lots of people working on MBa’s

b. if can utilize time, then do it

9. What are the top three skills that you feel are essential for the workforce today?

a. when getting hired: have company skills
b. to keep job:

i. have motivation

ii. good communication

iii. good common sense

1. engineers out of college cannot work around problems in work

environment

a. especially in regards to troubleshooting

2. struggle, not always a technical problem