Ask the headhunter

Anton van Rossum
Leestijd: 3 minuten

S.P. asks:

Working in hardware development has always been my dream. I studied electronics engineering, obtained a master’s degree in RF and got to start my career at Intel, first in analog design and later in design automation. However, after that, the path of my dreams became quite a bumpy road.

Despite my passion for analog circuits, I moved to software within Intel. My plan was to enhance my software skills and then transition back to hardware engineering. However, this temporary sidestep ended up lasting a couple of years. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from the software roles I’ve had, as coding is undeniably one of the most crucial skills in modern engineering. In fact, I’ve come to find considerable pleasure in automating repetitive and mundane tasks (ChatGPT won’t do everything!).

With my software know-how, I became the first hire in a startup developing enterprise software. Here, I’ve gained unparalleled experience in starting a company from scratch, but I now feel that I’ve reached a pivotal point in my career. Although I see several challenges in my current position, I lack excitement for the product. I think it’s too abstract and business-oriented. I also really miss hardware development and I wish I could work more with ICs and/or RF.

In my hardware days, I used to develop tools specifically for analog ICs. This has given me a deep understanding of the analog design flow, including corner simulations, the PVT process, netlists, parasitic extractions and layout design. I also have extensive knowledge of fundamental instrumentation techniques using VNAs, spectrum analyzers, IP3 measurements, S-parameters, impedances and Smith charts.

I understand that my unconventional career path and limited professional experience in hardware design may not align perfectly with many positions in hardware engineering. However, I believe that my diverse skill set still makes me a viable candidate for certain hardware-related roles. I could provide automation solutions for analog design, lab instrumentation or signal integrity tools, for example. And while I may not have enough experience to design circuits without guidance, I’m not afraid to dive into simulations or layout design when necessary.

I’m looking for a long-term opportunity where I can utilize my skills and pursue my ambitions. Preferably a partially remote job in which I could start with some on-site training for two to three months and then work from home with regular visits on-site (eg for one week a month). There are flights from Gdansk to Eindhoven every day. What do you think?

The headhunter answers:

Returning to the semiconductor ballpark could certainly be possible, assuming you have a sound background in analog and RF technology. If you pass the technical interviews, you could be a good candidate for positions providing automation solutions for analog design, lab instrumentation or signal integrity tools. Your willingness to learn to work on simulations and layout design increases your chances of getting a job, for instance in a startup, where multitasking and flexibility are required.

Working remotely, however, is too big of an ask, I’m afraid. In hardware roles (and many other positions as well), you can only work effectively from home when you’re a senior. And even then, many of my clients prefer their seniors to be in the office a lot, to solve technical problems with the team, and of course to guide juniors and less experienced engineers. I definitely see opportunities for you in the semiconductor industry, but most of them require living within commuting distance.

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