Why did this type of work interest you?
I became an engineer because I love computers and math. I always saw computers as a way of changing the world around us. I mean, they are cool, right? Since technology is an ever-changing animal, the potential for this job to maintain my interest and to allow me to use the skills I learned as an engineer was one of the biggest draws for me. When I started working at my job DVD players was the technology to have; now it is smartphones and tablets.
How did you get started?
After being laid off from my Aerospace job, I was unemployed for many months. While it is never ever a good feeling to be rejected, I was to an extent relieved to be let go. Working in Aerospace meant working on the same project for years and years. I am just too much of a dynamic person to be tied down to one subject for so long. As luck would have it, I had a friend who worked at a film restoration company. I worked here for several years, and I truly did love it at first: I got to work on movies. I mean, how romantic is that? To live in LA and say you got to work on some of the greatest movies of all time. But after a while, I got burned out. Working in production is extremely demanding and sadly the pay is only enough to barely get you by. To gain some sanity, I went back to the Aerospace. Yet, the fast pace of Production made this job seem slower than ever. So, I looked for another job that would be able to satisfy the scientific engineer in me as well as the side that constantly hungered for knowledge and a challenge.
What skills do you have to have to get this job?
Creativity is key. And I don’t mean “creativity” as in making a craft project, but in how to approach a situation or problem; “where do I find this information?”. Sometimes it is not always intuitive about where to search for the tools and information needed to investigate an item. I do not have the luxury of taking a class on every technology available and so I must teach myself in some burgeoning areas as well as refresh my knowledge in others. You have to be willing to learn; constantly. As a result, you also have to be very organized and intuitive.
A technical background is required. Sure, anyone can test a product, but having an education in engineering and a background in Quality Control are priceless when it comes to determining how to approach the product, develop appropriate tests, and analyze the data.
Another skill need is Affability. As an engineer I am allowed to lock myself in my lab. As a Coordinator I must exchange information with people on a daily basis. You not only have to work with people within your company, but also vendors, manufacturers, and fellow engineers and attorney: any one involved in creating a product.
Do you have any tips for job seekers trying to get a job like yours?
Be well-rounded. Just because you’re an engineer, doesn’t mean you can’t explore your creative side as well. Also, when I found this job, the description sounded very dry. Yet, I applied because it was in the movie industry and seemed interesting. So, don’t be afraid to ask during the interview “In your terms, how would you describe this job?”.
What is it like to work in Los Angeles?
It’s amazing. In addition to the great weather, access to wonderful restaurants and varying landscapes, I also, due to my industry, get access to the occasional movie event or see a celebrity walk through my halls. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is knowing that I am supporting an industry that is synonymous with Los Angeles and Hollywood. I get to work for one of the greatest and beloved industries in the world: I mean, who doesn’t like the movies, right?
Thanks to Andy for being a part of my interview series, Working Los Angeles!