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In this blog, we have the experience of a 2019 IIT Bombay graduate, Yogesh Mahajan, who is currently working as a Radar Firmware Engineer at Texas Instruments. He shares his experience of being an electrical engineer and what drove him to pursue this path.

What was your main motivation for sticking to a core job?
Mostly, interested in the core field. I enjoyed most of the courses in the third and fourth years, even when I did not perform well in some. And luckily, I landed an interesting job through placements. I have been learning a lot of new things for the past two years.

What prompted you to go for a job after graduation as opposed to higher education, an MBA, a startup, etc.?
I ditched my plans for PhD for two reasons. Firstly, you need a good CPI, which I did not have and secondly, I was more inclined towards industrial experience. So after having long discussions with friends and family, I decided to try a job first and then think about the PhD later, if required.
As for an MBA, I never had enough motivation or patience to do it. It’s just not my cup of tea!
And for a startup, you need a good idea first. So I thought maybe I will get one while working in TI.

Were there any turning points during your insti life where you identified your interest in a particular area? E.g. any particular course, research project or competition you participated in?
I can recall three key pivots during my academic journey in insti. I loved the microprocessor architecture related courses. Hated the ML courses. Even though I like the end result of training and developing models, the journey is too painful for me. Lastly, I enjoyed working on my DDP. It also helped me secure my current job.

What hard/soft skills are essential in your job? How did you build up your skill-set in the field? E.g. internships or courses inside and/or outside the institute.
In my current job role, my key responsibility is to develop SoC firmware in C. So having a good understanding of compilers, processor architecture and DSA is essential. Signal processing, analog and digital design also come in handy. The semiconductor industry is the most automated industry. So automation is everywhere, even in design. Knowing at least one scripting language is also very important.
I think teamwork and problem-solving ability are the most important soft skills in this field. As you gain experience, leadership and social skills also become very important.
The only way to get the skills required in this field is by doing it. The most important part is to put everything you have learned in insti together and understand the overall design. Like most new-joiners, I spent a lot of time debugging and experimenting. It’s like doing the DDP all over again, but this time you have to make it work 😅

Did you consider applying externally instead of going through placements? If no, why not?
I did not consider applying externally. Most of the companies I was interested in, participated in the placement process

Could you mention the things you like and dislike about your current job?
The job involves long term projects with sparse deadlines. So, my schedule is fairly flexible. The downside is, I don’t get to travel for work.

What are your long term plans? Since most cutting-edge research and implementation is done abroad, do you plan to move out of India?
I think the second half of the question is not valid. At least from my experience.

What impact will/did the COVID-19 pandemic have on your job profile, your current employer and the sector as a whole? (depending on fresh graduate/experienced)
Most of the design/ development work in the industry happens remotely. So the whole work-from-home situation had little long term impact on my job in terms of deliverables. Most of the teams faced short-term productivity issues because of the sudden change in work pattern but the development activities are back on track now. We just had to let go of free office coffee and snacks.
As a whole, the industry is facing serious supply-chain issues because of shut-downs and transportation bans. It did cause short-term revenue slips. But being a deep-pocketed industry, most of the players will sail through. I did not hear of any lay-offs in the development field because of COVID. In fact, many teams hired more freshers than last year. Not so sure about the production or sales and marketing sides.
Even if the industry is not in trouble, things are a bit difficult for the freshers (less than a year). One has to catch up on a lot of things at the beginning. The entire remote work situation has definitely made it harder.

What advice would you give to a confused student who is unsure about his strengths and interests? How should one go about exploring various domains in his/her department?
Try to get in touch with seniors. Ask them about what they are doing and try to sort things out. If you are still confused, choose an option that you think would be most intriguing, while managing your expectations. No decision is final or wrong. You will always have an option to switch, and you will know better the next time.

A word of advice to the people sitting for placements this year?Please focus more on your resume. Don’t prepare a resume to rule them all. Make a field targeted resume. Pay extra attention to keywords mentioned in the skills sections. That is how the HR filter through the pile. Don’t oversell though.
If you are applying for a tech role, be prepared about the projects you have mentioned on your resume. Once the screening questions are done, the interviewer will shift to the project related questions. These are the questions that will get you the job. Don’t waste your time applying/preparing for profiles you are not interested in.
There is a chance that the job you will be assigned after placement is not exactly the way it is described on the portal. Many firms provide generic descriptions of multiple profiles in a particular field. So try to get more information during the interview.