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Mechanical Engineer at a Manufacturing Company

Q: Where are you located?

A: I'm located in Chicago, Illinois.

Q: What is your role title?

A: My role title is Lead Mechanical Engineer.

Q: In your words, describe what you actually do?

A: As a lead mechanical engineer, I oversee projects, lead a team of engineers, review designs, solve problems, and ensure we meet specifications.

Q: How long have you been doing this role for?

A: I've been a lead mechanical engineer for 2 years, and was a mechanical engineer for 5 years before that.

Q: How did you get to this point in your career?

A: I started out studying mechanical engineering in college. After graduating, I took an entry level engineering role and worked my way up to lead engineer through hard work and taking on more responsibilities.

Q: When it comes to remuneration, what are your three B’s? (Base, Bonus, Benefits?)

A: My base salary is $120,000. I'm eligible for an annual bonus up to 15% based on performance. Benefits include health insurance, 401k match, and generous PTO.

Q: I’m not going to ask you who you work for, but, what industry is your company in?

A: I work for a large manufacturing company that produces industrial equipment.

Q: When it comes to work flexibility, is your work primarily office-based, fully remote, or a mix of both? Which do you prefer? Does your company allow you to be flexible?

A: My work is primarily office based, but I like the flexibility to sometimes work from home. My company allows a couple remote days a week.

Q: What does an average week or a typical day look like for you? Can you walk me through your day? What time do you arrive and start at work, what are your main tasks/responsibilities, who do you interact with, what meetings do you attend, etc.?

A: I arrive at the office around 8am, check emails and my calendar, touch base with my team, and work on critical projects. I have meetings spaced out during the day to check project status. I collaborate with cross-functional teams and managers.

Q: What does a typical day look like when things are going well vs a more challenging/stressful day?

A: Challenging days involve equipment issues or delays, but things go smoothly when projects are on schedule.

Q: What skills or knowledge are most important for your day-to-day work?

A: Technical knowledge, communication, leadership, and project management skills are critical.

Q: What are some examples of recent accomplishments or contributions you've made in this role?

A: I lead development of a new product line that expanded our capabilities. My team delivered it ahead of schedule.

Q: Do you have a supportive manager and do you feel valued?

A: My manager trusts me and advocates for my team. I feel valued and respected.

Q: How much time do you spend collaborating with colleagues vs working independently?

A: It's a 50/50 split between independent work and collaborating with others. A balance works best.

Q: Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting this role?

A: I wish I had known how much non-technical work like meetings and planning are part of engineering leadership.

Q: What do you hate most about your role?

A: The most frustrating part of my job is equipment downtime that delays projects.

Q: What do you love most about your role?

A: I love solving problems, working with smart people, and seeing our products come to life.

Q: What’s the next role for you and when do you hope to achieve this?

A: In the next 2 years I hope to move into a Director of Engineering role.

Q: Is your next role going to be with the same company or a different one?

A: I plan to advance within my current company which offers good career development.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone who aspires to reach your position?

A: Get as much hands-on technical experience early in your career as possible before moving into leadership roles. Being in a leadership role has its own set of new challenges so get ready!

Q: It’s Day 1 for someone in your role. What one piece of advice would you give them to succeed?

A: Here is the one piece of advice I would give to someone starting out as a mechanical engineer:

Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your more experienced colleagues.

Engineering is a broad field and no one expects you to know everything starting out. Whether it's asking about a technical concept you're unsure of, a software tool you haven't used before, or how certain processes work at your company, don't stay silent if you're confused.

The engineers who succeed are the ones who seek out knowledge and clarification when they need it. Asking questions shows you want to learn and prevents mistakes down the road. Over time you'll gain the skills and confidence to be more independent, but at the start, ask for help whenever you're stuck.

Foster relationships with mentors who can guide you, and always keep learning - that's the key to success as an engineer.

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