Tag: <span>Electronic Engineering</span>

I remember sitting in a lecture hall, third row from the front. It was an old room, well loved, and the sun was streaming through the vertical blinds captured in the dust stirred by 30 nervous, anxious and very unsure students.

It was the first day of college and I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, I never really figured it out but that’s a story for another day.

Instead I sat there next to two guys who I’d happened to wander into the room with. We were chatting awkwardly and I think we were all grateful when the lecturer entered the room.

Fresh from school, we all hushed up and did our best impressions of being good, eager students. He welcomed us and started to talk about the Glasgow Herald, the local broadsheet, beloved of my Gran.

I remember wondering why he was telling us about how to read a newspaper, trying to figure out just how it would help me get through the next few years of Electronic Engineering lectures and workshops. And then he said some words that have stuck with me to this day, and which I don’t heed half as often as I should’ve.

“Whatever you do, read the paper. All of it. Front to back, or back to front. It doesn’t matter where you start, just read everything you can about what is going on in the world.”

I didn’t, for many years, take that advice because it’s hard to do. I don’t mean it’s hard to read a newspaper, but that it’s hard to keep yourself open to the rest of the world, to the experiences of others, the lives of people you don’t know and wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards.

Over the years most of us will develop our own worlds, we become tiny centres of gravity and attract the people we want to attract into our lives, regardless of how fleeting the contact. In doing so, we make choices to push away others that don’t share our view of life, and I like to think this is what my lecturer was trying to guard against.

I’m as guilty of it as the next person. My view of the world differs from yours but, naturally, I’ll place far more weight on my views.

I’ve written in the past about trying to steer away from ‘drama’, on trying to reduce the noise, to simplify and step away from negativity. I’ve been pretty successful and I’m only now realising that in doing so I’ve also managed to embrace some of my lecturer’s advice. I’m still not the most open minded, laid-back guy but I do try to understand.

My ex-boss noted something about me which sums it up well. I used to put this down to being a Libran (I know, but it did help me understand this part of me when I was younger), and as I grow older it holds true, but I just don’t do well with absolutes.

This very weekend a lovely woman I know talked in such terms. She talked of something ‘guaranteeing’ to work for others because it worked for her. I visibly baulked at the very statement because I know it’s not true.

But I didn’t say anything to her. There is no point to objecting for the sake of it, no point in making noise when it’s clear that the other person doesn’t share your worldview.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to discuss and sometimes challenge, and be challenged, on my views if it’s clear the other person is also looking to discover and explore something, rather than simply dismiss it.

I know my views are not shared by many. But they are mine. I will voice them. I will stand by them, just as I expect you to stand by yours.

We are not the person we choose to let others see, and we all have a choice in what we do and don’t expose to the world. If you don’t like it, that’s ok. Feel free to ask questions, to discuss, to engage.

But always remember that what you say will colour others opinion of you, as much as what I say colours your opinion of me.

Personal Musings

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Next week the first of two new recruits joins our team. Both are graduates and whilst neither graduated from a Technical Writing based course they both have a good mix of skills, coming to the position through different routes. It’ll be a challenge for them, and a challenge for us, to integrate them to the team smoothly and successfully. I’m sure they will both do well, but to give them the best chance I’m preparing a few weeks of training for them, in various aspects of the job.

I’m trying to anticipate what they need to know, and when they need to know it, and whilst I’m very wary of letting my own experience get in the way it does mirror what they will be going through as my route into this profession was via an Electronic Engineering course, and I too had no experience in Technical Writing.

Training on our authoring tool (Author-it) is straightforward enough, and we will be mentoring each of the recruits as well so day to day questions we can handle.

We will likely use the IBM book “Developing Quality Technical Information” to provide a grounding in the basics of Technical Writing, along with an eLearning book titled Basics of Technical Writing that we purchased from CherryLeaf a few years ago.

They will have to learn how we do things, our specific processes, and learn how the overall Development team works so they understand where they fit, and they will receive a series of training exercises to complete before they take our product training course. On top of all that they will have a week long company Induction.

I’m a great believer in people learning by doing, so I’m planning a set of small tasks which will be checked and reviewed, and which will ultimately find their way into our documentation set.

Beyond that, I’ll be looking for them to ask questions, try things, make mistakes and learn from them, and then ask more questions. This industry is too varied to try and learn everything at once, and ultimately it’s down to them to decide what areas they want to push into… user experience? content design? API information? Who knows.

I do know it’s a challenge, for everyone involved, and that’s one of the things we, as a company, do best. There is a saying we have about being two feet outside your comfort zone, that’s where you learn best, that’s where you grow and start to understand your capabilities, so we will see how our recruits get on!

For me it’s doubly exciting as this is only the second time I’ve taken on graduates. I learned a lot the last time, both about how to train them and about my own foibles and attitudes to my profession so I’m brushing up my own knowledge to make sure I, and the rest of the team, give them the best change they have. In saying that, the first time I did this I was in my first ‘senior’ position, that was 10 years ago so hopefully by now I’ve gained a little bit more experience!

After all, you learn something new every day.

Have you brought a graduate into your team? Or are you involved in training or mentoring new recruits? If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.


I wanted to mark today, specifically to mention here so I don’t forget it. My memory is lousy and no matter what the future may hold, I want to mark down today as a day I was inspired.

My sister-in-law graduated today and now holds a degree in Dietetics. I’m not quite sure what letters she can now use after her name, I’m guessing BSc, but I do know she got the equivalent of a 2.1 (but they don’t state that as she isn’t doing her Honours).

She’s not the type to make a big fuss over things, and chatting with her after the graduation ceremony she was quite calm and accepting of the fact. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s done all the studying, the essays, the juggling of placements around her work hours, so I guess she’s at the point where it’s a bit of a given that she now has a degree.

Her kids are all very proud of her, three of them were there today but unfortunately her oldest son couldn’t because he’s just (this morning at 2am) become a Dad for the first time, and I’m certain her Dad is thrilled and the only shame is that her Mum couldn’t see this day.

So, well done Claire. I don’t think there are all that many mothers who aren’t long past THAT ‘big’ birthday, have brought up four wonderful children, have kept down a job and who have just received a degree (which included a year of pre-degree coursework at college).

I have to admit I had a little pang of jealousy as, having not found my passion until later in life, I didn’t finish my degree (Electronic Engineering for what it’s worth… not much, trust me!). It might spark me into pursuing that MBA I’ve been eyeing up for the past couple of years.

Regardless, I’m chuffed to bits for her, she’s worked her ass off these past few years and I’m sure the true sense of her achievement will start to sink in soon.

And I’m really not trying to bask in her glory by suggesting that proof-reading her essays was what really made the difference, honest I’m not…