Feeding your Wolf

There is an old story from an unknown Native American tribe. A wise grandfather tells his grandson that there are two wolves battling inside him. One good and one bad. The grandson asks,

"Grandfather, which wolf wins?". 

The careful reply is,

"The wolf I feed."

Which wolf are you feeding?

This note is written in the time of the Corona virus (2020). You are probably at home. You may even be newly graduated engineering PhD or BS but without a job. Right?

Wrong, you already have a full-time job: You. Your full time job should start to later than 8:00am and end no later than 6:00pm every workday. Give yourself Sunday to rest; you will need it.

Your job search is a priority. Somebody is hiring; you just don’t known them. They don’t know you. You have a unique opportunity to impress. Make a list of engineering skills that you can learn, improve, or teach. Start with these:

  • Learn how to use CATIA. Get a student license for $100. This is an essential communications skill.
  • Start a website detailing your skills and capabilities
  • Teach a short course and post on Youtube. Break into 15 minute segments and use a screen capturing program to show the process.
  • Learn how to use rendering software. This skill allows you to make compelling proposal and project graphics.
  • Volunteer to be a journal reviewer
  • Learn how to simulate electrical systems with LTspice
  • Learn how to simulate structural or fluid systems. Example ANSYS.
  • Learn how to use Simulink in Matlab
  • Join an association outside of your area of expertise. Do a deep-dive into the association’s library of materials. Take notes.
  • Get your Part 107 unmanned pilots license. Get your Technician or General class amateur radio license. Find other certifications that you can complete.
  • Update your python programming skills. Make a GUI multi-threaded frontend for a task that you use often. Post on website.
  • Practice writing.
  • Take an AI/ML course: OCW or youtube or a book.
  • Read through all of the SBIR projects offered by NASA, DoD, DOE, etc. How do your skills match? Find and document a project that you could feasibly complete. Search through old SBIR funded announcements and see which company won similar projects. Send your project capabilities to this company. Voila; instant job opening.
  • Get a post-doc position.

Make a deadline. Complete on-time. Show deliverables.

Why does this work?

Pareto’s 80/20 rule: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

  • 80% of your colleagues won’t search for ways to improve.
  • Of those remaining, 80% won’t finish & document even one task.
  • The 4% (i.e. 20% ∙ 20%) are exactly what your future boss is searching for in a new employee. You demonstrate competency and are low-risk.

I believe that you should update your resume with a “Quarantine” work history showing what you accomplished. The key point for your future boss is demonstrating a strong work ethic at-home with no supervision. This requires documentation and links to delivered product/projects.

Now, go feed your wolf.

What about Sundays?

While not engineering related, are some Sunday activities:

  • Ponder the meaning of life. What is important to you? What is not?
  • Interact with people. Call someone and just talk.
  • Listen to a live Catholic Mass in Latin (TLM).
  • Shed preconceptions and biases. Open your heart and mind.
  • Read a book about someone persevering in a difficult time.
  • Use mises.org to learn economics. Economics will be messed up for years, you need to get a different point of view to protect yourself.

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