Life Work

Don’t Wait For Permission

I have corresponded with a international student for a few years now. I honestly can’t even remember how we met online and it doesn’t matter. He showed interest in my work and we started talking and have continued as he has graduated from US university and found a job locally. Recently he asked me:

I don’t like my current job. How can I get a job at Google?

I asked him why he wanted to move to Google. High pay? Exciting work? Big challenges? A recognizable name on a resume? All of these things can be had at other companies, many that are easier to get to than Google. Without having someone on the inside of Google that knows his work, I told him that he will be forced to go through the same process that every other interviewee does when applying to jobs posted online…and that’s a lot of competition. Not that competition is bad, just that there are so many better ways to find interesting, rewarding, high paid work.

So here’s the advice I give him and to all of you and any other recent graduates or young people looking for work:

I recommend you pick an open source project you think that Google would work on (or any other target company you’d like to work with). Maybe it’s a robot. Or a new API. Or a delivery service for soggy cereal milk (really?!?).

Next, start working on that project. If you can’t find an existing project, start your own (I started the BenchBudEE as part of Contextual Electronics because I didn’t see anything else in the marketplace). If you can’t do it alone, find some others that might be interested in the same topic. Find discussion boards or subreddits around the topic to find like minded people (hopefully with complementary skill sets)

Finally, spend all of your waking moments not at your job or school working on this project. You won’t be paid at all and likely never will be for this project. Work really really hard on it. At the end, you’ll either have one of two things

  1. A job offer from Google (or whichever company you were targeting)
  2. A great project and great experience.

If you don’t want to do the hard work when you’re not already working for Google, they likely won’t want to hire you in the first place.

Don’t wait for a company to give you permission to do interesting work. Go out there and find it and do it. The world is a playground!

By Chris Gammell

Chris Gammell is an engineer who talks more than most other engineers. He also writes, makes videos and a couple podcasts. While analog electronics happen to be his primary interests, he also dablles in FPGAs and system level design.

8 replies on “Don’t Wait For Permission”

I agree with this article.
I think doing projects outside of work and school is not only a good thing for getting hired, but the best way to learn about a subject and really get a handle on the technology you are using.
Doing self-guided projects is also a great way to improve your trouble shooting skills.
That is my two cents.

I enjoyed reading your article.

I think it also shows a passion for the subject.
When I used to interview prospective engineers, I’d always asked them what they’d built outside of work or their course. If they’d never built anything in their own time, it was a bit of a red flag for me.

I think the easiest way is to check your ‘what i want to try out / experiment with – if i find time’ list. read through all of this and if some of the points catch your interest get on and research all of the possible ideas / usages of the thing – if you are diving deep into this one field you will find some openhardware projects!
sometimes it takes some time to find the right direction to search in..

if you do not have a ‘what i want to try out / experiment with – if i find time’ list just create one:
browse through the sparkfun / adafruit / tindie store or one of the nice sites /blogs like or
iam sure if you are interested a little bit in hardware and software and if you wake up the dreaming child in you – you will finde some things that fire up the ‘want to try out’ feeling 😉

have fun

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