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As a Hispanic professional, have you ever considered a career in engineering? In this interview with a Hispanic Electronic Engineer, you will hear what it is really like for this gentleman working in this field.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only a few adjectives?

A: My experience for 5 years as Electronic Engineer in a private Bioengineering company started first as an electronic technician for medical devices. This job was perfect for a person like me who is very professional, extremely organized and has a great I-CAN-DO attitude.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: Being a white Hispanic male has never been an issue at all in any of the European countries where I have been living. But living in the United States, the system has another ethnic classification system which I really did not understand. People originally from European Latin countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal, are considered Hispanic, European and Caucasians. When one has to fill in forms for the authorities in the United States, there are two options: Latin/Hispanic (not valid for Caucasians) and European (not valid for Hispanic origin). This classification was really an issue when I had to have my identification documents done in the United States; when I was applying for my ID card and social security number, I was not sure about the ethnic groups because I could not find anything that clearly represents Caucasian Hispanic European.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: This job gave me the opportunity to work as a technician which is something that I really enjoy. I am an Electronic Engineer, and the technical aspect of this job fascinated me because it gave me the chance to work with medical equipment. My duties as a medical devices technician included maintenance and repair services, technical support, medical equipment calibration and technical office administration.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A; I liked this job very much. It gave me so many good times that, if I had to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to say that this job deserves 10.

This job really moves my heart because it is what I always wanted to do when I was studying Electronics. It also made me become the professional that I am now and I really think that I will be back in this industry soon.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I think that I was able to work in this position because I have a good education. My college degree as an Electronic Engineer has helped me to build up a great reputation, but work experience is also very important and I have always worked since I was 16 years old.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I first started in this line of work when a good friend of mine started up a pharmaceutical company that also had a department for medical devices. I was first in the sales department, but I was also helping out the technical support team.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: If I could go back and do it differently, I think that I would not change a thing. I always had a great time at work and that is very important. I also had the great opportunity to work as technician and, that is something that I always wanted to do.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: Like any other job, this one was very hard sometimes. It was never easy dealing with manufacturers, clients, vendors, hospital staff and of course, the most important thing: dealing with hundreds of pieces of medical equipment that needed to be fixed or calibrated. I have had to deal with 20 different medical devices that needed to be re-calibrated because the manufacturer provided us with defective parts.

I think that the most important thing that I did not learn at school about the working world is the fact that one has co-workers and supervisors. While at school, one only has classmates and teachers. I thought that co-workers would be more like classmates, as supervisors would be like teachers, but I was completely wrong because of the different responsibilities that we all have at work. But, interacting with people has always been something that I like so I never had a problem properly interacting with supervisors and co-workers.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

I believe that the strangest thing that ever happened to me in this job was during Christmas time, when I had to work for more than 5 hours on a medical sterilizer that was not working properly. I fixed it and took it back to the clinic, where it worked perfectly. But, when I was on my way out, I received a phone call about this device not working again. This went on for 5 hours; I had to pick up the device from the clinic to take it to my lab downstairs; I fixed it and I showed it to the supervisor by doing several sterilizing cycles with it; I took it back upstairs and, in 15 minutes, the device was not working again. This drove me crazy for a few hours but, my supervisor told me to stop worrying about a sterilizer that was 20 years old, because the lab was going to get rid of all of these old devices. From that exact moment, the device started working and has given no problems since.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I love the idea of getting a great salary but I really enjoyed this job because my co-workers were amazing. They were the nicest people that I have ever worked with. They were always willing to help each other and I learned very much from them. But I loved receiving compliments from doctors and hospital staff every time I was able to fix one of their medical devices.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: I hate the physical part about this job because some tasks require physical strength. To be honest, am not a big guy and I really had difficulties lifting up some devices, but my co-workers made me understand that technicians must not rush, otherwise the job will not ever be properly done. So they taught me how to take my time and how to make the physical part easier for me.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job is very stressful in the sense that medical devices are very important and need to be back to working as soon as possible. Sometimes, one of those medical devices can delay the test results for days, which it is very important because, at the end, I am dealing with human beings who need to be treated immediately. In order for me to keep a comfortable and healthy work-life balance, I had to take this job very seriously; otherwise, one can be spending many days off doing overtime because devices were not successfully fixed. It is very important to have it done correctly the first time or the device will not be working properly and will be back in the lab again.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: The salary was never an issue; these technical jobs are always paying well because it really requires qualified professionals. In order for these professionals to work hard while having a pleasant personal life, companies must provide good salaries and benefits.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: The time off is based on the number of hours that one works overtime. Basically, technicians have vacations for 30 days a year, but this job requires one to work overtime mostly every day. Companies in Europe can pay up to 20 hours a week on overtime, but there is a limit on the yearly number of hours. I believe that my company was only paying 10 hours a week and the rest of the overtime was offered as time off.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: It is obvious that one needs a great educational background and several years of work experience. I know from my experience that these Bioengineering companies only want people with work experience as electronic, electric or mechanic technicians. These companies usually provide training so technicians can learn new devices and techniques.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I will always say that this job is great for its salary and its technical aspect. At least, that is what I liked most about this job. But I also have to say that it is hard work, stressful and sometimes too crazy. But it feels great when one knows that these devices are helping people's lives.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

If I could, I would love to start up my own Medical Devices company because I had a great time but, the most important, I also have great skills for this job.