My Education: BA, Economics, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
My Prior Experience: I started as a staff accountant at a CPA firm, but soon became a software tester for software publisher. Next, I went to work as a jack-of-all-trades at a software start-up company. Then, I became a software instructor for computer sales company. Then, I spent 10 years as a technology consultant for the same company. After that, I moved in to pre-sales engineering which is where I have been ever since.
My Company: I work for a large computer manufacturer selling data storage equipment such as disk drives, tape drives and tape libraries.
Job/Career Overview: The Systems Engineer's job is to advise people who don't understand technology. One of my customers described it this way while pointing at the sales representative sitting next me, "I like you." Then, he pointed at me and said, "But, I trust you." So, I took that as my goal: to be trustworthy and always tell the truth about the technology.
So, I use a software drawing program called Visio to create pictures of what we want to sell to our customers. I teach customers about the benefits of the products. I warn them about the limitations of the product. I spend a lot of time on the phone with my customers because they're scattered around the world. Also, I use a program called WebEx to teach things to my customers. I only travel about a quarter of the time.
I keep an eye on how well our products do. But I only get called infrequently about problems with our support and I usually put my customers in touch with smarter people than I am who can help get things fixed.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
The best part of my job is the relationships I get to have with really good people. The other cool thing is that I get to create solutions for my customers that fit their needs. My favorite thing to be involved with is strategy or "the art of the deal."
My least favorite thing is paperwork and company politics. Also, I don't like the pressure that comes when I have to create a long document that proposes our solution in a very short amount of time.
1. Learn how to use programs like Microsoft Visio, Project, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. These are fundamental tools for a systems engineer.
2. Find a mentor in the field you are pursuing and follow his advice.
3. When you want to learn a lot quickly about something, offer to teach a class on it. Preparation for classes is the best teacher.