Feb2010

Bill was a very academic fellow who achieved a first class honours degree in engineering without having to study all that hard

Bill was a very academic fellow who achieved a first class honours degree in engineering without having to study all that hard. And because his dad had more than a few bob in the bank, Bill spent most of his summers holidaying in exotic locations with other members of the cognoscenti.

Ben, on the other hand, was not so academically inclined. Just to keep up with the rest of his peers, he spent hours struggling in the college library to master the coursework he’d been set. And, because his parents weren’t all that wealthy, he was forced to take on summer jobs working in industry to help pay the exorbitant university fees. But all that extra work took its toll, the result of which was that Ben only managed a rather poor second class degree.

When it came to finding employment, Bill was headhunted by a number of blue chip companies who were all keen that he should join their ranks. The fact that he had no industrial experience didn’t seem to matter one iota - it was obvious to all and sundry that he would be an asset to any organisation.

Ben wasn’t so lucky on the job front. Although he also sent his resume out to a number of organisations, the responses were few and far between. Most that did respond offered him positions in marketing, considering that he’d probably be better suited to it than engineering, which they clearly felt was the domain of brighter, more intelligent fellows.

Eventually, however, both Bill and Ben found work. The academically inclined Bill took a position at a large aerospace company where he joined a large team of engineers who were developing an electronics system for a highly classified space payload.

The less academically inclined Ben joined a Small to Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) that relied on its engineers to be jack-of-all trades who were versatile enough to solve any problem that was thrown at them. They hired Ben because they recognised what a valuable asset his industrial experience would be.

After five years, Bill became very dissatisfied with his position and his place. He could see no gratification working on the interminable aerospace project, so he decided to seek employment elsewhere where he might see more immediate rewards for his labours.

Oddly enough, at that very same time, the SME had posted an opening for a Technical Director to lead its entire team of engineers - Ben included. The position, of course, was open to all, and you won’t be surprised to hear that Bill the first class engineer and Ben, his less academically qualified counterpart, both applied for the job.

Sadly, as impressed as the company had been by Ben’s achievements over the years, the position was finally awarded to Bill, the fellow with the superior academic qualifications. Ben, of course, was naturally quite revolted by the fact and left the company soon afterwards. The last I heard was that he had moved to the very aerospace company Bill had turned his back on!
This comment was originally published in the Electronicstalk Newsletter

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About the Author

Electronicstalk and this Editor's Blog are edited by Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini began his career in the electronics press with the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1980, cutting his teeth on a variety of learned and member publications, ranging from IEE Proceedings to Electronics and Power. He moved on to join the launch team of the innovative weekly Electronics Express in 1986, and became Editor just 18 months later. Sadly, Electronics Express lasted just four and a half years, wound up by the infamous Robert Maxwell. However, Laurence had already jumped ship and joined the world of electronics PR with the agency of the 1990s, Smith and Jones Communications. It seemed Laurence was lost to the world of journalism. But after 11 years we managed to lure him back as launch editor of Electronicstalk. Laurence is married to Sally and has a young son, Alexander.

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