In May 2013, I graduated with an electrical engineering degree and a fascination with microprocessors and embedded system design. But instead of going to grad school or getting a job as many of my friends did, I took what a lot of people would call a completely irresponsible route:
I moved of out the US with my wife for a trip around the world that had no end date.
This had been a dream of hers for years, and after she had spent the last 7 years following me around, I thought it was only fair.
I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t in school, my wife and I didn’t have any kids, and I had no real responsibilities. I was left to pursue my own interests: microcontrollers and embedded systems. Left to my own devices, I would have worked on getting a job as an embedded design engineer somewhere, or maybe gone on to grad school like many of my friends. But instead, I took a different path.
As there weren’t any good guidelines I could find for my specific situation, it was up to me to figure out what to do to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, I did not do a great job. I never developed any goals or guidelines. Because of this, I lost a lot of time I could have used focusing on projects that I had been putting off until after graduating college, finding jobs online that would help in building experience towards the fields I was interested, or even taking college courses that would complement my interests.
I spent the first 2 months attempting to find my way. This is where I lost a significant amount of time. I limited myself to one freelancing site, bidding mainly on MATLAB and PCB-design jobs. There wasn’t much money in this (especially compared to the time the jobs took), and I could tell I wasn’t getting much out of it. So I moved on to iOS app development and MIT coursework.
This was a good step, because I knew that I was going to have to learn how to program iOS apps for some of the projects I wanted to get into. It took me almost a month before I had any apps doing much of anything. I still wasn’t satisfied though, and began to consider the idea of traveling with my hardware. I expanded my job searches to multiple online freelancing sites, and began to find jobs embedded systems jobs I could perform while traveling. I decided that when I went back to the States in December, I would pick up what hardware I could, and bring it on the road with me.
After my first 5½ months of trying to figure out how to mesh wife’s love of traveling with my love of engineering, I have one main suggestion to anyone else who might be thinking about doing the same thing:
Write down your goals!
If you do this, and work towards them, you can avoid being sidetracked and losing 2 or more months (unlike me!).
I’m planning on writing about more specific topics that I have learned about traveling and engineering, including how to find and land jobs from freelancing sites and what tools to bring with you if you are going to be doing any long term traveling and embedded design work. I’m also open to any other topics that you may have questions about traveling and engineering.