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How do I jumpstart my career in RF? - RF Cafe Forums

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 Post subject: How do I jumpstart my career in RF?
Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:19 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:42 am
Posts: 2
Hi all, Hi Kirk

I'm a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo's EE program. I've spent a great deal of time in upper year deciding whether to go into RF or Software. Though I have a great deal of passion for both fields, after much deliberation (not wanting to give up on EE), I've decided that RF is the right
career path for me

Unfortunately my co-op experiences (6 terms in total, 2 years worth) are largely in software. This is partially because serious RF courses didn't start until fourth year (when you've got all the basics). and I felt cheated out of my degree because just as I was starting to learn something interesting they gave me a piece of paper. I worked at QUALCOMM as an applications engineer for my last workterm. It was still software, and though they offered me a job I declined because i knew if i took it I'll be stuck in software/app eng forever. QUALCOMM was a great company, and my dream job would be QUALCOMM's RFIC designer

As a result I've decided to go for masters and I'm applying for them right now, giving me a year of free time to do something about my career

I know how difficult to it is to get that first job in the RF design, and without practical experience even with a master it'd be VERY difficult. I dont want to be stuck in the same place, without relevent experience, after my master.

So I propose the following 3 possible things I can do during my year of free time.

1. Go back to taiwan (where I immigrated from), and try to get a design job (still unlikely) in RF, OR try to get a testing job in RF (very likely given my foreign degree). I know the hours will be very bad because they always work you like a horse. Work/Life balance is non-existent there. Therefore if I have a testing job I will not have any chance to read up on RF textbook, do problems, or play around with ADS/Momemtum, Cadence, or any design tool. However I'll have something to show on my resume, and learn about RF testing (IP3, 1-db compression, s parameters measurement and the likes, which i imagine would get boring quickly, please tell me if this helps future career path as designer)

2. Use the year to familiarize myself with the design tools. Read up a lot of RF (do problems in Pozar, and other RF books), tutorials at www.rfic.co.uk etc. and review digital/analog circuit theory, etc etc. Basically try to teach myself design. I'd put personal projects on resume. I dont know how much this will count since I'm not really working for anyone and just playing around. I imagine I'd learn a lot this way. But is it advisable? Is it better to start in testing?

3. Try to contact a prof@waterloo and work for them if possible. This could be a mix of design/testing. But this also is uncertain and may not be possible. However I'd have someone to mentor me and answer my questions. Unlike option 2 where I might get stuck or go off in a tangent

Please advise me on what you would do, looking back at your career. I'm 22 right now and I know RF is not an easy field. I love it for the challenge, the engineering, the math, the thrill of understanding. I love how it has communication, control, circuits, software, all embedded

Thank you and I greatly appreciate you time and advice.


 Post subject: Random Thoughts
Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:14 pm
Posts: 13
Just some random thoughts

1-Have you tried looking for a job in RF? Just because all of your co-op's are in software doesn't mean you can't find an entry level job. Most freshouts are dumb as a box of rocks anyway 1/2 :-) , so it might not make much of a difference. That would be my first suggestion

2-I'd stay away from RF testing positions if possible. You might not be able to get out of that into a circuit level position. (Are you talking about drive testing or hardware testing? )

3-I wouldn't hire you in Tiawan knowing you would be quitting in a year to go back to school. Just something to think about.

4- A combination of 2 and 3 might work out well. Take a look at MIT's open courseware as well.

Why is it going to take a year to get into school?


 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:38 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:42 am
Posts: 2
Hi RFDave,

Thanks for your response. The reason it took me an extra year was because I was really debating between a masters in CS versus masters in EE specializing in RF. I thought I'd wait and see if it leans one way or the other. I still had some RF courses coming up during last year's application dates and I thought I didnt want to choose until I had finished them.

I havent tried looking yet because I cannot relocate at the moment and Vancouver is a dead place for RF engineering. I'm also working on writing up a revised resume specifically for RF positions.

Thank you for your advice on staying away from testing jobs. So is it right to say that testing experiences aren't really applicable to design?

I've taken a look at MIT's open courseware, High Speed Communication Circuits and Systems looks good

Thanks again

 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:10 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:14 pm
Posts: 13
It really depends on what you mean by testing. If you are doing drive coverage testing for a cellular carrier, I'd have to say it's pretty useless for a circuit design position. Possible better than spending a year reading and running simulations, but not so applicable to circuit design.

If you are doing factory test of hardware, then it's more useful.


 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:22 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 392
Location: Germany
My 2 cents:

From my personal career experience, if you want to have a rich and efficient RF career, then start with a testing role in which you will learn the importance of RF measurements and testing. This experience will be of help later when you will design products that will eventually be delivered into production. Most designers I have seen lack this experience and they design products without paying the right attention to issues as DFM, DFT, without knowing what is statistical analysis, Cpk etc. All of this leads to immature products which required more than 1 design itteration - which for me personally was never required because I have also rich testing experience.

This is of course not with respect to your education degree...

 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:14 pm
Posts: 13
I just went and read through your original posting, and it sounds like you are talking about a real hardware test job. That would probably be useful instead of reading and studying for a year. To clarify, I've seen RF testing jobs advertised that are drive testing, which I would consider not applicable. If you are testing radios at the bare board level, with Spectrum Analyzers/Network analyzers etc, then that will be worthwhile to do.


 Post subject: Re: How do I jumpstart my career in RF?
Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:26 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:05 am
Posts: 11
Dear Professionals,
I am third year student of Electronics Engineering.I need your guidence.
I have job offer(Internship leading to Job) from a fortune 500 company(sort of management),But I want to pursue my career in RF field.I want to decline internship offer but I wonder if RF field promise such a good career?
What is salary range of a good RF design engineer?which Rf companies are known to best?
Secondly ,I still have one year before I apply for RF design jobs.In this year I want to practice RF design tools and some design problems.
Can you list some design tools and Design problems ,I should do before I apply for RF design jobs?
My english is poor so apologize my for mistakes.

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