If one searches Linkedin for jobs for Telecommunications Engineers, one can find about 680 vacancies. 97.1% of the graduates in this engineering they have work, according to the latest data published by the INE. And they are one of the most demanded profiles, both in Spain and globally.
The average salary of a telecommunications engineer was 52,711 euros gross per year (almost double the national average), according to the report Present and future of the telecommunications engineer, prepared jointly by the Official College of Telecommunications Engineers (COIT), the Spanish Association of Telecommunications Engineers and the consultancy IDC.
However, there are telecoms that decide to change the scene, abandon this part of engineering and dedicate themselves to things that, on occasions, have nothing to do with their university studies: from the person who has reached the general management to the one who dedicates himself to manage investments through the one who becomes a journalist.
Of course, whatever they work on, they all agree that they would study telecommunications again.
What I saw in the race and little else
We have spoken with three engineers who meet this profile: Javier Gancedo, Montse Peidró and David Fernández. The former is now a journalist for the European Basketball League. She is vice president of strategy at Pax8. Fernández has a startup investment company.
The latter acknowledges that his experience as an engineer was very brief. “My first job was at Repsol, but the truth is that they were looking for an industrial engineer more than a telecom operator,” he admits. In addition, he already from the beginning he saw that his work was more focused in project management and equipment than in something more typical of engineering.
Gancedo did have a job more related to his studies. He worked for an Alcatel subcontractor. “I had to fix things around the world. I spent seven months in Taiwan and seven in Madrid. I changed houses four times in 18 months,” he recalls. And, although he assures that they did not treat him badly, he does admit that it was not the life he liked to live. Among other things because the one who is now his wife and then his girlfriend lived in Barcelona.
Peidró did work as an engineer as soon as she finished her studies, something she admits was not normal, since most of her desk mates ended up as salespeople or product managers. After an Erasmus scholarship and presenting her final project in Frankfurt, this engineer took part in a program for incorporating students into companies. could choose between Motorola, IBM, Siemens or HP and she did it for the latter, moved, she admits, by the impact that an accident that her brother had had, which kept him in a hospital where he was monitored by HP medical teams.
Although he assures that the experience was hard, among other things because it was a very masculine environment and with a German philosophy, he spent seven years working in engineering.
the moment of change
For Peidró, the abandonment of this engineering part occurred when HP divided into two large groups, selling all the medical part to Philips. He began to delve deeper into the business part, in technical pre-sales, until in the year 2000 when his director, of French origin, offered him to be a product manager for large-format printers. Barely a year later, HP decided to establish its headquarters for this business in Barcelona.
“It’s a road of no return“, assures Peidró. “I only know of one person who, having left an engineering job, has been able to return after 22 years as a product manager.”
The change for Gancedo came hand in hand with his great passion: basketball. In an amateur way, he wrote about this sport, also for the Copa del Rey of the Spanish competition. “I had always liked basketball. I knew it. They were looking for someone to write and they offered me to work for them during the Final Four, with the hope that it would be a permanent position,” explains Gancedo, who also concedes that he had little confidence that the latter was to be fulfilled.
But as soon as they called him, he did not think twice, among other things because this also allowed him to move to Barcelona. “I wrote as a hobby and I was lucky that, while working for teleco, I had Internet access in 1994, which allowed me to write in both English and Spanish.”
Manage telecommunications projects
After his time at Repsol, Fernández had other jobs that, although they were not purely engineering, did allow him to be close to these studies, such as being responsible for the deployment of fiber optics in what is now Orange.
He was also one of the spokespersons for AMETIC (when it was the employer of the telecommunications operators) in managing the controversial installation of telephone networks in Valladolid (there was very bad press due to many cases of childhood cancer in the city, which generated much social alarm and opposition to the installation of new towers). “My work was to raise awareness, both to the media and to municipal technicianssince many of them did not want to approve the installation of an antenna due to that crisis of confidence”, he recalls.
Fernández assures that he only spent four months programming after finishing his studies, and that even then he realized that he did not want to be a programmer all his life.
What the race gave me
David Fernández believes that telecoms have a highly valued profile in all businesses, especially at the management level (both budgets and projects and teams) due to how the studies are set up. “It’s a long-distance race. The first year is a true sieve. They put so many tests on you and in such complex situations that either you look for your life, or you end up leaving ”, he assures.
In your opinion, “an engineering deconstructs your mind. Then you start to rebuild, but you have to develop adaptability and flexibility.”
For Montse Peidró, studying teleco also prints and forges a special type of character. “You spend many hours alone. You have to have a lot of determination to dedicate yourself to something that may not be important to others, but it is to you”. She remembers how many weekends in her college years she couldn’t go out to study. Something that, when working, has to be corrected because “you feel very comfortable being alone and isolated. That more social part, in processes you have to integrate into a team and you have to learn Spanish, which can be complicated and hard”.
In addition, he ensures that telecoms also have to have humility. “You can believe that you are the master of the world and that nothing resists you.”
Gancedo does not, however, have good memories of his student years. “I wasn’t in the right place, it took me a long time to get my degree,” he says, adding that from that time he doesn’t keep in touch with many fellow students.
But he assures that his training allows him, above all, to handle data and find things quickly. “It also forges you when dealing with extreme pressure. In teleco you know that you take a 3-hour exam and that it is the last problem that gives you the pass or not, “she says, assuring that this pressure” I have not had again in any job. And that in Taiwan he had to decide which node to cut, which meant that people were left without a phone, “she says.
Return to study teleco
When we ask them if they would return, despite everything, to study this telecommunications engineering, they all answer in the affirmative. “If it takes me to the same place where I am now, I would study teleco,” says Gancedo.
This teleco converted into a journalist would not return to practice the profession for which he studied. He does not rule out the possibility that I could be making more money if he did, “but basically being in the Euroleague means living the life I want. It’s my happiness and I don’t think money compensates for other things.” In addition, he assures that “if you are good at what you do and you like it, it is normal that you end up earning money” and that everything “depends on your priorities in life.”
David Fernández would also go through the same studies again because of the training they have given him. “You have to know very few things, but have them very clear, process them very well and make many relationships,” he details, claiming that this applies to all aspects of life. Although he admits to being the odd one out of his group of friends because he is now involved in a writers’ workshop, he also assures that sometimes you have a misconception about what an engineer is really like.
Montse Peidró, for her part, would also study telecom again, although she would choose another specialization. “My understanding of the products we carry is much greater than other colleagues, because they taught me to learn, to analyze in a very good way. Nothing seems difficult or unanalyzable to me. I would not have that mental structure without my studies, nor the capacity for effort and sacrifice”, he assures, giving as an example that he prioritized “study and knowledge over going out on a night in San Juan”.
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