An Interview with a
Quality Systems Engineer

I am currently employed as a quality systems engineer in the information technology industry. Specifically, the company I work for specializes in the creation of software and hardware for retail inventory scanning and asset optimization. I have held this position since graduating college roughly three years ago. At times, the stature of some of our clients or deadlines on important projects can make the job intimidating, but I consider myself to be a resilient, levelheaded and knowledgeable person and this confidence allows me to push through the difficult moments.

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I am a white male in my twenties and I have never personally experienced any type of discrimination at the workplace. This may be because I am not a minority by definition, but I like to believe that my associates of different ethnic backgrounds are also not experiencing any type of discrimination at our office. My company employs a very diverse group of individuals and discrimination of any type is something that is definitely not tolerated.

My company creates custom retail inventory programs based on the needs of the individual client. After the programming is completed, the project then comes to my department for thorough testing, at which point I will then certify the project to be used in a live environment or return it to programming for corrections. Being that I speak both English and Spanish, I typically work on projects for clients in our Spain or Mexico divisions. When you tell someone you are a quality systems engineer they are never really sure of what exactly you do. This is because the job title is very vague. A quality systems engineer in the information technology industry will perform a job that is very different from a quality assurance engineer in, say, the automotive industry

I would rate my job as an eight on a scale of one to ten. I enjoy my job because I feel I am good at it, but sitting at a desk all day sometimes bores me.

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As aquality systems engineer, My job doesn’t really involve doing anything that will affect the lives of others, so there isn’t a whole lot of emotional fulfillment involved. However, this does not mean that there are no moments of pride. Receiving compliments from a customer for a flawless project or being assured by a supervisor that I’m doing a great job is always a good feeling.

If someone were considering a bilingual position in the retail inventory industry, I would advise them that language is not the only difference between the inventory needs of companies in other countries. A project for a company in Mexico will be much different from a project for a company in America, from the products that need to be inventoried to the way the products are physically scanned.

I got started as a quality systems engineer because of my information technology degree and various certifications. If I could do it all over again, I would focus on accumulating more certifications and perhaps bypass the degree altogether.

This job has taught me that one small mistake on a project can cause a catastrophic issue when used in a live environment. The common perception that all people make mistakes does not apply in quality assurance. You do not want to be the guy who causes Walmart to botch their inventory because you missed something!

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I think one thing you don’t really learn in school is how important people skills are in a professional environment. I believe the connections you build with clients and associates have a huge impact on how your work is perceived.

I haven’t really had anything strange happen to me at work but I once was involved in a project for the Detroit Institute of Arts. That was a very cool museum and a unique experience that I will remember forever.

Being confident that you are good at something can really make a job enjoyable even if it is a boring office job like mine. I have had clients ask for me specifically to be involved on their projects because they were pleased with work I had done for them in the past. That is truly a great feeling and makes me believe I have found my calling as a quality systems engineer.

Deadlines on important projects at my company are very firm. There have been days where I have been at the office for 15 hours, until midnight, to meet a deadline. Days like those really make me wonder if it is worth it.

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Because of project deadlines, I can see how my job would be very stressful for most people. Personally, I try control my stress levels by living by the belief that all you can do is try your best.

When I was hired as a quality systems engineer out of college, my starting salary was $34,000 per year. I have received two merit raises since then worth $2,000 each. As I continue to gain experience, I expect to peak around $50,000 per year.

Our company offers two weeks of vacation per year for new hires. For every year of employment, we gain an additional vacation day until we peak at five weeks per year. I believe this is very fair and is probably the industry standard.

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To get started in my industry, a bachelor’s degree is a plus but usually not a requirement. The more important pieces of your resume are the information technology certifications you hold. Acquiring various Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA degrees is a great place to start.

If a friend were considering workin as a quality systems engineer, I would encourage them to think long and hard about if sitting at a desk for the majority of their time at work is something that is right for them. It seems to me that many people are not able to handle this and leave the industry for work that is more spontaneous.

Five years from today I would be more than happy to be working for the same company and continuing to produce great work. A goal of mine is to become the manager of my department and I would be thrilled if I could realize that sooner rather than later.

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Quality Assurance Solutions
Robert Broughton
(805) 419-3344
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