A day on the job (as an electrical engineer)

Following the trend of some of my favourite blogs (Declutterer by Fiona and An Exacting Life by Dar), I’m posting a day in the life of an electrical engineer at a big power company in Sydney.  This is a hybridised version of how I think today should go based on other days!

5.38am – 6am: wake up to my alarm that’s progressively one minute earlier every day.  Get on my sports gear and head out for a run/walk of about 2kms

6am – 6.40am: shower, dress, eat breakfast, tidy the kitchen, read some of the bible, snuggle with BF and talk about day ahead

6.40am-6.55am: drive to work – the best part of this time of day is it’s not too busy, and we all know what we’re doing, there’s few ‘silly drivers’ and never crashes or breakdowns 😀

6.55am-7am: stop at the local cafe for a mocha (since the work coffee machine broke).  Love they know me and my order, and now have a bowl with change for us regulars to deposit our payments.

7am: Arrive at work, archive all the ‘blog’ emails, but click on a few favourites, and load one or two favourite blogs in the browser (that I don’t get via email).  Open work emails and read the latest.

7am -8.30am: Review spreadsheet of 12,000 notifications for tasks, focusing on the urgent (5) and priority categories (455 with 34 overdue).  Make phone calls with field supervisors to discuss the requirements of the oldest jobs – outage requirements, times of day, what their site visits established, what I can do to help resolve the notifications.  Draft a letter to customers advising them that the previously planned outage has been cancelled and work can now be completed without an outage.  Write paperwork for other switchings, reviewing the loading on the substation (low voltage: 240V/415V), looking at the isolation (low and high voltage (11kV) as the job requires), printing applicable maps, and attaching forms to be completed, before emailing them to all the required people. I must check if there’s any key customers, or medical customers if I’m planning an electricity outage, and ensure I meet them face to face, or speak to them on the phone, to be sure they understand the power outage and the impact on them.

8.30am-9am: Commute to another depot for a bi monthly meeting of the safety equipment and uniform committee, as I’m the female representative.

9am-11am: Review decisions on clothing and safety equipment (wonder about my post, if it went live automatically at 10am… if anyone is reading it yet ;))

11am-12pm: Drive to suburb to deliver the amended letters to the industrial customers that will no longer have an outage.  Drop by another depot to drop off old uniforms (from before the rebranding – the company assures us they are being recycled.  We’re not allowed to donate our clothing to charity without removing the logo, which effectively renders them useless).

12pm -12.15pm: Heat my lunch and chat to staff at this depot.  Discuss recent restructuring briefing, and bemoan the changes to the overall culture.

Photos of an asset impeded by the growth of vegetation
Photos of an asset impeded by the growth of vegetation

12.15pm – 1pm: Return to my usual office, via a site that I was emailed about in the morning.  There are concerns that foliage around the handle of the pole mounted equipment are impedding effective operation.  I take some photos of the issue to email to contract tree trimming.

1pm – 3.30pm: Forward email about tree trimming.  Read new work emails, forwarding and responding as necessary.  Review shared calendar to see if more work has been booked.  Review works planned for exactly two weeks time, and check another email inbox to check switching paperwork has been submitted.  Follow up with staff at another site about issues with submitting paperwork, and work through any issues.

3.30pm-4pm: I usually finish work at 3.30pm, however I don’t have anywhere to be straight after work, so I take the time to tidy my desk, and review my career episode reports (required to gain certification in my profession). This is required by my employer, but I feel it’s more appropriate to complete it after hours.

4pm-4.30pm: Commute to my parents house

5pm-5.45pm: Get physio on my right shoulder from a break two years ago, and on going niggles in my neck that are causing headaches.

5.45pm-9pm: Return to my parents home, for dinner with my family. Each of us kids takes turns when we get home (at various times) to follow our mother around and ‘download’ our day to her.  Don’t worry, she downloads in between too!  My brother leaves for South America on Saturday, so it’s the last time together as a family for 10 months.  Leave a pair of shorts with mum, to get new fabric for and have copied by her tailor.

9pm-9.30pm: Drive from my parents back to my house, and meet the BF whose enjoyed (?) another night alone on the couch, as I’ve already been out two nights in the week for water polo.

9.30pm: Attempt to be in bed, reading, after a quick shower.  The BF will either come to bed with me (if this time ‘creeps’), or lay with me before I start reading to have a chat about the day asking ‘what was good that happened in your day today?’ (Such a great way to focus the daily debrief in the positive!).  Change my morning alarm for 1min earlier.

How does this compare to your day?  Feel free to post about a day in your life!  And, I bet you’re wondering where I get all my blog reading and commenting in – well so do I! I’m lucky to have the smart phone in gaps of time, to catch up on posts.

14 Replies to “A day on the job (as an electrical engineer)”

  1. Crazy busy, Sarah! I haven't worked at a job in which scheduling, deadlines and the timeliness of updates are so crucial. I didn't realize you were still going to water polo as well as your new run/walk routine!

    1. It's certainly a step up from what I used to do – that'd be a dull 'day in the life' most days! Yeah water polo continues, so I'm a little worn out, but I hope I'll see results soon – I'd love to get back to my uni age weight or even dip into the next 'decade' of weights.

  2. Wow…I had some inkling of your job, Sarah but I feel like I "know" a totally different side of you now I've read this post! That is really quite scary being responsible for such a huge load of cases – and especially when it's in the essential services arena. Does your mentor help with "workload management" strategies? Gosh, I looked at the foliage pic and thought immediately of "Black Saturday" in Victoria in 2009. So interesting to read about your job, it's really a unique field!

    1. I find it hard to explain my job, so I think this exercise helped me to do that (but also to give me a boot up the backside to do what I say I will, and I did!)

      It's an incredible weight on my shoulders, this new role, between managing some staff (some of the time) to managing customers and their outages, and then balancing with staff availability to do work on site, there's so many balls in the air.

      Interesting you mention workload management – I spoke to both mentors when I started, and the person formally in the role, and that's helped me get on top of it better. The best strategy I use is to self limit the scope of what I'm working on! I also analyse the stats very regularly to show myself my great progress when I'm feeling swamped.

      The foliage isn't so much for bushfires (the woman over my shoulder is in charge of that), but it's more general access. We have some pretty well executed trimming schedules, but sometimes low level cover gets overlooked, so it's raised by whomever finds it, and then comes to me to get it sorted.

  3. Thanks for posting about your day – your job sounds really constant and interesting. It sounds like you manage your time really well and also have a good balance between desk work and getting out and about.

    1. Thankfully this day in the life had some inside and outside – often it's heavily weighted inside, as I feel I get the most value at the desk. Until I realise ,if I don't go see some of these tasks, no one will, and then I'll never get them scheduled! It's a nice change, and I feel productive when I see a few sites in one outing, like I managed today.

  4. Love reading these sorted posts.

    I posted a comment on Dar's post about my day. My days are busy, and normally long, generally 7.40 to 5.30, with on average one evening function a week. This week I had two evening events, next week none, week after that two again. They go generally to about 10pm. Makes for a long day. But it is the emotional exertion that makes it really tiring.

    Today I started at 8am, running late because it didn't get home from a work function until 11.30pm. I ducked off early at 4.30 as I am buggered. Inbetween, I counselled a distressed staff member; interviewed staff about a complaint and communicated with our central complains department by phone and email about this; read and edited about 70 student reports, all with 11 pages; looked into three storage areas and investigated how to dispose of the e-waste stored there; worked out how we can convert an office into a classroom and negotiated with staff in another staff room to take another person; inspected the new furniture ordered; signed order and payment forms; wrote a letter requesting a staff member be exempt from jury duty; spoke with a student to check she was OK after an injury at school; spoke with a group of students to check they were OK (looked like they were arguing but not); listened to two different groups of staff lobbying for change of expenditure of funds and worked out how they could legitimately spend funds; talked about changes to our Annual Financial Statement with head office lady as it is due next week; finalised special award recipients for end of year presentation; discussed with Careers Adviser proposed external course being requested by a student and the implications of this course and how to communicate these concerns to the student's mother; phoned another mother about suspension resolution for her daughter and options for the rest of year; planned with my second in charge what to do about several staff members, discussed changes to classrooms & changes to staffing, furniture ordering, what to do about difficult staff member, helped him with a referral for additional support; answered several emails; checked on several students attendance and behaviour with front office; suspended and counselled a student (who ended in tears); reminded another executive member we had to plan a professional learning morning and work on next year's strategic plan. I think that is it. Morning tea is eaten while working, lunch is 15 minutes.

  5. Hi Sarah! Sounds like a busy day! I didn't know much about electrical engineering, and I also didn't know that was your job. As someone else said, I feel like i know a new side of you!
    Btw- i had my baby- i could do a day in the life of a new baby, although i think my tales would inspire birth control 🙂 (me+no sleep=grump)

    1. CONGRATULATIONS! My friend also just had her baby, and named her Poppy, which incidentally is my nickname – I know this girl will be forever asked if it's her 'real' name!

      My BF would definitely promote you telling me the tales, he thinks I'm far to keen for children! I'm sorry you're so sleep deprived, I feel something similar (haha, I'm sure it's nothing like it) with all the early starts. I'm glad I introduced you to engineering just a little more.

  6. That's definitely a busy day! I missed all of these posts (but am catching up now) so I may have to do one myself (although a day in the life of a PhD student might seem quite slack compared to the rest of you!).

    1. Welcome back from the Melb trip. I'm sure we'd learn about you from your day in the life – and other PhD applicants might be interested too, perhaps?

  7. Sarah, this peek into a typical day for you exhausted me. It has been many years since I was stuck living by a schedule that I can’t imagine doing it ever again. I have to say the best parts of your day were the ones with your parents and the snuggling with the BF before reading at night. These are the moments I would enjoy the most, that with loved ones.

    1. I'm glad to hear it's exhausting to you – cause I often feel exhausted and wonder if it's me, or whether I am doing too much!

      The snugglng is quite good – I try to get some in every morning and every evening. It's when we feel most connected and communicate. And my family is full of laughs, I wish they were neighbours!

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