John Desilets calls his new applications engineer position at software vendor SPRING Technologies a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His career path includes being a CNC machinist and programmer for more than 10 years, and along the way to where he is now, he developed a view that manufacturing is an art that should be respected.
At the company’s North American headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., Desilets provides technical and promotional support for a machine simulation software product. He took time out from his schedule to tell IMT Career Journal how he overcame his biggest challenge and what it takes to be an applications engineer, a profession that has been listed more than once as one of the best jobs in America by CNNMoney/Payscale.com.
IMT Career Journal: What does your job as applications engineer involve?
Desilets: As applications engineer, I am responsible for providing our customers with complete technical support for our product, NCSIMUL (a comprehensive machine simulation software). I am responsible for training customers on how to use our product and how to be efficient with our software. I travel the United States and parts of Europe to give demonstrations of NCSIMUL to potential customers. I work with the sales team, providing video demonstrations and presentations to help promote our product.
IMT Career Journal: How did your career path lead you to your new position at Spring Technologies?
Desilets: In high school, my focus was in computer science and networking. I was fascinated by the world of computers, so naturally I was drawn to computer science. While taking classes in high school, I started working part-time at a machine shop George Gordon Associates.
Soon after I started working at the machine shop, I fell in love with manufacturing. I slowly changed my direction from networking to manufacturing and CNC programming. I saw manufacturing as making something from nothing and as something to be respected as an art.
IMT Career Journal: Where did you get your education, and what was your major/degree?
Desilets: I graduated from Nashua Senior High School (Nashua, N.H.) in the class of 2003. I attended Nashua Community College for a few classes in CNC programming and computer aided drafting. I have a certificate of completion from the Mazak school for mill center lathes in Florence, Ky. Most of my knowledge was acquired over the 11 years I spent in trade. This included on-the-job training with programming, computer aided machining and much more.
IMT Career Journal: Was the job search process in your field complicated or was it easier than you expected?
Desilets: It was surprisingly easy. I had my resume online for companies to view, and I was approached by SPRING Technologies. It was a good match for both of us.
IMT Career Journal: What’s your greatest advice for those pursuing the applications engineering field?
Desilets: During the 11 years I spent in the trade, I never stopped learning and never settled for second best. If you work hard and have an opportunity to take that next step, don’t hesitate. Never stop learning, and never stop improving.
IMT Career Journal: What has been biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome in this profession so far?
Desilets: My biggest challenge was public speaking. As part of my job, having confidence while speaking to customers and prospects is crucial. Now, when faced in front of a room full of people, I have no problem explaining and showing how amazing our product is.
IMT Career Journal: When you tell people that you’re an applications engineer, what is the reaction you get?
Desilets: [People are] excited and proud.
IMT Career Journal: Did you have a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be in your chosen profession?
Desilets: I had a moment of clarity when I received the official offer letter from SPRING Technologies. I knew right then this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I just could not miss.
IMT Career Journal: Who or what inspires you?
Desilets: My mother, father, sister and brother-in-law have been my true inspiration and support. Without them I would not be where I am today.