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What do Field Service Engineers do? Do I need a science degree? Agilent Technologies has your answers! Click to learn more.

What do Field Service Engineers do? Do I need a science degree? Agilent Technologies has your answers! Click to learn more.
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper on October 03, 2022

Our Field Service Engineers (FSEs) do meaningful work. Agilent’s mission is to deliver trusted answers and insights that enable our customers to advance quality of life. Our innovations, solutions & expertise enhance outcomes in the efforts to conduct ground-breaking research. Apply to become an FSE or explore over 260+ Remote & Onsite roles today!

Our Diversity Recruitment Program Manager, Keith Nishida, interviewed one of our star employees & Service Manager, Babatunde, to answer key questions about Field Service Engineers at Agilent. Enjoy!

Q: Tell us your name, role at Agilent, how long you’ve been with the company, where you are currently located?

A: Hi, I’m Babatunde Awoyinka, District Service Manager working Remotely out of Minnesota serving 8 states in the region. I’ve been at Agilent for 7 years, 4.5 years of it as a Field Service Engineer (FSE). I primarily worked with liquid & gas chromatography, mass specs and trained on the software as well. Biomolecular stuff! I started as an entry-level Service Engineer. That means I had a science background and I interviewed well enough for Agilent to say “let’s take a shot on this guy and see if he can learn the technical skills and apply the soft skills.” But…I definitely bombed my interview!

Q: What? You bombed the interview? Tell us what happened!

A: That was the perspective I had. One of the interview questions was “Can you explain how gas chromatography (GC) works?” I was grasping for straws to put it nicely! The interview went on, the last question they asked was “If there’s something you can change or something you would do differently, what would that be?” Jokingly I said “I’m gonna go back home and learn more about GC to make sure I can nail that question next time!” Everyone laughed. I still got offered the job and the Hiring Manager later said, “You did exactly what we need our Field Engineers to do. You reflected on something you maybe didn’t do perfectly/correctly, and you figured out what you had to do to make sure that didn’t happen again…and just being open and honest helped me get the entry-level Field Service Engineer position.

Q: So, what is a Field Service Engineer (FSE) anyhow?

A: FSEs are the Face of Agilent. Primary responsibility is taking care of customers and maintaining that relationship. Addressing the stress/pain-points and frustrations voiced. Some FSEs are requested by the customers by name! Customers are happy to see you because the FSE has built a strong relationship with the customers. We do software updates, installations, customer introductions, compliant services, maintenance, repairs, etc. FSEs provide whatever is needed on-site, often working at a lab setting. Key questions FSEs ask themselves are “How do I fix it? How do I explain to the customer to avoid the problem from happening again?” At Agilent, when you get hired as an FSE, you go to what we call the Neophyte Class. There, you receive both software and hardware training. FSEs are 1st Relationship-builders and Technical Supporters.

Q: You mentioned training…Do you need an Engineering degree or background to succeed as an FSE? If so, what type of engineering?

A: First, I need to say…you DON’T need a science background to work at Agilent. We are a scientific-based company but we will ALWAYS have a need for all sorts of different roles from finance to HR. Specifically FSE roles, actually NO, you don’t necessarily need an Engineering degree. The important piece here is the comfort of working in a lab space. Do you know what PPE is required to be in the lab? How do I work in fume-hoods? Typically, this mean you are a Chemistry, Biology or adjacent laboratory-based major. Depends on the hiring manager, but I find it important to complete your college degree when applying.

Q: What qualities do you find successful Field Service Engineers have?

A: Being a FSE is a customer service role, so how you can manage and grow relationships with people, our customers is key. Clearly and consistently communicating your schedule & intents for visitations. Ability to learn the trade, learn the needs of the customer and the ability to trouble-shoot and logically split the issue. All important qualities.

Q: Favorite story while on the job?

A: I mentioned earlier that if you are a successful FSE, you will have grown and maintained relationships with your customers right? Getting to know them is the key to success. When I was a Field Engineer, in passing, I had casually mentioned to a good customer that my wife/we were expecting a baby. The next time I came to visit about 7 months later, they had a gift for me to give to my daughter before she was born. [Insert sigh/aww]. So, being able to build relationships like that is so powerful to have, to being a Field Service Engineer.

Q: Why Agilent?

A: I needed a job! [Insert laugh] Actually, back then when I was job hunting...I had changed my name from “Babatunde” to “Tim” on my resume in effort to get more interviews because with my “Babatunde” name, I wasn’t getting any callbacks for jobs I was capable of. Switched to “Tim” and reapplied to new places and there was a clear change. One of the places I applied as myself, “Babatunde Awoyinka” was Agilent, and I got an interview and got the job! The hiring manager (who is still my manager!) later told me, “I just really love your name!” She may not know this, but hearing that was really meaningful to me because I wasn’t changing who I feel like I am to try to get a job somewhere. So this is a perspective of why I chose Agilent. It’s that culture piece that I just so much appreciate.

Q: That was a heartfelt answer! Last question: Tips for people interested in applying for a Field Service Engineer or interviewing tips in general?

A: Yeah, I try to remind people that “you know who you are as a person, the purpose of the interview is to try and help the interviewer get to know you in that same way.” Being honest with yourself is going to be a lot more successful. It’s easier to be confident because I’m being authentic. Typically, in an interview it’s easy to share your technical skills (and important you be honest of your level of experience on your resume), harder to show your soft skills. Doing your best to relate, have a conversation, etc. We’re really trying to get to know you and how you can build those relationships. I very strongly believe that people who get interviews… you have the technical skills or the potential to build the technical skill [or you would not be getting interviewed!]. I can train you to work on an instrument…it’s very difficult to train people to relate with others. For entry roles, it’s okay to say “I don’t have experience in that” but follow-up with how you will be ready to learn about it and quickly apply that. If we’re interviewing you, it means we think you have potential!

Thank you SO much Babatunde for this insightful interview! We hope people reading this found it invaluable.

Interested in joining a leading global biotechnology company and team? Don’t wait, search and APPLY TODAY!
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John Schappert
Principal Owner/CEO PMP, MCSE at Schappert Services
Great article and as a previous FSE in my younger days it is so spot on. I was always a computer person but had to learn, Lasers and its applications,Networking and extensive understanding of color printing and all its aspects. Then I taught all these concepts as well as macro and micro mechanics and electronics and interactions. Then I had to put this altogether in teaching. Lastly this led me to being a PMP, MCSE, Technical writer etc and Manager of worldwide new color laser product introductions. I had a Marketing, Economic and Business Management degrees so no you don't need an engineering degree John
Monday, November 21st 2022 at 11:25PM
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