Snapback Hats - The Leading Choice of Celebrities

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It may sound odd, but one of the hardest things about my job at the moment is answering a simple question--Where do you live?

In our life, as it stands currently, there is a huge distinction between this question and 'Where are you from?' or 'Where is home?' The difference may seem minute--and normally is.

Snapbacks is most likely the most typical brand name produced and dispersed by New Era snapback hats. Some of the a lot more typical MLB hats you'll view celebs wearing are for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or LA Dodgers. These are all very popular groups that are based in large cities where personalities often tend to hang out.

It isn't that this is such a hard question to answer, but it is challenging to give an accurate summary before you get the look given to someone at the coffee machine that gives a detailed medical history when asked "How's it going?"

Since I signed on for my current job, I have struggled to answer this question more than a few times, so here is an attempt to answer it and showcase one example of how far a Chemical Engineering degree can take you.

The Business Card vs. The Actual Job

My business card states: Technical Advisor. Appropriately vague I think. I work for UOP, which--as our website states--has been delivering cutting-edge technology to the petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical, and major manufacturing industries for over 90 years.

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I work in Field Operating Services, which is the group that provides support in the field which can include any or all of: oversight of units under construction, loading of catalysts or adsorbents, startup, operations, revamping, or troubleshooting. This requires a trained and experienced group of highly mobile people. Depending on the process and nature of the project each assignment can last from 2 weeks to over a year (my typical stay is a few months).
Professionally, this provides a lot of experience in a short time frame. Essentially, every few months I get a new job with a new company and work in a new facility. A unit engineer working in the same process for 10 years might see one unit and one turnaround, while I have seen 3 this year. I see how different companies operate in different countries, new units, old units, private, government, big, small. I could be doing the same process and still have a lot of variety. It is also challenging working half way across the world from your managers and process experts.

While the New Era Hats styled for baseball teams are most definitely the most prominent, it's the college hats that can actually show folks just what you are everything about. Having satisfaction in your university could be extremely important and is also a great chat starter. If you are ever before in New York or LA and happen to view a celeb putting on the very same college wholesale snapback hats as you, you instantaneously have something to present yourself with instead of stating "I liked that last motion picture you were in" since they obtain that the time.

There is support, but many of the resources are half a day away so you need to able to absorb a lot of information quickly and think on your feet. It is amazing to talk to people that did this job before email was used--or even before international phone calls were easily accessible for some of the older folks. Then you really needed to know your stuff.

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Personal Benefits of The Job

Personally, I get to see a lot of the world that I never thought I would see. I am at my sixth location in the last 12 months--Taiwan, India, Japan, Spain, Taiwan again, and now Liaoyang, China. I love to travel and this job seemed like a good fit to feed that desire--but I never get to choose the location.

And it is almost always last minute. I usually have to be on a plane within a week (less if I don't need a visa) of hearing where I have been assigned. So forget about planning that dream vacation to the exclusive resort requiring booking months in advance. But I have been to amazing places that I would never have thought I wanted to see. There is also something to be said of spontaneous travel. With a schedule that changes frequently and drastically, I have fully embraced 'Carpe Diem'.

I have seen unique local festivals that you don't hear about on any travel channel, eaten foods I have never heard of (some I still don't know what they were). I've met many fascinating people.

On Friday afternoon sticking your finger at a map to choose where you are going to visit for the weekend can be a tremendously educating and liberating adventure. Without any time to develop strict timelines or form expectations you are truly free to explore a foreign land. Also, change can be like anything else that you do on a regular basis--you get better at it with practice. This isn't always good times and sunshine. What job is? But taking a long view of things, the average has been in the positive range so far.

So Back to the Question.

We do a lot of hotel living. Sometimes there are apartments or company guesthouses. The accommodations can be Spartan or

luxurious. You take what is available and make the best of it. We have gotten pretty good at finding the best local food and making meals with nothing more that an electric tea kettle. Trying to pack any of the belongings you might want for the next year under the airline weight limit (For anyone that saw 'Up In The Air' - What is in your backpack?) can be an interesting look into your personality and priorities. Extreme minimalism can be liberating. Like everything else, there are pros and cons--and electronics have made this much easier.

As I mentioned, home is currently Liaoyang, China, in the northeast between Russia and North Korea, somewhat near the coast. Fall is here with--what I have been promised is going to be--a cold winter not far behind. Stands coal-fire roasting nuts and potatoes are becoming more common.

We (that's right, I married a wonderful woman crazy enough to take this show on the road with a 1-year-old son) have been here for a few weeks, setting up the basics. You develop a priority list quickly. Grocery store, local cuisine (including finding our new favorite street vendor), attractions to see, intra-city, then intercity transportation. Enjoying the moment, because we don't know where we will be in the next.

New Era snapback hats is a company with a very abundant history that dates back to New York in 1920. New Era snapback hats are the only snapback hats worn by gamers in the MLB and small organizations and additionally is the leading choice of the NHL, NBA, and a lot of major colleges in the US. Dr snapback hat specializes in offering branded New Era snapback hats and is presently the UK's biggest independent store. Whether you're looking for the newest New Era snapback hat or one that's tougher to obtain hold of, make sure you offer Dr snapback hat a shot.

Here is a small selection of photos from the year 2010:


Would you consider "hanging your hat" in a location far from home?

photo source: Robert Szczesniak, flickr


Robert, thanks for this post and all the great photos that give us a glimpse into your life over 2010. So on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most, how much do you miss your home?

Robert S's picture

tajurg1 - There are a lot of opportunities involving travel out there. It seems that it is getting more difficult to build new facilities of many kinds in the US ($$ or NIMBY). We still have some value in knowledge and expertise. But we have to go there. I think adventure was the only way I was going to leave home - I don't think I could have taken a job like this if I was only traveling in the US. Just like when this phase comes to an end I know I am going to be looking to return home to Chicago, won't be looking to move away on a permanent basis. How much do I miss home? Haha! That answer can vary greatly depending on when you ask it. Right now we are around a 3. As Thanksgiving closes in that might shoot to a 7 or 8 for a week or so. We have been pretty luck so far, as the number gets high we usually move to a new assignment and it starts over. And we have been in pretty good locations. We have to look at over a long term, as long as the average stays below a 6 or so we are doing well. Right now we are really missing cheese, yogurt, and milk.

Robert S's picture

Thanks Kent!

RC Ramaswamy's picture

Good Blog Robert ! Some of the pictures, especially of India, made me remember home... BTW, you brought an interesting point - an engineer travelling across the world in this globalization era. I hink this is one form of life. But I am, offlate, have started thinking that in future many American/American born engineers, especially, have to travel to many of BRIC nations, especially to China. We and our kids may have to learn more languages like mandarin in addition to English..More and more such possibilities exist. comments?

Robert S's picture

RC - Thanks. Even as an experienced traveler, India was a sight to behold. Very eye-opening. Everyone is so passionate. Yes, I think that engineers need to travel to where things are being built. I see the same thing happening with my friends in Architecture. Much of the building is happening in BRIC countries, so travel to them is almost unavoidable - even if undesirable for some. Especially true as companies want more and more to hire experienced people but to get experience you might need to travel. The alternative is that as the engineer experience grows in a region they will be less willing to pay for engineers from the US. I do not stay in one place very long, so I have not been able to really pick up one language. And the language I learned in school (French) has not proved to be very useful. I have found that English is a very common second language and work is generally manageable. Though there are definitely challenges and disadvantages to not being strong in the local language. I am very good at reading the context of a situation and body language - that is my true second language. We are trying to teach our son a second language - but both of us coming from families that came to the US a long time ago (thus only speak English) , this is challenging as we have to learn it at the same time. And practicing it around the house is challenging. And which one to choose? But I think that any language exposure that you get as a young child is helpful. Even if you don't learn the language that you need in a certain location, you have a head start on how to attack the problem of another language and are comfortable with using different vocabularies. Side note: Another challenge to learning another language, coming from my experience of trying to learn Mandarin in China, is that most people that I meet REALLY want to practice their English. If they are confident enough to speak to you, they only want to speak in English. Though sometimes I can get them to practice their English by teaching me Mandarin.

ehorahan's picture

Great post, Robert! Thanks!

Robert S's picture

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

J.R.'s picture

Hello, I am an Chem Engr undergrad and I have always wanted to travel the world. And I think traveling the world and using my education to help people would just be a dream for me. What steps do you recommend I take if I want to put myself in a position where I too can be a "traveling chemical engineer"?

Robert S's picture

I think that you are most of the way there. Many see travel required for a job as a drawback, if you see it as a benefit and opportunity that puts you at a tremendous advantage for the position. Other than that I think that it would be harder to find a career avoiding travel with the way the world is moving. But some good places to start would be multinational companies or companies that serve companies across the world. I think that manufacturing or processing (where you would need to go to a specific facility) would be good areas to look in. There are probably some non-technical skills that you could work on that would prepare you for challenges of work travel. A second (or third) language is always useful. Some are more useful than others, but being familiar with learning and working in a language is a tremendous advantage - even if it isn't the exact one you need. Cultural experience is also vital. If you could find a way to work with people from other cultures or professions to get used to working in other people's mindset. Maybe research or volunteer projects. Developing a flexible workstyle that changes to fit the group you are in is a tremendous skill. You could also build a little travel resume on your own. This could take some money. Maybe starting small or locally and working outward. It might not be a tremendous advantage in a job interview but it would be fun and give you something to talk about. Other than that, I would say that just keeping an open mind and taking any opportunity that you can get would be very useful.

Vivek's picture

Hello Robert, I read through this article multiple times and found it pleasant every single time. I have always been a fan of traveling and chemical engineering, and this article always motivated me towards getting my degree. I have been doing some research about honeywell's UOP and really found it interesting. I was looking into the UOP's CDP (career development program). I am about to graduate college in may of 2014 with a bachelor's in chemical engineering and was wondering if you could help me out in any way to get into the UOP’s CDP program. Or any other tips about landing a job with global travel. Thank you Vivek