Considered pursuing a career in manufacturing? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to DiversityJobs and is one of many interviews with individuals in the manufacturing profession which among others include a senior vice president of supply chain management and everything in between.
I work in a small factory that manufactures shoe orthotics. I got my start basically because I knew the owner of the factory, so I was really lucky. I had gotten laid off of my job a few days before, and I needed a job. That was almost 25 years ago. I like the job, but more importantly, I like the people I work with; I suppose that is why I have stayed.
I really didn’t need anything but on-the-job training. My employer wanted to make sure that I had graduated from high school at the time and that I had good reading and writing skills. He also wanted to make sure that I could follow directions.
I’ve seen a lot of people come and go over the years. A job in manufacturing is not for everyone I guess. Some people do not like the monotony of it, and I can understand that in a way. I work the imprinting machine, although I have been trained on all the other machines in the factory. My job is to imprint the company logo on the orthotics before they are done on the assembly line. Because I have been at the factory so long and because I have been trained on the other machines, I may also help to train new employees or do quality control. If someone is running behind on their job, I can step in to help them, too.
I really do like my job. I like to come to work because I know as a team we can accomplish just about anything. I like working with the team and doing my job. I like the satisfaction I get knowing together, we make quality products for people who really need them. It also makes me happy to know I might be able to help out someone who really is struggling or is having trouble. It is important, too, to help out the slower workers because any sort of hold up can cause problems on the line. If someone is struggling, it pays to help out because we work until the job is done. If we are not finished with an order at 3:00 PM when it is quitting time, we do not get to go home until the job is done. This bothers a lot of the younger guys, but I know if we all work together and help each other out, we can usually finish by 3:00 PM.
I don’t really get a lot of time off as compared to people in other fields. When I talk with my friends who have jobs in other fields, they tell me that they get about a month of vacation or so. I get a few weeks. It really doesn’t bother me, though – I’m not really in this field because I wanted a lot of vacation time. We work until the job is done at the factory and we also work on a Saturday if we need to get an order out. My friends think this is crazy, but it is the way it is. My father also used to work five and a half days a week when I grew up, so I guess I’m used to that sort of a work schedule. Usually, if we have to work on a Saturday, we only have to work a half day.
It can be difficult at times to work so many hours, but I do make a good salary. This also means my wife has been able to stay home with the kids. Even if I have to work late or work on the weekend, she can take care of things at home. Then again, when I get off of work, my time is my own. I know some of my friends with professional jobs technically don’t have to work on the weekends, but they are answering business calls and e-mails during the weekend and in the evenings. In my book, that is still work, even if you are at home. If you ask them how many hours a week they work, they would probably say 40. But if you add up the e-mails and phone calls, I bet they are working about six days a week. So, it all evens out, I guess.
Because I work for a small company, I don’t get the best benefit package. However, there are other benefits for working for this company. We can carpool because we all live close. We also can cover for one another and help each other out. So, if I need to be somewhere for an appointment or something, I can usually get one of the guys to cover my station for me until I get back.
If a friend of mine was interested in this job, I’d ask them the things that they like to do. If you just like to sit in front of a computer or talk on the phone, this is not the job for you. If you like to work with your hands and like the satisfaction of putting out a quality product, then a job in manufacturing is definitely for you.
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Assembly line worker image from Shutterstock