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What advice would you give to someone who is considering a job in manufacturing?

My name is Nick, I am eighteen, and I am looking into manufacturing jobs. #advice #manufacturing

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Riley’s Answer

I think manufacturing is a very broad term. I would suggest to try to get a better sense of what positions in a manufacturing space you would be most successful at. I applaud you for asking the question so early in your career as it means that you are a goal-oriented person and I have no doubt you will have the motivation to put extra effort in to figure your future. That being said, there are many ways to find out more about manufacturing. First off, I would recommend joining any clubs that are on your campus. Most, if not all, will offer plant tours so you can get a better sense of what a day in the plant looks like. Furthermore, if you have any relatives/friends/friends of friends, absolutely reach out to them and see what they can do to help you. From my experience, people are more than willing to take the time to show you what they do if you show interest. Finally, reach out to manufacturing professors at your university. They will be well connected and should be very capable to get your foot in the door for internships and full time positions. Use this advice throughout your career as well. Its one thing to build a network, its another thing to use it.

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Hassan’s Answer

Hey Nick

I don't know much about manufacturing except labor is often the highest variable cost. Hence all the talk you hear about manufacturing going to countries with low labor costs. https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-manufacturing-what-it-is-statistics-and-outlook-3305575

I'd research what manufacturing industries are growing in the US and how to get a job and advance in those. I would think that automation and robotics are vital and hence skills in those areas will likely be more employable. https://www.nam.org/state-manufacturing-data/2019-united-states-manufacturing-facts/ gives you some info on what those industries are.

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Stephen’s Answer

I worked in manufacturing making products all my life. I found that making a quality part for a customer provided a tangible satisfaction to the work. From my experience, working in manufacturing gave me a chance to do many different jobs over my career. In some case I worked to make a change in jobs in other cases the manufacturing company needed to make changes and I needed to learn new things.
Look around at the things that you use every day, they were made by someone. Are these things complex, are they assembled from several component parts maybe they use several materials. How many steps did it take to make it? Was it built using a single machine or tool? What company made it? Where is the manufacturing facility located? (Hint; you should look label or marking that identifies the county of origin it may just say made in and the country)
What products are made where you live? Have you asked if you could see how they manufacture their product? What kinds of machines or tools do they use? What is the product made of? Where do they get the raw materials or components that go into their product? What customer would buy this product? Is that customer local or do they have to package and ship the product to other locations?
What kind of manufacturing job interest you at this point? Is there someone you know that already had this job? What kinds of things did this person do to get the job? Was it their first job or did they have previous jobs in manufacturing?
My advice is simple, doing what is required to get a job that you enjoy is worth the effort. Always keep your eyes open to change and new opportunities. This applies to your first job or the next one. Meet new people, ask questions and remember to listen to their answers.

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Chris’s Answer

There are about a million different things that could qualify as a job in manufacturing... ;) So the great thing about manufacturing is you can learn a lot of different skills if you're willing. I spend almost 20 yrs and did many different jobs. If you work hard and volunteer when given the opportunity you can learn lots of great skills that can both broaden your experience and prepare you for future tasks.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

Best first step is to give it a try. Don't be afraid to start at a low place on the ladder - do good, work hard and you'll be noticed.
When there is a new product, line, machine, etc. volunteer to learn it. You both show your willingness and learn a new skill.
Identify specific courses or degree work that can benefit your career - if your employer offers education assistance take it!