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How did you start your career in manufacturing?

I am a middle school student and I took a quiz in class that told me manufacturing would be a good career choice for me. #school #student #graduate-school #high-school-classes #college #manufacturing

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Karla’s Answer

Hi Donovan, interesting that you’re quiz suggested manufacturing. Welcome to the club! I have been working in the food and beverage manufacturing industry for over 2 years now. It wasn’t exactly what I thought I would go into when going to college, but it actually is a rewarding and challenging industry.
If you like fast paced work, problem solving, and don’t want to experience the same old thing every day, I agree with the quiz that manufacturing is for you!

I got a degree in process engineering in college and one summer, I interned with a well-known soda manufacturer. I loved working with a large team of people that worked together to produce as much output as possible to meet customer demand. One thing about manufacturing is that it is part of the supply chain, meaning it is a fairly reliable job depending on the company you’re working with. I was deemed an “essential” worker all throughout the pandemic and was able to carry on with work with little to no change in my way of life. People have called the supply chain, “pandemic proof” – as there will always be customers who require what you are producing.

As far as the job itself, it depends which side of manufacturing you want to get involved in. There is a quality side, which focuses on defects or food safety and there is a machinist side that focuses on the technical details of how to best take care of the machines. If you want to be a supervisor or manager – both require a degree in STEM of some sort.

Another great advantage of being in a reliable manufacturing job is that things are always changing. A push to become more efficient and competitive keeps you and your company always looking for the next big thing to stay on top. This can mean completely automated machines, (think autonomous vehicles), going paperless etc.

It is definitely a fast-paced environment and often times you have to think on your feet to solve problems, also known as “fire-fighting” - but this can be the same in any industry. At my hiring interview, my boss warned me that this type of work is not for the “faint of heart”. He wasn’t lying, so keep that in mind!

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Owen’s Answer

First, try to decide what kind of manufacturing you think you would like to be involved with: i.e. furniture, hi tech, automobiles, etc. If possible try to decide what part of manufacturing you would like to work in: management in the manufacturing process it self or behind the scenes. Maybe you would be happy just working on the assembly line assembling the product; you might want to work in the purchasing department ordering the parts that make up the final product; you might want to work behind the scenes as a bookkeeper; you might want to be in sales, or advertising. Then, through books and articles start reading about that type of manufacturing and if you have a company like that in your area, maybe they would let you work there during the summer, even part time. If there is no company in your area like that then work for any manufacturing company during your summer, even part time, just so you can learn about manufacturing and get some experience.

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Hector’s Answer

Donovan, when I started, I worked for the Federal Government, specifically for specifications and standards. Due to a series of personal events, I had to return to Puerto Rico, back in the 70's, the manufacturing environment was in full swing. So, I started working as a buyer and later moved to work in an electronics factory. Since then, I have not stopped, and I have enjoyed it immensely.