Monday, May 23, 2011

"The First Day" Monday, May 23rd, 2011

4:45 AM.  My ringtone goes off.  I hit snooze two times.  No more sleeping, it is time to start my first day of work.  Grab my bowl of cereal and hop in the shower.  Put on my freshest "business casual" attire and I'm out the door with my roommate Donnie.  30 minute drive through farms, mountains, and fogg.  Finally make it, we are the first interns there.  I put my nerves aside and get excited for what the day has to offer.  The rest of the interns flood in and we begin.

Today's agenda, Day one of orientation.  OK, so not as exciting as I thought it was going to be but you have to start somewhere.  Hours of talks about safety, company policy, and hazardous waste (I may have snoozed off a little on that one).  This is all part of the procedure though, and I am getting paid so I certainly cannot complain.  Oh, and a free lunch ain't half bad.  One of the coolest parts was getting to tour the grounds of the manufacturing plant.  I am working for JLG, which is a premier producer of construction lifts and military trucks (see picture below).  This place is massive.  It is in McConnellsburg, PA which has a population of 1,000 people, but this plant employs 1,500 people.  Walking around truly got me excited to understand the processes and detail that go into building these machines, which lead the industry in reliability, performance, and customer service.  I am working for a great company that has a tremendous intern program (there are 32 other interns!).

I think I discovered what my biggest challenge will be while at JLG, and what I hope to take away from this experience.  Walking around this facility, you see so many different type of people.  There are the engineers and managers up in the main offices that are your typical white collar workers certainly, but there are quite a large portion more down to earth Americans who are the backbone of both the company and the nation.  There are probably a large percentage of these men and women on the line that never received a high school or certainly not a college degree.  You can tell when we were walking through that they were thinking, "oh, here come the interns.  These kids probably think they are way better than us just because they go to college."  But in reality, and what I learned most from the hours of lecturing by the HR manager, is that these men and women know more than I ever will about what they do and they can sure as hell teach me a thing or two.  They work day in and day out on essentially the same thing, and they perfect their profession.  Without people like these, this company would not be able to function.  My job this summer will be to "lean manufacture," or essentially look at how these products are being produced and try to make them cheaper, safer, and more reliable (but predominately cheaper).  In doing that, I will need to work with the men and women on the line a large amount to see how they do what they do and take input on how to do it better.  I can already tell they will not like to be told what to do by some "college kid" who is making more than they ever will in some summer internship.  But it is my hope that if i treat these men and women with respect, and show them that I am just as much of a hard worker as them, that I may be able to gain their respect and complete my job successfully.  As I have blogged about before, attitude is one of a person's most defining qualities, and it can make or break how successful a person is.  If I can go in with a positive attitude and willing to learn, I believe that I can only get out positive things from the experience. 

This will be a developing story throughout the summer, and I know I will learn plenty more than just this, but it was my biggest impact from Day 1.  This quote by Thomas Edison is completely true and I will try to live by it throughout the summer,

"There is no substitute for hard work."

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