Today was day four of orientation at work and I can definitely say it was unlike any of the other days. We finally got to do something other than sit around and listen to lectures. In the morning (6:30 AM again, I'm getting used to it) we built axes to one of their arial work platforms, their main products. Theses aren't actually going to go to a customer, it was just so we can learn a little bit about how to use the tools and to help us understand the manufacturing processes. It was cool because first all I felt quite manly manufacturing massive steel hydraulic axes and second of all because it was a great learning experience. My group kind of sucked because half the people either don't know how to read directions or have never used a wrench in their lives. But that was part of it, learning how to work in a group setting.
After a few hours of assembling and lunch, we went out to the actual assembly line to shadow people. This was a half interesting/half awkward experience. They just threw me out on one point of the line and introduced me to the workers there. These guys were stereotypical production workers in that they were true men with very minimal education, and a strong country accent. I was very excited because as I mentioned on a previous blog, this was going to be one of my big challenges and I wanted to see how I could react. I asked a lot of questions, many of which they could not understand, and try to take in as much information as possible. But due to shortages in parts in the station I was at, they barely had anything to do. This resulted in them leaving to do other things... So there I was, just chilling on the production line alone. Luckily, the guy in the station next to the one I was at was friendly and took me over. He only had a limited amount he had to do too, so he kind of slacked off. The biggest problem with the company I work for is the shortage of parts. They order pre-assembled parts for multiple different companies and then they assemble them into the products the customers receive. These suppliers laid of hundreds of people when the economy tanked and do not want to hire them back now that things are picking up because they are unsure if it is going to hold. This means there is a lack of labor which results in a shortage of parts at JLG. This is something they just have to deal with, unless I can become the best intern ever and fix this problem.
The lessons of today were important though. The ability to work with people of all different types is integral to success in any environment. You can teach all the math and engineering classes you want, but if you cannot communicate it or be able to work with other people, you will either be stuck behind a desk all day doing CAD drawings or you will be unemployed. I am relatively social for the engineering standard, so I hope that I can set myself apart as both an intern and wherever I work by my ability to communicate and relate to people. Because some of the interns had trouble communicating and working as a group among the other interns, which are of similar ages and backgrounds as them, I cannot imagine how they fared once they got to the floor and were thrown in front of 40 year old men who never got past high school and have been working assembly their whole lives. I guess this is why they are paying us well, because it is certainly not easy. So far I absolutely love it, and am beginning to get really close with the other interns that live by me. Every night at 7 PM we watch wheel of fortune and Jeopardy, and it is always the highlight to my day (unless we play tennis after work which is quite a frequent occurrence too). I am leaving you with this quote of the day because I thought it was good, and I don't feel like searching for a better one,
"Formal education will make you a living. Self education will make you a fortune." - Jim Rohn