Life of a millennial in the aerospace manufacturing industry
I just turned 22 last week. I’ve been here for 2 years now, and I’ve been a team lead for the last year and a half. I meet a lot of amazing people here, everyone with a unique and personal story. But, I also meet a lot of close minded people, who are unwilling to accept change. You have the people who have worked here for 20+ years, and they assume that what they know is best. In some cases, this is true, and I’m one to believe that experience trumps education. But you have to be flexible.
People have a problem trusting me, there’s a subconscious thought that because I’m young, I don’t deserve to be where I’m at. Or that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I worked in the industrial oil industry for 2 years prior to working here, and everyone treats you like family. One mistake could cost everyone their lives, and I think the concept there is something this industry could adopt. We used the term “Be your brothers keeper”. -In a workplace with thousands of people, you have to do your part to keep everyone safe, the people around you all have families to go home to, and while you may not think it, their life is just as important as yours; Picking up that one screw on the ground, could literally save a life. If there’s one thing that I carried over from my previous work path, it’s that; Safety is of the upmost importance…You should be going home just as, if not more, healthy than you did coming to work.
With everyone from janitorial to executives and customers around, expectations are high. Everyone needs to be setting the right examples. I think that is being missed, the more I meet people, the more I realize how little a majority of people care. Commonly, people say “We get paid by the hour, who cares”, well, I do. If we waste time, the company can no longer be competitive, and if we lose the market, we lose our jobs too. “The bigger the giant, the harder they fall”.
If you’re considering a position in the aerospace industry as a millennial, consider the following. Prepare to be criticized and chastised. People will disrespect you, just for the heck of it. People will constantly question you. You will be challenged, by your co-workers, by the engineers, by quality, management and anyone else you work around. You will involuntarily see, or be involved in ridiculous disputes over childish things. You will fight for parking, well over 30 minutes before your shift. You will be pushed physically and mentally to do the work you are assigned. You will get in trouble, it will probably be minor, but there is always someone that wants to get you just for the heck of it. An example, today and this is real, we found out that the manager we’ve had for the last 6 months is no longer going to be our manager, he’s getting sent back to the shop floor. He has been without a doubt, the best manager I’ve had, and it’s sad that all good things must come to an end. You will face adversity every day.
You may be asking “Why, why in the world would I want to work somewhere like that?” Let me tell you. You will meet some of the most amazing people, who have the neatest backgrounds, the best stories and the nicest personalities. You will watch what you do, go from a part in warehouse to a PLANE FLYING, FLYING in the air; then think to yourself, “Wow, I helped build that”! You will have opportunities to advance your career. You will have opportunities to go to school for free. You will get to work with engineering, and help with making things more efficient. You will have great benefits and decent pay. You will have the chance to improve your skills, whether it pertains to your job, or something completely different. You will literally be a part of the most innovative industry ever, affect part of the entire world’s economy and impact people’s lives every single day.
I’ve been a part of some amazing things in my short amount of time here. I’ve worked directly with engineering to redesign an entire system. Given insight to our management to have vendor parts changed for easier installation. I’ve trained about 30 different people so far, and I cannot explain how good that feeling is. I’ve had the opportunity to be a temporary manager, which was an awesome experience where I was finally able to put my business education to work. I’m excited for growth here, I’m excited about the direction of the industry, and our company. I’m undeniably ready to step into a management role. Given the chance, I will jump on it instantly!
Being a millennial, people tend to say we, as a stereotype, seem to think we’re entitled. The only thing I’m entitled to, is equal opportunity employment. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and I don’t deserve any of it. I’ve earned it. There is a difference, no one owes me anything and I don’t expect anything. But I do come to work every day, and work hard to earn my paycheck. I respect those around me, and I do my darn best to lead by example. My intent of this essay is to share my experience, and give a different view to the manufacturing world. It’s a great place to work, a great place to grow and it will continue to lead the world of innovation.
*I'm writing this from my phone, so please forgive me if there is a number of errors in grammar and/or spelling*