You do not mind getting your hands dirty? Do you love building things? Then working in a manufacturing plant or as a mechanic could be the thing for you. How do you know if you like it or not?
We tried an experiment with our 10-year-old. You can try it by yourself too. Take a project and go through the process to see if you enjoyed it. Please note, doing a project at home with your friends or loved ones is quite different from doing it in a manufacturing plant, but if you really enjoy it then you will make it fun in any environment.
Did my son enjoy it? Too soon to tell. He will need to do this on his own and evaluate if this is something he enjoys. But if you are in high school or first year of college, you could try different projects to see if you enjoyed it. Also remember, to work on a project you need different skillsets. Maybe you could be the Project Manager who creates a plan, buys materials and allocates resources and monitors progress. You need not be the one building things.
I did my production engineering degree and tried to apply my skills on the shop floor of a manufacturing plant. They manufactured keys and locks. This meant a lot of metal work and fabrication.
From my own experience working on the shop floor of a press shop, here are some thoughts.
- The Pros
- Used all I learnt about scheduling, conflict resolutions, assigning the right mechanics to the right machines etc.
- Understood the importance of process optimization. Small changes and being effective provided great results that you could see.
- Understood ISO 9000 certifications in action.
- Learnt about management from my supervisor
- The Cons
- It was LOUD. After a while I felt I could not hear what others were saying ☺
- Shifts – Had to work day and night shifts!
- Lots of Union politics made the role a bit tricky sometimes but had some great mentors.
Very quickly I realized that this was NOT me. I switched to technical sales as my personality was not the best utilized on a shop floor. I also realized that applying linear programming to real life challenges was tougher than I thought. It was easy for my friend who took the role as it was his passion. I could do it but not as effectively as he could.
And sometimes you must try things out till you figure out what you want to do.
After my master’s degree, I went into commercialization and then project management to product management to running my own business.
What was I essentially good at?
- Working with people.
- I could handle different conflicts.
- I could create new ideas and was able to execute them.
- I could handle and adapt easily to different problems and situations.
- I enjoyed selling.
- I enjoyed marketing.
- I enjoyed being a leader and inspiring people.
Now in my current role I get to do all the above.