Lesson One: Don't assume anything!
My path to college, determined at first my breath by my doting parents, abruptly haulted in my second semester of my junior year at our local public university. Smart enough to realize that I just couldn't see myself grinding away in the traditional college career path, I dropped out in search of my future. Naturally my parents, deflated by my decision ,tried to support me, but not knowing anything about the trades, they were naturally concerned.
For me, knowing that I had an interest in how things are made, how things go together, and how they come apart, I applied for the apprenticeship position at a local machine tool rebuild, repair and product company - Rossi Machinery Services. They were a long time company that had an impressive customer list. Since I had experience in virtually every type of overview class -advertising (intro to advertising), sales (intro to sales) marketing (intro to marketing), math, science and on and on, Mr. Rossi took a chance on me.
I figured that I was bright, competitive, curious and college educated. This trade would be an easy career. Certainly I was looking forward to learning it.
Trades. Easy right?
Not so fast.
Deeming myself the techno nerd, I also brought computer skills, writing and critical thinking skills to this apprenticeship. Rossi Machinery Services would show me the ropes. Six months and I will have a career- that I was sure of!
FIRST DAY/FIRST PROJECT: Find a replacement part. Easy peasy...
-Starting with the machine's manufacturer, I found out quickly that despite my information complete with the part number, no where on this good gosh earth did an exact replacement part exist.
How can that be? Luckily I had several leads from different vendors...maybe here, maybe there but ultimately I determined that this part does not exist. In college I would find the answer in a book or the internet. Certainly Amazon or Walmart had the part---right?
A simple answer for each issue easily solved with research was my college experience. That philosophy quickly went out the door.
Learning that legacy machines can be a challenge, I began to understand that "easy peasy" was a gross over estimation of this trade. Did it scare me away? In a strange way, it drew me in.
Stepping aside for the technicians to troubleshoot this part, I learned that options could still be out there. Here's where the dimensions come in. Looking for a "like part" and manufacturing it to fit, was the final lesson learned today.
I was impressed with the distance Rossi Machinery Services' goes to keep valuable equipment running. The machine's only issue was that this part had failed. I liked that this company will research options until none are left. Somehow this "throw back" customer service thing struck a cord with me.
Today, I learned without a doubt that this career has legs...and arms...and many moving parts.
I am intrigued and motivated to learn more. Six months will only be the tip of the ice burg, but that's okay. Anything of value takes time- in fact it takes about 7 years of learning and working and doing before becoming fully educated.
I am positive that day two and three and beyond will be a definite learning curve, but instead of scaring me away, the complexity of this industry captured my interest, drive and passion.
"Do what your passionate about and make sure it pays well." These were the words that defined my childhood. Check and check in both of those columns.
I found my career learning the trade of machine tool technician.
I am a paid apprentice and life is good. Who knew?
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