This past Summer, I was fortunate enough to work as a supply chain engineering intern at GE Appliances, centered in Louisville, Kentucky. My specific role involved working as part of the materials team in the refrigeration factory, but my actual role was much more diverse. I was in charge of shipping out product service parts to consumers and other factories, to do this I managed a small team of workers who boxed these parts while dealing with the logistic aspect of shipping goods.
I learned a great deal from this position. This was my first engineering role that did not involve research and development in some way. This was my opportunity to discover what I liked and disliked about the research and development and production roles of engineering. I at first believed that my new role would be entertaining, because there were so many responsibilities that I wouldn’t have any free time. After doing this tasks for several weeks, I found that I while I was busy every day, and the time flew by, many of the tasks felt thoughtless and this was the norm for a while. Every now and then, the factory would be dedicated to product service orders because we were running behind on parts. During these times I was given complete authority on where to place workers, what jobs they would be doing, and the logistics behind shipping goods and where to send them. I found that I wasn’t looking for constant work, but I was searching for independence in work. I discovered that I enjoyed research and development more than production, but I would like independence in how I conduct research, and to do that I need additional coursework so I have the prior knowledge to do this research.
I believe that I grew as a person and a leader as part of this position. My leadership position in the factory gave me a manager position over my workers. I learned how to lead groups of people with confidence as well as how to make competent, impartial decisions given the information that I had in front of me. I believe that one of the most important thing that I learned from this position was how to take no for an answer. While the product service parts were important to the factory, the most important thing was to keep up with production. I had to learn to accept when the factory could not spare product service parts. I had to work around this needs and find a time when the parts I needed were in ready supply.
Interactions and Responsibilities:
During this rotation at GE Appliances, I was lucky enough to work closely with every branch of engineering at the company. I worked with the technology group quite often to help them find parts from the factory. I also worked with the quality engineering at the factory to help me acquire parts worth sending out for product service orders. I also worked with senior design engineers to help them ship fixtures and other products to other factories around the country for testing. This position did a great job introducing me to most of the other possible engineering disciplines that I could go into.
Throughout my time working this summer, I can’t think of a period where I was not treated as an equal to my supervisors and managers. My input was always listened to and valued, and typically when I proposed a change, they were followed through with. Being treated as a reliable member of the team really made me feel more confident in myself and my abilities, and allowed me to lead my own team more capably. It was easier to make decisions knowing that my decisions would be backed up by my managers. Eventually they began to tell me that I knew more about current situations than they did, since I worked in my area everyday. It was reaffirming that they would trust me so implicitly. This experience with the materials team at GE Appliances significantly helped my confidence and leadership skills.
Being on the materials team, I worked closely with suppliers to acquire parts needed to keep the factory running. There were several events, but on day at work we began to run out of a valve that was needed to built refrigerator doors. I was asked to work overtime that day so that I could help the materials team either find more of the valves or work with suppliers to have more sent to the factory. Events like these helped me to gain a better idea of how production is ran and the roles of every individual person on the materials team. I also began to understand the hardships involved with ordering custom made, large production parts from third party companies. I gained an admiration for the people who maintain day to day work like this and how they are able to shed off blame when things go wrong and start working on a solution right away.
These changes helped me to grow as a person and as a professional. As a result of this, I have became much more open to accepting criticism and opposing ideas. I am also more able to evaluate situations from an objective stance and begin working on a solution immediately. The leadership experience that I have gained has helped me to be more active and social situations and I am no longer afraid to take charge in a group activity or event. I believe that the experience that I have gained working with all disciplines of engineering will be vital for whenever I begin looking for a full time job. I believe that working with the materials team has also helped me to become more trusting of others, after seeing the amount of trust that they placed in me. I believe that working in the real world has also helped me gain more of an appreciation for engineering coursework and how the situations that we cover in class can apply to everyday engineering design.