My first impression of the Boeing company was that to be desired of. I was offered the opportunity for employment back in March of 2004. My PEP [Adam's Note: wouldn't you know it... another acronym. Pre-Employment Paperwork] session was “tentatively” scheduled for May 19th and orientation the following day. From March on, I hadn’t heard a thing regarding any forecasted problems that might interfere with my starting date at the Boeing Company. School then culminated at the beginning of May and off to Hawaii I went for a week. When I returned, I headed for Washington to start my new summer job. I checked my email and phone messages religiously for the week I was on vacation, just in case there was something I had forgotten in the application process and would have to take care of. No news is good news right? I drove up to Seattle and arrived on the 17th of May. This was ample time to get acclimated with the land and Renton so I could navigate. On Tuesday the 18th, I had the inclination to call Cheryl Coleman, the woman who offered me the job, just to double check that everything was set in place. The conversation was very disappointing. Cheryl informed me that she was so glad I called, there was some misunderstanding with my background check. It checked out okay, however Cheryl either didn’t make a note of it on my account, or she wasn’t notified. Either way, that meant unpleasant news for me. My start date was moved up, and I was never notified. So in other words I basically drove up to Renton to sit around for a week. Needless to say I was very disappointed in the way this situation was handled. It wasn’t so much the fact that I wasn’t starting work as scheduled, it was the fact that I wasn’t notified when the employment ball had been rolling since March. Mrs. Coleman informed me that she had been doing her job for 14 years, kind of sad if she doesn’t have it figured out by now. She made the same mistake to several other interns as well this year. My opinion at that point of a world renowned company was hitting a low. I thought things couldn’t get much worse, however I was wrong.
I come from a background of actually having to bust my sweet ass to earn my keep. I have fought wildland fires for the last 5 summers before this internship, and before that I used to farm A LOT! When I was top hand (and the only hand) on the farm, I was making $1500 a month, worked 7 days a week, and at minimum 12 hours a day. Firefighting wasn’t much easier, it wasn’t uncommon in the busy season of the summer to accumulate 200+ hours in two weeks. It does feel very good though paying for a semester of tuition in two weeks. When I arrived to my first day of real work, I had breakfast with my level 1 manager, he explained how things worked around here and that basically sounded like blab la bla to me. He then said let me show you your desk. We started walking and headed into the 10-80 building, the cubicle sea. Cubicles as far as the eye can see, columns with numbers on them, people walking around, it was all confusion. All I could think was, please don’t make me work in here, please. “Ok, here it is”, he said. Goddamnit. I don’t want to be stuck at a desk for the duration of the summer, I want to be out in the factory solving problems, I’m a manufacturing engineer, that’s what we do. Or at least that is what I was taught in school. Well now that I was there, what do I do? My mentor was on vacation, didn’t know where to go for information, and I didn’t have anything to work on, even if I did I wouldn’t know how to do anything anyways.
So for two and a half weeks I read WebSPOT training on the internet, trying to learn how the planner works around here, this particular department had a lot of legacy history that was critical to the knowledge of today. So there it was, I was getting a fluorescent lighting tan, staring at a computer screen all day, and I was making more than I had ever made per hour before. Corporate America at its finest. Things have gotten progressively more interesting, gotten involved in some projects that have peaked my interest for about five minutes, but for the most part it is pretty slow. One of the hardest transitions was being inside all the time. That still drives crazy on nice sunny days. We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, until next time…Joe out.
Joe forgot to mention that we can't even SEE a window from where we sit, let alone what it looks like outside. For all those kids at work at Boeing right now... get back to staring at your screen and looking busy! For all the managers reading this: all this was done from home... we didn't spend precious screen-staring hours for this :)