October 12, 2022
Recent reports indicate that business is picking up in the gear sector so I hope your firm is thinking about bringing on some summer help. The current term-of-art, at least when college students are involved, is internship, but I still think of these temporary assignments as “summer jobs.” Not many aspiring teachers, lawyers, or actors will ever have the opportunity to perform grunt work and their lives will be much poorer if they “work in their field” all the time. From conversations with industry leaders I know that some of them had no plans to become “gear people” until a temporary assignment exposed them to the satisfaction of making things few “civilians” ever understand. It used to be expected that college kids would work construction or as industrial laborers. As an apprentice I was regaled with stories of even the Falk kids themselves having to help dig ditches and pour concrete. A retired pastor friend spent his summers during seminary cooking for U.S. Forest Service fire crews and he counts it as some of the best training he ever got. We have very few opportunities these days for our “future leaders” to actually get dirty, accomplish something lasting, and mingle with regular working people. It is difficult to believe in stereotypes when you have worked along side people you would never meet on your campus. The days when almost every family gathering included a laborer or tradesman ended many years ago for most college students. How can we expect young people to appreciate our industry and its contributions to society if they never set foot in a shop? I am not advocating charity or “make work” projects. There were reports that the senior Falks threatened discipline for any supervisor who did not extract an honest day’s work from every summer employee. There is always something that needs cleaning, painting, or moving. My son and our shop superintendent’s son emptied a second floor pattern storage area; Derrick was so covered in dirt he had to throw the clothes he wore away after the first week. Colleges and high schools are letting out for the summer. Why not ask your employees if they have some “volunteers” willing to attack your thing-to-do-list? You just might give some kid a life-changing experience.