Choosing a new career path or education route can be intimidating, but a manufacturing career may just provide the perfect solution! Sarah Wierman shares her inspiring story and helpful insights into joining the manufacturing industry and how being willing to learn and ask questions can open up new and exciting opportunities. Be sure to listen to the episode for a unique look into changing career paths and learning the ropes of manufacturing from a beginner’s perspective.
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Working on obtaining her bachelor’s degree in deaf studies, Sarah tried a job in sign language and teaching but found that she hated it. She decided to take a break from her education and took a job in sales at Raptor Workholding on the recommendation of a friend. Little did she know that she would soon fall in love with the manufacturing industry and find her new passion and calling.
The initial appeal in a sales job was the travel opportunities. Sarah soon discovered that manufacturing was more than producing and delivering products. It was creativity and masterful workmanship created to meet an incredibly wide spectrum of needs - from replacing knees to providing building supplies. Inspired, Sarah took it upon herself to learn as much as she could about the industry and asked questions of everyone she met. “I never stopped talking to people,” she shares. Vendor shows and visiting other shops to sell live tooling afforded her plenty of opportunities to deepen her knowledge of machining.
When Sarah first began her job as a sales rep at Raptor, she didn’t even know what a CNC machine was. After a year of intense learning and diving into the new world of manufacturing, she realized that she wanted to stay in the industry long-term. Her eagerness to learn opened new doors, and she took a job as the regional manager at MD Tooling. “Your lack of experience in the industry doesn’t make you ignorant,” she says. “It makes you eager.” If you find that you truly want to be a part of the manufacturing industry, then you need to be willing to take on the responsibility of learning - and learning well. Listen to the episode to learn more about why Sarah fell in love with machining and why she decided to pursue a manufacturing career.
Even though there are many women in the manufacturing industry, it still isn’t common. Sarah shares her experiences entering into and growing in an industry that is still considered a man’s world. “It is what you make of it,” she says. Even though some of the people she worked with initially found her presence odd, there was never any hostility or opposition. Once her fellow workers discovered that Sarah was willing to learn and put her best foot forward in every job and customer encounter, they embraced her unique perspectives and place within the team.
Sarah shares that while it can be intimidating entering a workforce made up almost entirely of men as a young woman, the important thing to focus on is the experience that you are offering customers and your teammates. View obstacles as challenges and find ways to overcome them. It’s about being collaborative and willing to find the solution and solve the problems that arise. Everyone has something unique to offer, and being confident in one’s perspective - while also acting and speaking in humility - will take you farther than you ever thought possible.
Learning about a new career opportunity can be daunting. Sarah shares some tips for exploring the manufacturing industry as a new career. Mentors can be invaluable in helping you navigate how to get started, who to talk to, and how to put your best foot forward. Investing in relationships should be a key component of your entire career, but especially when starting out. You will always need others to help you and provide a place for you to seek advice. Never stop asking questions and making room for edifying voices in your life.
Social media isn’t just a business marketing tool. It can be a learning tool for exploring new career paths as well! Sarah explains how she began an Instagram page for Raptor Workholding and soon discovered other manufacturing-related pages from which she learned an invaluable amount of insight and skill. Don’t be intimidated by having to learn a new industry. Put yourself out there. Use social media to learn more about the culture and the skills required. Ask questions and make it fun! Manufacturing isn’t just about the products. It’s about the people, meeting the needs of those across the nation and the world, and creating something beautiful out of ordinary hunks of metal.