This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths". Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring. The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!
I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.
Melissa - Hand Soldering, Zentech Dallas
Stephanie: Have you always done this type of work?
Melissa: I’ve always done this. I started hand soldering in 1988 and this is the 3rd company I’ve worked for. I’ve had long tenures at companies.
Stephanie: Did you go to special schooling for hand soldering, or did you learn on the job?
Melissa: On the job. Though they sent me to IPC training. But from then on, I learned everything on the job.
Stephanie: So, what made you decide to take this route?
It just happened to fall in my lap. I was in college, and I had 2 brothers here in Dallas and one of my older brothers asked me to come and visit and get a summer job. I’m from Mississippi. I came to get a summer job and I never went back. I had friends who worked at a local electronics manufacturing company. They suggested I fill out an application. I’ve been in the industry ever since.
Stephanie: Why do you like your job?
Melissa: You know, I do a lot of re-work here. So, I think when I receive something that is broken, and I get to fix it – it feels like I really accomplished something.
Stephanie: And you have something tangible that you can say, “I fixed this.”
Melissa: Exactly. It goes back to the customer, and it works. That makes me feel good. I like fixing things.
Stephanie: A lot of the younger generation isn’t interested in manufacturing. Do you have an opinion on why or what you would tell them?
Melissa: The thing about it – the younger generation, they have more technology at their fingertips, it’s all just “there”. When I started, it was all new and so I recognized it – oh so this goes in a remote, or a radio.
Stephanie: Maybe they take it for granted because it’s always just been there for them.
Melissa: Yes. But I could see it. For example, this little board goes in a key fob, which I found interesting. We used to make remotes for cable boxes, and they would bring them back in broken. And I would take it apart and fix it. And in today’s society, they look at a remote and it’s not novel, it’s every-day. They have so much more.
Stephanie: It’s in everything they interact with.
Melissa: They have this gaming system but if they want another one, they can just get that one. So much variety. We didn’t have variety like that. If they had to look inside and try and fix it and see what everything was – and how it operates, I think it would be more interesting to them.
Stephanie: If you could tell them why they should choose this career what would you say?
Melissa: I think there’s value in building things and knowing how they work. I think they should try it because everything they own and interact with is electronic. If they really get into it, they could one day invent something that changes the world.
Stephanie: They could be the next Steve Jobs. One day you and I won’t be here to continue the enormous infrastructure that they are used to having. So, we need them.
Melissa: We used to build the LED lights for the stadium. I hope that the younger generation will start to recognize that. “Those lights. I helped build those.” They are using all these electronics. We need younger people to get into the industry and contribute their innovations. They have great ideas to share.
I am always thinking about how I can make something better. And when I do, it feels good, I feel a sense of accomplishment.
Stephanie: Maybe this is too philosophical, but there’s so much in the world you can’t fix – so at least here, for a little part of the day, you can fix something.
Melissa: Yes, exactly.
Stephanie: Thank you Melissa for your insights and for all you do!
If you would like to know more about careers at Zentech, visit our Zentech Careers website.
IPC Educational Foundation - Electronics Career Profiles
Creators Wanted - Find manufacturing jobs, career pathways and training programs
Zentech Manufacturing, an Electronics Manufacturing Service (EMS) small business, is primarily focused on the defense, aerospace, and medical industries, specializing in producing highly complex electronic and electromechanical circuit card assemblies. The company has locations in Baltimore, MD, Richardson, TX, and Bloomington, IL and maintains several key electronics industry certifications. In January 2023, Zentech received the Stan Plzak Corporate Recognition Award from the IPC.