Thought Leadership

Manufacturing Careers Require Open Hands and Open Minds

  Jeremy Bout   |     September 15, 2021 |   7 minute read
Edge Factor Manufacturing Day Steam Experience Toolkit helps educators and community leaders host #MFGDay events.

National Manufacturing Day is around the corner and as a manufacturer turned film-maker, I am reflecting on the number of places I have been, people I have met and the great career opportunities uncovered in Edge Factor media. 


My team and I get to take our cameras behind closed doors of companies across North America. Having filmed 1000’s feet above the ground in a helicopter, racing beside speed boats, being thousands of feet underground in mines and everything in between, has allowed me to document these journeys as I learn from the people I meet and the great things they are doing. It always gets me fired up as I listen to the people I am filming with, learning about how they got where they are, their motivation, the catalyst that brought them to the moment where we are standing together and the camera is rolling. 


While I was filming at Ameritech, Mark Rotman shared his knowledge of making plastic molds using leading CNC machines. The technology was really advanced, but it was also amazing to see how Ameritech trains and retains their employees. It was encouraging to see how many employees had done their apprenticeship and then stuck around, investing back into the company. using what they learned to pass it onto the next generation of apprentices. 


If you find yourself asking, how can I launch a rewarding career working with a guy like Mark?  Here are just a few tips I can share with you about the lessons I have learned. 


Launching Successful Manufacturing Careers


Recognize there are many paths to launching a successful career. From the educational path to specific certifications or training, there is also the option to work as an apprentice. As an apprentice, you earn while you learn in a real world career. Most people are not aware of the many options they have to launch rewarding careers.  


Before founding Edge Factor, when I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was hired by my uncle to work at a manufacturing company as the  ‘push here dummy’.  My uncle and I quickly realized that operating this level of technology was not for dummies.  I had to use my mind and my hands to learn and grow with the incredible changes happening in modern manufacturing. 


I started a summer job as a cutter grinder, but it turned into a career for me.  Why does this matter? It’s all part of the bigger picture in helping you discover how manufacturing careers affect your community and the world at large. I had no idea how a summer job of pushing a button on a machine impacted others until I started to do it myself. 


A career pathway starts with asking the right questions. Ask the people around you, parents, uncles, aunts or other relatives and friends to share their career story with you. Ask them where they are now and how they got there? Do they have insights to share with you? 


To start to understand your career options, you have to learn what those options are. You can do so by seeking out opportunities, networking and asking questions of others. Learn from their mistakes and the lessons they learned.  


Reach out to companies in your community, visit their website and send them a message. Ask them how people get hired at their company and what types of people might be a good fit for their team. Most manufacturers would be willing to talk to you about the types of careers at their plant and how they train and help someone launch a career through the training they offer. 


You also need to figure out what you need to learn to get the position you want today, tomorrow and into the future. You do this by surrounding yourself with high quality people who are experiencing success in areas you want to be successful in. 


Ask yourself, how can I learn and imitate what they are doing?  What attitudes do they have? Where did they complete their training? What industry are they working in? 


When I was on set with Letha Cummings, the Second Shift Supervisor for ABB Fortsmith, she shared the soft skills she uses on the job everyday. One thing she said really stood out to me, “The most important thing about being a supervisor is leading with integrity. People are watching everything you do and they’ll follow you and your vision.” 


You also want to be around people who drive you to be and do better. Choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people who make you better, and inspire you to rise up to the challenges that come your way. 


Many times, clarity comes through doing something. Take steps to make your goals a reality. After envisioning and imagining your goals, and writing them down, you need to be open to learning and doing and then repeating  this process. 


There are incredible manufacturing careers out there and manufacturing is a great vehicle to take your ideas and merge them with your hands to bring them to life. Manufacturing can turn your ideas into tangible items you can hold with your hands. 


Filming with Sam McDonald from Deep Trekker, affirmed this example for me. Sam turned her love of underwater exploration into manufacturing underwater drones!  These remotely operated drones are used in various industries from exploring shipwrecks, archeology, fish hunting, and environmental samplings.  


With technology like CADCAM, you can design your ideas with machines and robots. As an inventor, maker, creator and entrepreneur, your ideas will have the power to shape the world and reimagine the future, impact people's lives and push back the edge of what’s possible. 


If you are thinking about how to launch a career or you are looking to make a change in careers, I hope these 5 steps will help you. 


  1. Recognize the many pathways to launch your career

  2. Learn from others by asking about and listening to their career journey

  3. Determine what you need to learn to launch your career by asking good questions to others in a career you aspire to.

  4. Surround yourself with people who make you better by aspiring to try new things and reach hard goals.

  5. Imagine and write down your goals, learn new things, push on until you succeed, Now...stand up,  and repeat this process. 


I am looking forward to coming to your community to tell your story after you start to change the world with your ideas! 


The following industry and education leaders have partnered with Edge Factor to help raise up the next generation of makers: ABB, California Arts, Media & Entertainment, NTMA/ AMPED, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), Mastercam, myBlueprint, National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), SME Education Foundation, and Women in Manufacturing


Looking to be inspired or inspire others in their career exploration journey? Edge Factor has built a FREE kit for you to use. The Rock MFG Day toolkit will help you and  is available for FREE until October 29, 2021.


For Edge Factor Premium members only:

This kit will continue to be available for you all year! Don’t forget, if you are an educator you can assign this content for your Classes and Students to watch the media and answer quizzes. This Toolkit paired with the Industry “Student Directed Activities” are a great way to gain metrics and see your student responses too.


Questions? Feedback? Contact us.

Email: or message us on the Live Chat. We’d love to hear from you.

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