Snapshots: Generation X
Name: Cheri Christensen
Title: Commercial Pipefitter
Company: Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors
Job description: Supervise and install high purity piping for tool installation in a semiconductor production facility.
Time in the workforce: In this field, 6 years. For this contractor, almost 4 years. At this particular job site, 16 months.
Number of job changes in career: I have been on 31 different projects in the last 6 years.
Time at current job: 16 months at the current project. I plan on staying in this field, and probably with this contractor as long as it continues to have work available. I haven't decided if I will continue with the specialty of high purity piping or go back to the HVAC area of my training.
Company training opportunities: No instructional training is provided except for certification on how to use lifts. The union offers class and instructions on a limited basis after you finish the training program. The best opportunity is working with an experienced journeyman.
Learning preferences: I prefer to watch someone doing the installation or look at a previous project. I also like to read trade information about why and how that particular project works with regard to physics and thermodynamics.
Career progression opportunities: These are based on being at the right place and the right time. It does pay off to be a consistent employee, but as a woman in a white male-dominated field, very rarely does management consider me an asset from a mechanical standpoint. I tend to advance because I communicate on a professional level, and can follow written and verbal procedures, regulations, and instructions. I have excelled in projects where these skills, as well as mechanical aptitude, were necessary.
Name: Catherine Downey
Title: Director of Human Resources
Company: Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op
Job description: Along with a part-time assistant, I do everything associated with the HR function of a small organization (135 employees). I also change the toilet paper and take out the trash on occasion.
Time in the workforce: I have been in the workforce since I was 16, so 19 years. I have been working for the co-op for 13 years.
Number of job changes in career: 3
Time at current job: Just over 6 years; at the co-op for 13 years total. I plan on staying for a long time.
Company training opportunities: I am able to take advantage of external training, but I wouldn't say we have a great systematic approach to training in general.
Learning preferences: My preference is hands-on learning with a manual or handout as an additional tool. That hasn't changed since I started working, although I think perhaps I used to be more of a visual learner.
Career progression opportunities: I have progressed at the company since I began as a cashier in 1994. However, in my current position in upper management, there are few opportunities for advancement. So, I do feel I have to wait for my boss, who is a baby boomer, to retire in order to advance.
Name: Jenny Thompson
Title: Intranet Communications Specialist
Company: RBC Dain Rauscher
Job description: I manage RBC's employee Intranet Site, InfoNET. This means I am the main contact for the 150-plus publishers within the company who post information from their business group(s) onto the site. I train them, troubleshoot for them, edit their pages for consistency within our formatting and style guidelines, and work with them on any redesigns of their area(s). This position is a combination of communications and information technology.
Time in the workforce: 20 years; my first job was when I was 16.
Number of job changes in career: Since graduating from college three years ago, this is my third job using my degree.
Time at current job: 2 months. I'd like to stay for a while: I like the company, and I like my job.
Company training opportunities: Excellent. I plan to use the tuition reimbursement plan and obtain my Master's degree.
Learning preferences: I am a hands-on learner. I need to just jump in and do it— I learn a lot from my mistakes. That hasn't changed since I first started working.
Career progression opportunities: There are numerous routes for progression within my company; that's one of the reasons I plan to stay here.