Well, I just finished my seventh week as an Operations Management intern here at Olympic Steel in Siler City, NC. The experience has been interesting, challenging, rewarding, and fun. I started this internship at the end of May, not knowing where this internship would take me, but Brian, the Operations Manager and my mentor, took me under his wing. He has been sharing his knowledge and showing me the skills which are essential to becoming a successful operations manager. Brian discussed how it will be difficult to become an operations manager straight out of college. I would have to start as a foreman and then move to a supervisor position before I would be able to become an operations manager. Other tips I received for getting on the fast track to the position is to be willing to work off-shifts and pursue additional certifications. That is what Brian said worked best for him, and he first became an operations manager at the age of 25. Brian’s advice has been invaluable in helping me map out my career path.
At Olympic Steel, I have been given many opportunities to work on different projects to get a feel of how the production warehouse works as a whole. Brian told me that I need to understand the functions of the warehouse and the employees in order to be a good operations manager. It was absolutely amazing to witness how Brian interacted with the employees on the floor. He knew how to motivate each employee to work harder. It taught me the lesson that not every employee is going to act the same way to a single action. I trained and worked on the floor in each zone to understand the functions, and also got to know the employees better. I’ve built a couple of great relationships with some of them. Many of the procedures in the warehouse are the results of Six Sigma training. Brian has encouraged me, and has shown me different websites I can go to, to get certified as part of Six Sigma. Brian says most production industries use Six Sigma. As a result of this I will be working to get a Six Sigma certification.
I have been given a lot of responsibility over the past 7 weeks. My weekly responsibilities are: Attending and participating in team lead meetings; working with production metrics and how to use them, as well as what they mean; vendor negotiations; cost reduction and attending Six Sigma meetings; completing return on investments (ROI), ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 audits; and employee confrontation and conflict resolution. The ROI I am currently working on is analyzing the delivery method and cost of the gases we use for welding. Should we have the gases piped in, instead of having gas cylinders around the warehouse? For this assignment I have to look at past pricing of gas and cost of gas from different vendors, as well as getting quotes for piping gas in the warehouse. The ISO 9001 audit is the part identification audit, which means I go around the warehouse and mark down which parts are properly identified and which areas aren’t identified well. The results are then emailed to Brian and Corporate. The ISO 14001 audit is the environmental audit. I make sure all the waste like paint and oil are labeled and disposed of properly.
Recently, I was selected to be on a team of six people who will be in charge of implementing the Olympic Steel Production System (OSPS). The team goal is to improve the quality of our items and attempt to eliminate the eight wastes in production. The eight wastes are: unused creativity/capability, defects, excess inventory, overproduction, waiting period, excess motion, excess movement of work-in-process, and over-processing. We have weekly meetings on this and talk about what we observed during the week. Right now we are in the observation phase of the project, where we are looking into the making of radiator guards, and observing the actions the part has to go through to completion. We make notes of each action that takes place, and during the weekly meeting we discuss what we think is being wasted. I am thoroughly enjoying this task so far!
Olympic Steel isn’t just a steel production plant; they also like to give back to the community. The whole month of July, Olympic Steel is donating all money received from various company fundraisers to the Make a Wish Foundation. For our first fundraiser, we made pancakes and sausage for any employees who made a donation, which was well received. Next week, we are holding a company event where employees can play corn hole and try their best at the “Dunk-A-Manager” dunk tank for donations. I am learning so much at Olympic Steel and enjoying every minute of it. I can’t wait for what lies in store for me over the next three weeks!