One Girl, One Factory, MANY Men: Working in Manufacturing & the Supply Chain

Hi guys! Today's post is a bit different from the usual - in the past six weeks there has been a lot of changes for me, moving house, moving job location and experiencing a WHOLE new work environment too and I want to record some of the mad and also mundane things that have been going on! I would never have thought that I'd be spending six months in a factory, wearing a hairnet and ugly safety shoes every day and yet am totally loving it, and hey, maybe there's someone else out there who's in a similar testosterone-filled boat or just a 100% life/work change who can relate to my mumblings.

I work in the food industry and am on an eighteen month graduate scheme in the Supply Chain in which I develop experience and knowledge and undergo training to supposedly 'set me up to be a future manager/director/whateveryouwanttocallit'. Firstly, let's go back a few years - my degree is in German with Linguistics & Phonetics. Ask me two years ago what the Supply Chain was and I would have only thought of paper chains. Ask me if I thought manufacturing sounded up my street and I would have laughed. And yet, through a series of fortunate circumstances (and a gruelling application process, I might add...), here I am, after two placements in cosy, plush head office learning about planning and procurement, up to my ears in dough and walking around a factory floor for 10 hours a day!


I am surrounded by men. In the factory office. In the factory itself. The engineers (a WHOLE other species). I am about to go onto PERMANENT NIGHTS for 3 weeks (totally mad, I'm petrified that I won't sleep at all and become a horrible zombie but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it). In the six weeks so far I have learnt a few things about being a girl in a manufacturing, man-filled environment and they may help you out too if that's why you're reading (if you're reading for a laugh at my hairnet photos, that's also a-ok with me).

Crazy lady. Why have one horrendous hairnet photo when you could have two..!?
  1. Swearing no longer becomes offensive. Not even the C word. If you haven't heard that the production line is f***ing this and the weather's f***ing that by 7.30 in the morning then something's not right.
  2. Days are long. 10 or 11 hours running around on your feet gets tiring, but you won't realise at the time because there's enough going on to keep that adrenalin pumping around your body until you get home and crash anddontgetoutofbedagainallnight.
  3. Your hair can look disgusting and noone will know. Hairnets can be a blessing in disguise.
  4. You can't say a single sentence without someone making an innuendo from it. Roll with it.
  5. There is a moment, when you are accepted by your colleagues. You know this because they feel they can make digs at you and you'll be ok with them. It's a big moment, for both parties.
  6. It SUCKS to not be able to wear any jewellery, scarves, watches, strong perfumes, nice shoes or skirts. Weekends become all the more reason to dress up nicely and be girly.
  7. Be friendly (not friends) with the operators. Be firm, too. (This is something I'm working on - I am naturally very relationship-focused and always want harmony with my colleagues so 'difficult conversations' - the politically correct way of saying giving someone a good talking to - is a work in progress for me...)
  8. If you get opportunities then grab them - this is the only time I'll get to work shifts and nights so I want to give it a go and say I've done it, even if it's hell on earth for a few weeks!
  9. Enjoy it! Relax, you don't know anything everything, you've just started, you're allowed to make the odd mistake. A (food) factory is a fast-moving, disaster-any-minute, exciting environment to work in and no day is boring so forget the fact that you look like a tramp, forget that you've been up since silly o'clock and get stuck in!

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