I graduated from the University of Maryland less than a year ago with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. Having had five prior internships, I had been exposed to a variety of work environments in the industry, each with their own take on introductory training programs and corporate structure. After the struggles I faced with each, I naively thought I had figured out what I was looking for in a full-time position. But after eight months at Key Tech, it turns out it can be even better than that.
The Key Tech Way and Why it Works
#KTdiversity Interdisciplinary projects. Collaborative study. Cooperative learning. Universities have come up with all kinds of terms to express the value of working in groups with varied educations and experiences, but this initiative has yet to fully make it’s way over into industry. Where Ye Olde Engineering company may still be operating under a corporate structure that separates it’s ME’s from it’s EE’s from it’s PM’s, Key Tech teams are a cross-section of all disciplines, which gives all engineers (and young engineers especially) a better perspective on what’s going on in a project outside your own cubicle. Cubicles are boring anyways. That’s why Key Tech doesn’t have them.
#KTtransparency Similar to being “in the know” with what’s going on in a project, Key Tech is extremely transparent on a corporate level. And not only do all the employees know the development plan for the company, they are encouraged to voice opinions and play an active part in its growth. As a new graduate, this is completely unheard of. On my first day, I shook hands with each of Key Tech’s four founders. Anywhere else, the closest you might get to your company’s founder would be their office door. Office doors are annoying, too. Key Tech doesn’t have those either.
#KTfaithandtrust There is a longstanding “Key Techism” that describes your first few months on the job as “drinking out of a fire hose.” At another job, your first months would likely be jam-packed with back-to-back trainings. That’s because rather than taking the time to look at your educational background and figure out what you know, companies choose to operate under the safe assumption that you know nothing. At Key Tech, new employees are entrusted with real, impactful work from day 1. If you’ve survived the highly-selective hiring process, you’re cleared to play. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a tough game, but the learning curve is straight up. Key Tech encourages you to bite off more than you can chew, and grow really really fat. (With knowledge?)
#KTfamily Uncontested, the most unique thing about Key Tech is the nurturing environment it provides. Whether it is support on a project, professional advice, a good book recommendation, or a jumpstart for your car, someone’s got you covered. As a young engineer, I suddenly had access to decades of combined professional experience and expertise, that has been invaluable as I’ve learned to design for unfamiliar manufacturing processes and analyze problems with new computer simulation software. And because everyone else has been through the same training “program,” all are more than willing to help.
Like the design process, Key Tech is a truly amorphous and beautiful thing. As a team, we trust in each other, not in a preapproved process from upper management. For new engineers, the entire company shares the responsibility of training and nurturing growth, and I couldn’t feel my development was left in more capable hands.
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