I am a senior at Antioch College and, for my fourth co-op, I chose to work for Chroma Technology Corp in Bellows Falls, Vermont. My experience with Chroma was very different in many different ways. I was working in a lab as a quality control technician. I had never worked in that kind of setting, but I was willing to learn everything I needed to get the job done. The main challenges for me working in this lab were that I had to learn how the machines functioned and there were many different settings that need to be memorized.
I came up with new ways of doing the job that were easier for me. During my last few weeks at Chroma, I realized that I had actually accomplished my work-related goals. What I really wanted was to work alone and, in my last few weeks, I was doing just that. Accomplishing goals regardless of how big or small they might be gave me a good feeling. During this time, I noticed that some of my co-workers were coming to me for help with their work. This made me believe that they actually trusted my work and wanted me to work with them. I didn’t mind lending them a hand because I was happy that I was able to do what needed to be done.
When I started at Chroma, I had no idea how to do the work or why we were doing what we were doing, although I was able to connect one of my latest courses at Antioch, physics, to Chroma’s work. In class, we learned about wavelength, reflection, and particle disruption on the path of light. While performing quality control inspection on the lenses, those same ideas came up. The difference was that theoretical knowledge does not always help get the job done. Theoretical knowledge tells us how a specific thing behaves under certain conditions whereas practical knowledge is what helps us to do the job right when those things do not act in those ways. Because the lab uses many different machines, the uncertainty is very high and often frustrating to get the result to be acceptable.
Quality control technicians work with each other but also often they have to report to other teams in case the product does not pass the required margins. When my coworkers asked me for help it felt satisfying, as it said to me that I had learned to work without having constant supervision.
Photo credit: https://twitter.com/chromavt