Olivia Katherine “Libbi” Grigg joined NJMEP as part of our Experience Manufacturing Program (EMP). Not only is Libbi a participant in the program, she is helping to solidify EMP by increasing student and employer participation.
Libbi recently graduated from Villa Walsh Academy and is entering Elon University this fall. She has extensive Scouting Leadership experience and has worked as a camp counselor, server, and teaching assistant. Libbi is very interested in theater and has been involved in school and community productions. Her assistance with growing the Experience Manufacturing Program has been invaluable. She has been a real asset to the team.
Libbi and I recently spoke……
MP. What did you expect from your NJMEP apprenticeship?
LG. Based on what I understood at the NJMEP open house, I was eager to connect needy students with NJ’s manufacturing sector job opportunities and learn about business. I thought I’d be working in what I perceived to be a government setting; stiff, super formal, uptight. I’d be expected to present five different, detailed, call scripts to students, colleges, and companies to increase EMP participation; mindless engagement, cold calling and regurgitating telephone scripts. I’d feel stranded.
The NJMEP employees wore formal attire at the open house. This reinforced my perceptions. I thought I’d be accountable for massive call volume and be treated like a kid; not disrespected, but coddled and micro managed with little autonomy, training, or support. I thought people appeared too nice, maybe a show, during my introduction to the NJMEP office.
MP. What have you experienced?
LG. “I am given incredible flexibility and autonomy, and a reliable support structure. Even the CEO, John Kennedy, sees me at his earliest convenience. The Account Managers are very responsive and respectful. Even the colleges I call take me seriously. On day one there was a shout out sent to all NJMEP employees encouraging them to embrace me. I knew then it would be a more interdependent and inviting experience than anticipated. I received expected roles and responsibilities and am overseen by Matt Paknis, but it is much more flexible than I thought.
MP. Please describe your apprenticeship responsibilities.
LG. I do match.com for NJMEP and EMP. I try to find the right match between interested students (potential employees) and participating manufacturing firms.
It’s a lot of responsibility to run a program, especially other apprenticeships. These can lead to careers and this is serious! Finding someone who relates to, and understands, student applicants’ needs is critical. NJMEP associates are very involved with their clients and they have an uncanny ability to relate to client needs.
This combination of knowledge and experience bridges the gap between manufacturers who need employees and students who need jobs.
MP. What have you learned?
LG. On my first day, I sounded like a telemarketer. People hung up on me. I learned people enjoy talking with a person rather than hearing a script.
Highlights include a student who personally thanked me for giving him the opportunity to apply to multiple paid apprenticeships for no cost. On a surprising note, a school’s career placement advisor insisted no well paying manufacturing sector apprenticeships are welcomed at the respective institution.
After being pleasantly surprised by NJMEP’s real office culture, I embraced this apprenticeship’s combination of freedom and responsibility and have learned both manufacturing employers and potential employees respond favorably to the same thing: respect.
If you have any questions, or would like to participate in the Experience Manufacturing Program, please contact Libbi Grigg or Matt Paknis at NJMEP at 973-998-9801.