“How far BabT, are you set for the Lagos trip” queried Johnson. “Lagos…” I mused, “What is happening in Lagos?” He clarified, “You are one of those shortlisted for a job test with Ariosh”. Ariosh is a Lagos based Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Installation (EPCI) Company that has a yearly tradition of testing and interviewing the top 10 final year undergraduates from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Ilorin, Nigeria; specifically from Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering Departments. It is said that one of the founders is an alumnus of University of Ilorin.
The job test notice was within a short period, the list was pasted on a Thursday and the test scheduled for Saturday. I reached out to one of my course mate who was selected for the test. “Hi Greg, don’t you think we should all set out for Lagos in the same bus?” Greg one of the analytical minds my class boasts of, responded frankly, “BabT, what if there is an accident? I weigh issues from two sides, the positive and the negative” he continued, “let us find our way to Lagos individually”. Still desiring to travel with at least one of my course mates, I approached Clement who confirmed that he sets out for his trips first thing in the morning when the road was less busy, his preference was at variance with my traveling philosophy – all that matters when I travel is safe arrival, the time of arrival is of less importance.
Later that evening, I bought a “my clear bag”, prepared and printed my CV and packed my bag. I looked forward to the Lagos trip and hoped that my Industrial Training experience with International Energy Services Ltd (IESL) will give me an edge. My Industrial Training experience got me hungry for the corporate world. I was counting days to become a graduate. The Ariosh prospect was a welcomed development. Here is what my Industrial Training looked like.
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY SERVICES LTD – IESL (June 2008 – Dec 2008)
On my first day at IESL branch office at Plot 1661 Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, I was dressed in a white T-shirt and blue baggy jean. While waiting at the reception to complete the required formalities, I watched smartly dressed men and women use the exit. My T-shirt, Afro hair and Baggy jean which were ‘acceptable’ norm within the campus stood me out. This development saw me overhaul my wardrobe.
IESL offered me a firsthand work experience. The resumption time was 7am; all employees are expected to be punctual irrespective of their residential location. I lived in Lekki, getting to work early was not a challenge, motorcycles (Okada) were not out of bound at the time.
Before reporting to the Mechanical Department of IESL, I was selected to attend a 2 weeks training on Caesar II Software for pipe stress analysis. The training held at IESL Headquarters at No. 94 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. During the training, I had free breakfast and lunch and was paid training allowance. It came to me as a big deal, being fed and paid to attend training. If this is what being an employee is about, what was I still doing as an undergraduate?
Upon completion of the training, I was assigned a workstation and got on well with the mechanical department team. Being a multidisciplinary engineering company, I had a good experience of the interrelationship between the engineering disciplines – Process, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, and Instrumentation. I learnt to use AutoCAD Software for drafting, how to calculate duct sizes for HVAC installations on a rig and how to interpret engineering drawings.
On a personal note, I began learning Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), it signaled the beginning to my web development background, The Mechanical engineering lead ones mistook me for a ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ protégé given the time I spent on the computer and the undivided attention I committed to it.
I learnt that the company was owned by Dr. Fawibe, an economist who favoured training his staff not minding the possibility of them leaving the company for another one offering higher pay. Read more about my Industrial Training experience on my eduportal – www.knowbaseconsult.com
My second Industrial training experience was with Tower Aluminium, a foremost aluminium products company in Nigeria and West Africa. A family friend introduced me to his friend who gave me a note to the Human Resource Manager. On my visit to the Human Resource Manager, she handed me a plain A4 paper and requested me to write an application letter. I completed the application in no time, her face lightened as she read the application. I could sense she was impressed. Looking away from the application she said, “Are you aware we do not pay allowance to Industrial trainee students?” I hid my disappointment behind a faint smile and replied, “Yes ma”. She continued “You can resume at our Oregun factory next week”.
On my first day at Tower Aluminium Oregun factory, I reported to the Human Resource Manager who introduced me to the Head of Operations. My experience at Tower Aluminium was a contrast to IESL. The factory is a large building with about 5 offices – the head of operations, Human resource Manager, the medical officer, the Quality Control office and Store. The main building was an open space with machines, production lines and factory workers stationed at various points along the production line. There is a mechanical workshop where worn out equipment parts are machined and repaired.
I walked round the factory with my Samsung Camera phone recording and observing the pot and Kettle manufacturing processes. The factory workers were diligent in their work and spoke in hush tone. They mistook my identity as an inspector who was taking note of their performance. It was a huge relief when they found out that I was an Industrial Trainee.
The Mechanical Workshop was integral to the production process, fabrication of machine parts were carried out at the workshop. The head of the Workshop never liked me; a development attributable to the Human Resource Manager oversight of not introducing me to the Mechanical Workshop team. He took the omission as a slight to his office and made me suffer for an offence I did not commit. This cost me valuable experience. He related with me like a foreigner, my attempts to win him over were futile.
His Assistant, Baba Ibeji (Father of Twins) as he was popularly called, liked me. He lectured me on workshop practices and introduced the workshop tools, their names, sizes and functions. He taught me how to use a pipe wrench for threading. During a practical session, I broke a pipe wrench; the incidence marked an end to my practicals at the Mechanical Workshop.
I met and became friends with Abiodun, a fair complexioned, slim and hardworking factory worker, our discussion revealed that he was studying Economics at the University of Lagos and used the monies gotten from the factory to sponsor his education. He worked on the punching machine, used to punch holes on pots at the point where the handles are riveted.
One word that stood out at the factory was SAFETY. I recall reading a notice on the factory wall that outlined compensation for operators who lose their fingers to the Press Machine. Throughout my Industrial Training period, I observed the Press Machine from a distance. No amount was worth my body part. I heard accounts of operators who lost their thumbs to absent-mindedness while operating the press machine.
Having had two contrasting work experience with International Energy Services Ltd and Tower Aluminium, I was eager to join the world of work, my dream was to work with an Engineering firm like International Energy Services Ltd.
I left Ilorin for Lagos around 1pm; coincidentally I traveled in the same bus with Greg. He had an Engineering Math text as companion. He tried to get me to join him in studying, “BabT, what is the velocity of…” I declined with tact, “Abeg leave me joor. I am not in the mood to task my brain for the velocity a plane traveled. Why should an oil serving firm ask such question?” He continued with his studies.
I was ‘entertained’ during the journey by supposedly love birds whose relationship went sour during the trip. At a point, the guy forcefully seized the girl’s phone and flung it out of the Bus. Both of them tore at each other, the driver had to pull over to calm their nerves.
I arrived Ojota, Lagos by 6pm and made for Bode Thomas where I passed the Night….
To be continued in March 2017
Image Credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis
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