My Word: A Higher Purpose

When I started thinking about my career, I knew I wanted to make a strong impact on my community and, hopefully, the world. I grew up watching my parents work in roles that served a higher purpose—my mom is a retired teacher who also volunteered her time in community organizations, and my dad worked at Northrop Grumman after serving in the Army.

By 2015, I had decided that I would strive to continue my family’s tradition of serving a higher purpose. I started nursing school, while I worked part-time as a jewelry consultant. Life has a funny way of challenging the plans you make, though. Through my mom’s volunteer work, I found a different path. I joined her volunteer efforts with an organization called Kids Safe Zone, a non-profit after school tutorial program in west St. Augustine, Florida. The sponsors of this program also spread awareness in the community about educational and career opportunities. One day while volunteering, I learned about a scholarship program offered by First Coast Technical College and Northrop Grumman, which featured hands-on educational training for aircraft manufacturing and fabrication.

female examing data

Hearing “Northrop Grumman” piqued my interest, because it sounded like an interesting change of pace for me. Growing up here in St. Augustine Florida, I’ve always known Northrop Grumman to be one of the best places to work in my community because of its career development opportunities and competitive pay and benefits. My Dad would always share great memories from his time with the company with my brothers and me.

I was nervous, because I never considered myself to be mechanically inclined, but I thought the new opportunity would offer me stability and a strong path forward. I convinced myself that if anyone else could do this, so could I. So, I took a chance, applied for the scholarship and was accepted.

It was a great program from the very beginning. The three-month course covered basic riveting, blueprint reading and ethics. The cost of books, safety equipment and class supplies were all covered. I had so much hands-on experience during the three-month program, and I learned a lot about aircraft fabrication. I proudly graduated with honors, and five of the seven scholarship recipients—including me—went on to secure a position at Northrop Grumman.

Our parents have always pushed us to do more and to seize new opportunities. They showed us what it looks like to work hard for a purpose higher than yourself.

Gina, Safety Coordinator
Environmental, Safety, Health and Medical (ESHM)

I started my new journey as an entry level mechanic, building small aircraft sub-assemblies. I worked my way up to major assemblies as a level 2 mechanic. There has been no shortage of mentorship during my time with the company, and I eventually earned a position working as a production planner in the Manufacturing Engineering department. I thought it was prestigious, because production planners are responsible for a wide variety of requests from shop floor mechanics. If mechanics have an issue with parts during the build process, or if there were work order changes needed, I made sure everything was addressed and corrected in a timely manner. Meanwhile, I set my sights on higher education.

I later decided to take advantage of Northrop Grumman’s education program and enroll at the University of Phoenix to earn my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. This choice has enabled me to become a safety coordinator on Northrop Grumman’s Environmental, Safety, Health and Medical (ESHM) team. After graduation, I plan to become an Environmental Health and Safety Engineer. Being able to do my part to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for my colleagues has really given me a personal sense of purpose that I have been seeking.

It has been so fulfilling to work at a company that believes in me as much as I do, and I wanted to share that feeling with my family. I suggested to my brothers that they apply for open positions, and now, two of my three brothers are employed here as mechanics, I feel so proud to have them working here with me.

Our parents have always pushed us to do more and to seize new opportunities. They showed us what it looks like to work hard for a purpose higher than yourself. Working for Northrop Grumman is just that. The work that my brothers and I do empowers us to make an impact, not only on our community, but on the world.

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