In October of '11 I was hired as a production worker at a bicycle manufacturer called Bike Friday. Bike Friday builds exclusively folding bicycles. What makes our product unique is that we are the only company that builds custom folding bicycles. Our niche is serious cyclists who want to travel the world with their bicycle- our bikes pack into an airplane checkable suitcase! What's more, the suit case converts into a trailer, which, frankly, I think is brilliant.
I've been working at Bike Friday for 16 months and i love it. Its an awesome job, i get paid to build bicycles, something i used to pay to do. Spending 40+ hours a week metal working has had a drastic effect on my skills. Its been invaluable to have highly experienced co-workers to learn from and bounce ideas off of. The job is also loaded with amazing perks, the best being open use of the shop- this means all the equipment and all the consumables (gas, rod, paint, etc) are at our disposal. This translates into a lot of talented people building some really awesome, and sometimes wacky, projects in the off hours.
So far i've mostly done Parts Cutting- preparing all of the raw tubing for the welder, and Brazing- hot gluing metal together with brass. I've also done a fair amount of welding, and some powder coating as well (powder coating is a way of painting metal using static electricity).
Oh, another perk i forgot to mention, you get to build yourself one of the company's bicycles, for free. This was an awesome introduction to all the parts of the process, start to finish. And at the end i had a sweet custom bicycle.
Here's something I built recently, not at all human-power related, I show it as a testament to the leap in skill that i've acquired from my job.
(If you're wondering, this is a sculpting stand that i built for a friend who's a ceramicist. The forks stick into the clay figure, at about waist height, allowing the clay to stand upright without the use of a wire armature).
When i do finally get around to building something pedal-powered it's going to be far superior to anything i've built so far.
This is where things get exciting.