Experience Counts

Oklahoma Environmental Services team in matching shirts and hats smiling next to equipment and vehicles

This month I thought I’d discuss the topic of experience. In a few short months, I’ll have my decadal workiversary, and during my time here at OES, I like to think I’ve learned quite a bit. Not just by doing things wrong, but also by watching other people do things wrong. That’s just a little joke. I don’t do things wrong. In all seriousness, I have been thinking a bit about the value of experience lately, and for the purposes of this article, I think I’d boil it down to efficiency in the field, workplace safety, and job quality.

When I first started, I remember sampling a specific site with another tech, and it took around 14 hours. Now I’d probably sample that same site in 6 by myself. How? Well, I’m certainly not more athletic than I was 10 years ago, so I’d have to chalk that win up to 10 years of know-how. Worksite efficiency is won or lost through the details. Just knowing well locations easily shaves hours off job times. The more time you’ve spent performing the work, the fewer strokes it takes you to achieve the same quality results. And the only way you achieve those timely results is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall.

In addition to learning what works best, you also learn what to watch out for. The unfortunate fact of the field is that things go wrong out there. Sometimes those things can be dangerous, or if they weren’t this time, they could be the next. Experience is how you make sure there is no next time. The best way of preventing fires is to snuff out embers, and the more time you’ve spent in the field, the better you get at spotting smoke.

I did some quick napkin math just now, and if it takes 10,000 hours to become a master, I’m about a double master. You pour samples for 20,000 hours and you’re going to get pretty great at it. You should see me, I’m like Tom Cruise in “Cocktails.” It’s nuts. Earnestly though, establishing a quality base early in training, then consistent repetition of those standards will undoubtedly lead to exceptional work.

The value of experience is hard to quantify, but it’s worth should not be slept on. Give quality employees first-rate training and in time it will yield efficient, safety conscious, high-caliber field technicians. Experience is an investment, and it pays dividends.