I worked in Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory. I loved my job, and it had little to do with Elon Musk.
A Tesla production associate said they loved their job at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.
They said their work was challenging and inspiring, and rarely directly involved Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The factory worker described some of the perks of working on the production line at Tesla.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a Tesla production associate, who left the company late last year. They spoke anonymously to protect their privacy. Their identity and employment have been verified by Insider, and their words have been edited for length and clarity.
Working for Tesla was one of the best jobs that I've ever had.
I've always been the type of person that likes to tinker with things and build things. When I was a kid, my dad would help me take apart hard drives and I always had so much fun with that. Working for Tesla and being able to work on those machines made me want to start pursuing an engineering degree because I realized how much I loved it.
When I started in 2020 as a contractor at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, the main reason I wanted to work there was for the reliable transportation. Tesla had shuttles for the employees and at that time, I was unable to drive myself to the factory. They also had really good benefits and they were able to offer the level of pay I needed at that point in time.
It was my first time working in a factory and I was really nervous about it. During orientation, they made it sound a lot more scary and dangerous than it was, because in the manufacturing industry there's always a level of risk. I was in the battery module department so I was working on the machines that bond the wires to the battery packs.
Working at Tesla isn't all about Elon Musk
I wish people understood that working at Tesla is not like what you see in the news. I feel like a lot of the news that surrounds Tesla is negative due to our CEO. For example, my mom would send me text messages like, "Your boss did this thing again." And I'd say, "First of all he's not my boss. He's just my CEO."
For the most part, we ignored that kind of stuff. We were focused on what the company was built around and less on what our CEO was doing or tweeting. And, at least at the Gigafactory, we didn't see him very much.
I was nervous when I first started working at Tesla because of what I'd heard about Elon, but I never personally experienced any of it. Everyone's read the articles saying he sometimes fires people that are right in front of him. But, I think if you're not doing your job or something bad happens, I can understand how he'd react. That's his baby.
I know he is extremely controversial and has said a lot of things that have made people upset, but for our staff, working at Tesla wasn't really about him. A lot of people that worked in the factory were proud of what they did; they were striving for the goal of creating a better, cleaner environment. They also really enjoyed the work. And almost everyone I worked with wanted to own a Tesla because they loved seeing how they were built and being a part of it.
I remember during one of the SpaceX launches, many employees whose shifts were ending decided to stay an extra couple of minutes to gather around a computer monitor and watch it because we were so inspired by what the company was doing.
The Tesla production line was hard work, but there was a lot of opportunity
I would rack up around 14,000 steps per day and sometimes even more on really busy days. The people that pushed carts with supplies could get 20,000 to 30,000 steps and it could be a really labor intensive job. But, you have to figure out how to make it work for you. I liked to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I worked. My supervisor also gave us flexibility.
He'd say, "If you don't like this, just let me know and we will find an area that suits you better."
I'm an introvert so it was kind of the perfect job for me. I was mainly by myself, dealing with my machinery. If I worked with somebody else, nine times out of 10, we were too busy to talk to each other and if we weren't too busy, most of us had very similar interests. We were all a little bit nerdy.
It wasn't always obvious when production picked up because the line was mostly automated and I worked on keeping the machine up and running. Though, there were definitely some very busy days where we could tell we were under a bit of a production boost. You would notice a lot more pings from leads to your supervisor and they'd be like, "Hey, why is that machine down for like five minutes?"
I made a lot of close friends at Tesla. It's a very social place. We'd take trips to Lake Tahoe and we would have little parties or we would go out drinking. I still keep in contact with a lot of my friends from Tesla.
I had to leave relatively recently due to some family issues. I talked to my supervisor recently and asked, "If I came back, what are my chances of getting back on the team?"
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