By Hannah Scholes/For the Auburn Reporter
In honor of Veterans Day, we spoke with Waste Management technician Adam Mitten to find out how his military experience translates to his work in the Auburn community.
Teamwork. Respect. Clear lines of communication and authority.
When Adam Mitten graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, he knew he would become a Marine. He was 19 and not completely sure what to expect. Over the next four years, he discovered what he was looking for.
Boot camp, two tours of duty in Iraq, and driving trucks in a motor company led Adam to find what he valued in work. He wanted to be part of a team that worked together toward a common goal. He wanted respect for himself and to show others that he respected them. He also wanted clear lines of communication, so the team got its job done.
The U.S. Marine Corps provided Adam that experience. And now he gets the same from Waste Management, which is one of the country’s top employers of veterans.
Cpl. Mitten was part of the headquarters unit supporting the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq. He drove trucks and learned how to work on trucks and other equipment out of necessity. That included everything from changing oil and greasing parts to learning how to weld.
He spent four years in the Marines, then four years in California. In 2008, he moved home and settled in Auburn – not far from where he grew up.
When he got a job at with Waste Management in 2011, he was asked, “Do you know how to use a grease gun?” His answer: “Absolutely.” And that was the beginning of Mitten’s career as a part of the tech team that keeps WM operations running smoothly and safely.
His first tech job was at the WM’s Cascade Recycling Center in Woodinville. In 2017, he signed on as a technician at the WM facility in Auburn. It’s a short commute to a rewarding job.
He’s a welder most days, repairing equipment on the Waste Management trucks that collect recycling, compostables and garbage in Auburn.
“We fix things to factory standards. It’s a level of professionalism I like,” he said with pride.
That professionalism in the workplace includes mutual respect and clear lines of decision making, similar to the military.
“If there’s an issue, we work it out,” Mitten said. “This is one of the few places I’ve been where everyone just gets along.”
The military provides opportunities to develop lifelong skills. Mitten puts those skills to work every day at Waste Management and in the community where he was raised and now lives.
Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach coordinator. Help clean up recycling with tools and tips at RecycleOftenRecycleRight.com.