I wanted to take advantage of the placement year offered on my course and exploit the opportunity to link theory and practice
More about Mona
Mona is currently studying MSc Engineering Management with a placement year. Placement details:
- Organisation: Siemens - AG
- Location: Germany
- Job title: Process Development Engineer
- Duration: one year, July 2016-July 2017
Before the placement
Why did you want to do a placement?
I wanted to take advantage of the placement year offered on my course and exploit the opportunity to link theory and practice. I knew I wanted to carry out my placement abroad to experience the international business world and to develop new skill sets. Additionally, I was looking for a new challenge and new experiences.
How did you find the process of securing a placement and what support did you receive?
A work placement is valuable but they don't come easily and you're not guaranteed to get one, like how it would be if I was actively looking for a job after graduation. I applied to more than 100 companies all over Europe, Asia and Middle-East. Some replies where quite encouraging, hence why I got more than 20 interviews including video and call interviews. All my efforts paid off when I received three placement offers from three different international companies in different countries - Egypt, the UK and Germany.
I looked online in Gradcracker, InPlace, PlacementUK and the websites provided by Nottingham Trent University's (NTU) Employability Team. The Employability Team helped me a lot to update my CV and my cover letter to fit the recruiter’s standards, as well as providing supportive career fairs to meet top international recruiters. Additionally, weekly placement seminars were arranged by the School of Science and Technology to advise us on how to secure a placement.
During the placement
What work did you do on your placement and what support did you get within Siemens?
Design is not a linear process; it is constantly evolving in its modification and alteration as the design touches upon multiple disciplines. These disciplines or teams operate in different time zones and speak different language; their focus might be on piping, some on structural aspects and other's focus might be on electrical. Projects take years to be completed because engineering teams may have different working assumptions and different goals. However, the project has only one goal, it needs to be delivered on time, on budget and to the highest standard.
I was a part of a team that were deeply investigating the possibility of the bidirectional dataflow between two engineering tools from 2D to 3D. I really enjoyed working on investigating current engineering process and giving recommendations on how to improve the process with the R&ID department.
My manager Andreas Bihn, and all the colleagues here never failed to give me all the support and the encouragement I needed. My first 2 months was training on the use of the CAD tool and electrical tools; these tools provided me with priceless skills to improve my knowledge. Moreover, I was able to attend more than 20 business meetings and to understand how real business projects work in an international company with different departments.
What support did you receive from NTU?
NTU never failed to provide me with all the support that I needed during my placement. My tutors, namely Eugene Lai, Amjad Fayoumi and Christopher Mccollin, were totally supportive, providing me with all the assistance I needed to investigate and successfully complete my placement tasks. I received a monthly call from the School of Science and Technology to check that I was ok and to ensure that everything is going in the right direction during my placement.
What did you enjoy the most?
Working in Germany has been a highlight and a turning point in my life! Being exposed to a new culture and a new language was quite challenging yet an exciting experience for me. I learnt a lot about German culture and was lucky enough to attend popular German festivals and visit the Rosenmontag and Weihnachten märkets..
Besides my placement and career-wise experience, being in Germany provided me the chance to see all of the country and visit different Europe countries such as Spain, Amsterdam and Czech Republic.
One of the biggest challenges for me was the language - although Siemens, as an international company, do not require me to be able to speak German, I insisted on learning the language. I knew if I learnt German, it would help me to communicate and understand my work colleagues but also in my personal daily interactions with people.
I booked myself onto a German language course for my first 7 months. This was tough as I used to go daily after work and each session lasted for 5 hours. However, I soon discovered that the German language is really interesting or “interessante sprache“ as they would say in German. Looking back on when I first came to Germany, the only word that I knew was “guten morgen” and now my language skills are now at intermediate level in the space of 10 months. I was lucky to have such helpful colleagues who went the extra mile to help me in learning the German language.
On reflection after the placement?
How did your placement relate to the content of your course? Have your studies helped you with your work placement?
The modules I studied helped me throughout my placement, namely the Group Design Project (GDP) module and Business Operations and Reliability Management (BORM) module. The cross-disciplinary GDP provided a challenging and simulated environment in which I got to work as a member of a team. The project encouraged me to develop my business, management and interpersonal skills which I used to enhance my employability. I was able to use my creativity, team building, leadership and decision making skills throughout my placement.
On the BORM module I had to learn how to analysis and investigate causes, problem solve using project management tools such as flowcharts, six sigma management FMEA analysis, etc. All of which I was able to apply within my daily tasks.
Has doing a work placement changed your future career plans in any way?
Doing my work placement was an excellent choice for me and was a great chance for me to deepen my knowledge internationally, give contributions to the business environment and develop my personal and professional skills. My future career plans will be to gain a R&ID job position where I can use what I have learnt during my placement.
Having work experience from Siemens on my CV will be priceless, I have gained so much valuable and irreplaceable knowledge that has added extra miles in my pursuit of my career aspirations.
Would you recommend a work placement to other students?
A placement is such a valuable experience, you will acquire innumerable work skills and personal ones too.
Do you have any advice for anyone undertaking a work placement?
Use every minute in your placement period to get as much skills, experience and knowledge as you can. If you don't, when the placement comes to a close, you will regret that you didn’t take this chance to fully embrace the opportunity. “Always do what you are afraid to do”, this is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I always believe is a life rule.
Overall, what has your experience of study at NTU been like?
It has been a fabulous experience, I have learnt a lot from my tutors, colleagues and the friendly NTU staff. I wish that this experience could last a little longer. I am nearly coming to the end of Master’s programme this October 2017 and will be taking away invaluable memories, career experience and having attained a level of German that will help me prosper.