This time I would like to tell you about my visit to Scania on Wednesday last week. The first half of this post is a pretty straight forward description about what I did during the visit and my thoughts about it. In the second half, however, I share a rather personal reflection on my worries being a student who is approaching the end of his studies.
I went to Södertälje to spend some time with my personal Scania mentor but also to meet my boss for the summer job. Making a personal trip to visit my mentor is part of the SSI-program, whereas getting to meet my summer job boss was just a convenient bonus. I must admit that I felt kind of cool and slightly “grown up” when I took the early morning train in Linköping, with no luggage, for a half day visit to Södertälje – just like a business man. 🙂
My mentor greeted me with a big smile by the entrance to Scania’s R & D department and we took the short walk to her building. Her group works with truck cabins and they sit in an open office landscape – as most groups do, I was told. The building was fairly new and the interior was modern and fancy. I guess business is good at Scania because the tightly placed desks were full of papers and all kinds of work related stuff. Still, the people who worked there took the time to greet me and to answer my many questions.
I got to hang out with them during their typical coffee break. I also got to attend their morning meeting where the group members shared their plans for the day and everyone was updated on project statuses. It was a standing, quite informal meeting, and they used white boards and post-it notes to get a good overview.
Me and my mentor then had a nice long talk so we could get to know each other better and afterwards she gave me a tour of the testing facilities. As you can imagine, there are a lot of things on a truck or bus that needs to be tested. Some of it is really cool to watch, especially tests on big parts, e.g. tensile tests on drive shafts. It was impressing to see such a large steel shaft being handled like rubber.
Later at lunch in the main cafeteria we were joined by my boss for the summer. Being a student, I was of course very happy when my mentor offered to buy me lunch. 😉
One of the topics that came up during the lunch was what type of work I will be doing this summer. Of course I am excited about getting to try a real engineering job for the summer with my own desk and all. However, at the same time it feels a bit scary too.
To me, engineering work outside of the academic world is still quite abstract. I therefore feel a bit self-conscious about what I will be able to contribute with. I mean sure, I mostly get good grades on my exams and I try to deliver in my school projects, but pretty soon after the course is finished it feels like the knowledge seeps out the way it came in. After five years of studying, what will I be left with then? That is what makes me anxious.
Thankfully, both my boss and my mentor comforted me by saying that they had felt the same way when they were in school, and that I did not need to worry. They explained how difficult it is to foresee what type of work that will suite you when you are still in school. Or even more important, what type of work you will enjoy doing the most.
My boss then suggested something that comforted me. He said that we can consider my experiences from this upcoming summer job as a starting point in finding what suits me best. That sounded terrific to me. I mean you have to start somewhere, and this is a great start! Well, as you probably understand, the forthcoming of my boss in this matter indeed made me both glad and calm.
After briefly checking out my summer job office, I was soon back on the train which would take me back to my reality in Linköping, i.e. my school life. However, as this Wednesday was Valborgsmässoafton which is a day of festivities, especially for students, I didn’t mind being a student one bit.
Truly, this day had turned out to be such a rewarding combination of both business and pleasure.