Life as a trainee reflected in 3 words

Life as a trainee reflected in 3 words

A while ago, I read a post at Traineebloggen where a trainee at another company finished their program. He described his experiences and the life as trainee as ’privileged, frustrating and entertaining’. I fully agree and therefore this will be the theme for my entry.

But before that, a quick status report: I’m already halfway into my rotation overseas! I’m very glad to be here this period (especially when my parents and friends send me photos of grey and cold days back home), the downside being that many trainees will be away on their adventures when I’m back. But hey, I’m here and it is rather amazing. This week I’ll go to Singapore to initiate more focus towards an issue we are experiencing. It will be a short trip, but I’ll leave somewhat early from office tomorrow in order to take the opportunity to explore the city tomorrow night. Södertälje seems rather distant at this point actually…

Privileged & entertained (but yet a little bit frustrated)

The transition from the introduction to the first rotation left the majority of us with a feeling of missing something, since the big group we got use to hanging out with was dissolved and we were scattered over many departments. For me, starting at my home department was though not entirely new ground since I had spent a couple of weeks there during the summer. Besides, my colleagues dedicated time to sit down with me individually to present what they do in their position and further on acted as sounding board and information sources when I felt I was stuck in circular reasoning in my project. Without knowing for sure, I assume many of us depend on input from our new surrounding. But, the longer into the program we progress, the more knowledge will be accumulated and the greater the potential for leverage learning also from fellow trainees. A challenge is though that there seldom is a set work description for you as a trainee, resulting in a high degree of flexibility but also a responsibility to drive your own project/-s. Some may enter departments which are used to having trainees, others don’t. Some get to choose freely how they want to design their rotations, others are presented to a set plan. For me, my calendar was sometimes filled with interesting meetings, following the advice to make sure to take the time to talk with people about what they do and what role their department plays in the ecosystem, since ‘this you won’t have time to do once you start your first position’. This of course took focus from my assignment but on the other hand it strengthened my network and increased my knowledge in many fields. I also had an open dialogue with my manager about what could be the setup for my rotations. Having the opportunity to sit down and discuss where you want to go next in the organization is truly a privilege – tricky part is to choose wisely!

Being in the Southeast Asian region, I often remind myself of that I get to acquire firsthand experience of how our strategies are executed in the business units. During the weeks that have past since my last blog post I have for example visited India, taking part in the implementation and first training of a system to be used in supporting the delivery planning. When visiting, the colleagues on site briefed us on the opportunities and challenges they are experiencing and also showed us the production plants. For me, it was the first time in a bus factory, which I am very happy I got to see. Also, I jumped into a truck fresh from line, to partake in the testing of one of the applications we offer in the Indian market. Since photography is prohibited I’ll instead provide you with a pic snapped from outside the Scania facilities in Bangalore and a photo of what a bus can look like here.

What is maybe not trainee specific, but rather a feature of being new in a position (and even in a company), is to struggle with questions like: How to get acquainted with the new settings and introduced to the area while also manage to produce something of high quality – in such a limited period of time? Weeks are flying and I recently described it as ‘a feeling of always being one step behind’. Me, preferring being one step ahead, find this annoying and easy to blame entirely on myself. But I think it is important to remember that this is part of the experience and that I cannot expect to have the same knowledge as my experienced colleagues. Thus, to settle mutual expectations and to have a well-functioning dialogue between the trainee and the manager/responsible is recommended!

One last advantage to pinpoint is that all trainees are paired with a former trainee, whom you can turn to in any matter. For me, this mentorship is both of social character (we’re trying to have weekly lunches) and serves as a source of guidance, inspiration and recommendations. When speaking of that, I recently read a piece of news that made me very content; Scania has introduced a mentor program in their XLR8 Women’s Network. Way to go! In university, I was active in the Mentorship committee working to strengthen the link between students and enterprises. Pairing mentees with qualified mentors bridges the gap that can be experienced between graduating and entering the work life by discussing topics such as study choices, work application preparation and work tasks with someone who has experienced that journey. Moreover, our mission was that the participation in the program would make both mentees and mentors grow – and this journey does of course not end because one enters a position. I believe that stunning results can spring from when you get to know yourself and your driving forces, which a mentor program can support the exploration of.

To wrap up: we are to work for many days to come (for me it should be around 9 000 days), and I hope to continue to feel that work is inspiring and challenging, then I can stand a bit of frustration sometimes!

All the best,
Therese

Here’s a bonus:
first photo – taken in a street art area in Shah Alam in KL
second photo – taken in the jungle at Sumatra
There is some resemblance, right? 🙂

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