My time as a trainee has now come to an end, and I have now begun my new position as a production engineer in our new body-in-white workshop in Oskarshamn. To summarize the last 18 months in a blog post might prove difficult, but I’ll give it a try!
When I look back at the structure of the program, I think it was very well planned. 6 weeks of introduction followed by 4 rotations of 3 months each was well balanced. As fun as changing positions every 3 months is, it’s also somewhat strenuous to constantly move to different locations as I have done. From Oskarshamn to Södertälje, back to Oskarshamn and finally to Moscow. Knowing that I’ll stay in one place for the foreseeable future feels good! Looking at my 4 rotations individually, they were also well disposed. At my first rotation, I was given a crash course in production engineering at the cab assembly, where the tempo was very high and the challenges were of a varied nature. At the R&D project office, Scania “shrunk” in my mind as I gained a much more holistic view of Scania as a company, and I also got a much better understanding of the R&D-side of the business. Moving back to the “old” body-in-white workshop where we produce our previous generation of cabs, I already felt somewhat comfortable in the production engineering role, and could work somewhat independently from day one, preparing myself further for my current position. Finally, getting to work in Russia for 3 months was a very interesting experience. Even though the tasks I could do were somewhat limited due to the short time frame and me not speaking Russian, I still felt that I could make an important contribution. The two customer visits I did while in Russia also stand out as clear highlights from my entire time as a trainee at Scania.
When I started the trainee program, I didn’t have a clear view of what to expect, other than knowing that people I had talked to had been very happy with their trainee experiences. I tried not to expect too much, and instead tried to keep an open mind and take things as they came along. Thus, it’s hard to pinpoint certain things that have surprised me during the last 18 months, but one thing that stands out is how easy it has been for me to fit in at the departments I’ve worked at. Starting my traineeship, I had no previous experience of working in production, or any of the other fields I’ve been exploring during these 4 rotations, so I naturally wasn’t sure exactly how well working within production would suit me. For full transparency, I actually applied for a traineeship within purchasing first before being offered production in Oskarshamn. I had some concerns that production might be too technical for me and that me not having studied much production at university would mean that I didn’t have the technical understanding necessary to do the job well. However, I’m very glad that I eventually ended up where I did as I’m enjoying working in production way more than I thought I would. My current job is very cross-functional and I’m expected to play the part of the generalist, where everything from purchasing, project management, technical understanding and most importantly problem solving comes into play. Very fitting for someone who has studied industrial engineering and management with other words. In fact, the reason for me studying engineering in the first place was “team-based problem solving”, which corresponds very well to what I do now. Obviously, having a deeper technical knowledge is of course helpful, and if you are interested in the technological side of production, there is every possibility to explore that path as well.
Having not had any personal experience from the fields of work I was applying for during my last year at university, I was a bit uncertain exactly how I would react to leaving school for work permanently. “Will I have learned the necessary skills to be successful? Will the demands be too challenging? Will my job be stimulating? Will I feel that I can contribute?” However, whatever worry I might have had went away quickly once I started my first trainee rotation. I know I’m not alone in having had these thoughts, so to those of you feeling stressed about soon leaving the safe university environment, the biggest encouragement I can give is that studying at university gives you very good tools for being successful in your professional career. I can only speak for my engineering education of course, but what I have brought with me into my job has less to do with what facts I learned in classes and more to do with what surrounded them and the mindset I needed while studying. In order to complete my education, I needed problem solving skills, the ability to learn new information fast, the ability to work in teams, the ability to take action, to not be afraid of mistakes and many other things. These things, together with a general understanding of the manufacturing business, is what I have brought with me into my job and that is also what has enabled me to achieve results during my trainee rotations, regardless of department.
My final verdict on Scania’s trainee program is that it provides a fantastic start to your career. Not only is it fun, but through the program, my eyes have really opened to the possibilities that exist within the company. I have also gained a large network of people all over Scania, and if I would ever need help with something regarding R&D, purchasing or sales and marketing for example, someone I know is just a phone call away. So those of you in your final years of university, I can highly recommend Scania’s trainee program. In fact, the application for 2017/2018 starts very soon, on the 19th of December (read more here).
Lastly, I want to thank all the people that have made this year and a half special in so many ways. All of my colleagues who patiently have handled my inexperience with grace, my line managers and mentors at my rotations, the trainee program coordinators, the lecturers we’ve had during our introduction and seminar weeks, and most importantly of course, my fellow trainees. Without your support and friendship, this would not have been nearly as fun nor as easy!
So with these words, I say goodbye for now. Writing about my experiences has been a lot of fun, and I hope that you as a reader has gotten something out of it as well. I’m guessing that some of the new trainees will pick up the blogging torch so keep an eye out if you want to read about their experiences as well! Of course, if you have any questions about Scania, the trainee program or anything else that comes to mind, you are more than welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer.
Thank you for reading,