At Festo, we offer countless opportunities for you to gain valuable practical experience during your studies. Whether you’re interested in becoming a trainee, working with us while putting together your degree thesis or doctorate, or receiving a scholarship, we asked some of our students what practical experience with us really looks like.
Anna Lena Fetzer: Scholarship holder for a master’s degree in automation technology
The focus on electrical engineering and computer science was the deciding factor for Anna Lena Fetzer. She studied electrical engineering and computer science and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. As a master’s degree student, she is currently honing her knowledge of automation technology at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.
It wasn’t long before I realised that this was the one
I first learned about Festo from the Galileo programme on TV. The SmartBird bionics project was presented in one of the reports. I was completely gripped by it. I then came into closer contact with the company at a university fair. It was at that point that I heard about the possibility of a scholarship. When I was making the decision as to whether to do a master’s degree, I submitted my application straight away and got accepted.
A special kind of scholarship
Together with financial support, as a scholarship holder I also get an insight into different areas of the company. I was able to familiarise myself with the process sequences of electronics development on-site during a trial day and thus gained a better understanding of the different stages involved. I also receive special support from my mentor. She’s always there to answer any questions that I might have in relation to my studies.
For instance, my master’s thesis: before you come up with a specific topic, you spend a lot of time thinking and gathering ideas. To help me, she passed on contacts for various people within the research department, among other things. As a result, my ideas became a lot clearer and I now have a topic and a focus on a particular department, with the result being that, from October, I will be working in the embedded-systems research area as a master’s student. I will be concentrating on hardware in the loop, a method of testing and safeguarding systems within Festo’s development department.
Another plus point of the mentoring scheme is that my close contact with my mentor means that I am becoming familiar with the everyday work of the company and experiencing at close hand what leading a development team really looks like. Having started with organisational activities, I now handle all sorts of professional tasks, including arranging events.
Advanced training and support as a scholarship holder
During my time as a scholarship holder, I have found Festo to be a fantastic company. I can hardly wait until the start of October, when I’ll be able to spend more time on-site and get to know my colleagues from the department a bit better.
It’s another two months before I start working on a properly professional basis, but – thanks to my experience so far as a scholarship holder – I can really picture myself staying at Festo. I particularly appreciate the range of individual training opportunities. As a scholarship holder, I have the chance to take part in fairs such as MOTEK in order to enhance my knowledge. One real highlight of the scholarship is the Stay Inspired meetings for all scholarship holders and members of the Stay Inspired network, which provide an opportunity for us to get to know one another, talk about our work and learn about exciting practical developments at Festo.
Kathrin Evers: scholarship holder for a master’s degree in mechatronics
Kathrin Evers has been studying mechatronics at the Technische Universität Dresden since October 2011. She is currently doing a traineeship at the École Supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon, an engineering university in Lyon, France. There, she and her colleagues are working on a service robot which they are preparing for the RoboCup@Home league. She is responsible for the object sensing and overall organisation of all of the technical tasks. Kathrin is hoping to eventually become a research engineer with a focus on automation technology and robotics.
The traineeship as a springboard for a scholarship
‘Unlike most scholarship holders, I first encountered Festo during my traineeship. Just six months ago, I was working in the field of corporate research for future technologies in production systems. As a member of the team, I helped to work on a concept for an energy transparency system. Energy flows and consumption in production were analysed and special energy-saving measures established. My role was to develop a way of representing this that would be comprehensible to all users, from the machine operators to the plant managers. The majority of the project took place at the Scharnhausen Technology Plant. While on-site there, I learned how the organisation ran its extensive production department. I still have fond memories of my time as a trainee. I made contacts very quickly, not least due to Festo’s large student network.
Team spirit among the students is fostered through everything from lunches together to a wide range of recreational activities. That’s what I really like about Festo – the friendly environment and rapport with colleagues. During my traineeship, I kept coming across topics and issues that meant that I had to rely on assistance from other departments, and they were always happy to help me. As such, I learned just how important it is to work with other departments, as this is the only way of ensuring an innovative working atmosphere. The traineeship was fantastic: over the course of it I was able to gain lots of experience that I am still drawing upon today – getting an early taste of practical work is simply indispensable.
I learned about the possibility of a scholarship from my colleagues when I was there on the traineeship. They also provided me with support during the application stage. Finally, I submitted my application via Festo Jobworld. And I was successful: a little while later, I received an email inviting me to visit the assessment centre.
Support is built into the mentoring concept
Like all of the scholarship holders, I have a mentor at Festo. I talk with him on a regular basis. When I was preparing for my thesis, he and my former colleagues from the department in which I did my traineeship helped me to look for a suitable professor. My mentor’s practical experience also came in very useful when I had to make a decision on my thesis topic and the place where I would study. Ahead of the meeting with my professor, I got lots of tips and in-depth coaching. When we talk, it makes no difference whether I’m on-site at Festo or – as at present – at university in France.
At the moment, I’m giving a lot of thought to what I will do after my studies are finished. I can imagine two different scenarios: going straight into a job or pursuing a doctorate. My mentor is providing me with help and advice to help me make this decision, too. The scholarship has provided ideal preparation for my professional career, as I now have a clear picture of what is waiting for me as a future research engineer – and I’m looking forward to it.
Natalja Hartmann: Corporate Quality and Business Processes
Natalja Hartmann first heard about Festo when the company was recommended to her by personal acquaintances. She began working at Festo in March 2015 when she did a traineeship in the Human Resources Performance Management department as a mandatory part of her degree in business administration. She subsequently stayed with the company, becoming a working student in the Corporate Quality and Business Processes department.
‘What I like about Festo is that it’s a family business. As far as I’m concerned, the size of the company is ideal: not too anonymous, but big enough to get to know different areas and tasks.’
The first step: a traineeship
My traineeship opened lots of doors for me, as during this time I gained insights into many different departments and built up a network of contacts at Festo that I can draw upon today. I particularly liked the fact that I had lots of different tasks, and that – after a well structured induction by my team – I was able to carry these out by myself. One of the real highlights was helping to organise the B2Run 2015 corporate run. That was where I learned what it meant to organise a major event, covering every single aspect.’
Becoming a working student: a launch pad for your professional career
As a working student, I also have the chance to collaborate on myriad projects. I am able to work independently, as I have acquainted myself with the work involved and am familiar with the internal processes and structures. As part of my studies, I learn more about various topics such as staff management, labour law and risk management, which has proven very helpful to me in my work at the company. I am also able to benefit from the crossover between theory and practice.
At present, I am assisting with the administration of documentation relating to quality and environmental management. I also help to produce documentation on internal information and data exchange platforms. What I find really motivating about my work is that it allows me to make a specific contribution towards ongoing projects, resulting in a real sense of achievement.
Respectful interaction within teams and the wider company
One thing that I really appreciate about Festo is the respectful way in which employees interact with one another. There’s no need for competitiveness or sharp-elbow tactics – quite the opposite, in fact: every day I witness my colleagues supporting one another to the best of their abilities. This is particularly important for me as a working student, as – if I have any questions or doubts – I can always find someone willing to listen, while regular consultations with my direct contacts mean that I always have the chance to discuss ongoing work in a calm setting. What’s more, my flexible working hours at Festo are particularly practical in that they fit in with my days at university, allowing me to combine both activities.
Mehmet Soysal: Bachelor’s degree, engineering change management
Mehmet Soysal joined Festo in 2015 as a working student. He is studying business administration with a focus on technology, and is studying towards a bachelor’s degree in engineering change management.
‘When looking for a position as a working student, I made a conscious decision to opt for Festo. I come from the local area and have been familiar with the company for a long time. I particularly like its international focus: as a family business, Festo has its roots in Germany, but it is nonetheless a globally active company that offers its employees lots of opportunities for development, including working abroad.’
Being a working student means really getting involved
As a working student, I took part in a complex project as part of the SAP modification process. I was also an integral member of the team that organised international training programmes on engineering change coordination. Alongside providing operational support as an instructor, I helped to produce instruction documents in English and German.
I particularly liked the fact that I could contribute my own ideas, and that many of my suggestions were put into practice. I always got the sense that my work was seen as useful and valued. The interrelationship between the company and my degree course was fantastic; I’m still noticing parallels between the two and benefiting from this overlap. It was great to see how aspects of theory were implemented in practice, producing a concrete solution at the end. While I was a working student, I had lots of free time, which allowed me to divide up my projects and tasks. This flexibility meant that combining work with my studies was completely straightforward.
Since last year I have been part of the Stay Inspired intern retention programme, which has demonstrated the high regard and trust that the company has in me.
The major project: the bachelor thesis
At the moment, my biggest task is to finish my bachelor’s degree thesis, which is entitled ‘Analysis of international, administrative process costs when implementing modifications’. The transition from being a working student to being a degree student is completely seamless.
The biggest advantage is that my time as a working student has made me thoroughly acquainted with the company’s internal processes, so I know my own work setting inside out. Being a working student has also prepared me very well for my future career. If I have questions, I can ask my mentor at Festo at any time, and we get together on a regular basis to discuss my ongoing work. I have also been given advice and tips for my professional career going forward. I really appreciate this personal contact – there is an enormous willingness to help on the part of my colleagues and supervisors. My supervisors and department have also provided a lot of support for me as I pursue my dream of gaining some international work experience with Festo. And now it’s paid off
On the brink of my next step: an international traineeship with Festo US
I’m delighted that, from September 2016, I’ll be tackling an exciting project as a trainee at Festo US. As far as I’m concerned, this kind of experience abroad – coupled with specific practical application – is pure gold, and I’m thrilled at the thought of what’s to come.