From Colorado to SMA: Frank’s Internship in Germany
This post was originally published in 2012. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
Frank Dischner, a California native, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at the University of Colorado and afterwards came to SMA. He sat down to tell me what brought him here and what he has experienced here so far.
Frank, why are you doing an internship in Germany?
Frank: I’d previously spent a year in Germany as part of an exchange program through my university. I was at the university in Marburg at that time and really liked it. I like the language and had always wanted to come back, which is why, after I finished my bachelor’s degree, I applied for this program through DAAD. The organization recommended various companies, but I was sure I wanted to come to SMA.
What is your impression of SMA?
I’ve been here for three months so far and now understand why SMA is one of the best places to work in both Germany and Europe. The company seems to be very open and I have an amazing amount of freedom here. There is an incredible level of communication between colleagues, my boss and I. My supervisor doesn’t just assign me to meaningless tasks, but lets me take part in projects I find particularly interesting.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I usually arrive around 9:00 a.m., but I’m not held to that as we have flex-time here. Then, as a rule, I pick up working where I left off the day before. At the moment, for example, I’m working on two projects. Because we focus on inverter communications, I work on programming, research, tests and so on.
For lunch, I sometimes go to the cafeteria with colleagues and on Thursdays I meet with the other international interns for lunch. After seven hours of work, I finish for the day. Sometimes I work longer if I’ve just gotten an idea about how to solve something.
What do you find most interesting about the research here?
In my department, Communication & Information Technology, new ideas are always coming together. For example, we’re currently working on maximizing the available energy from PV plants with the help of weather data. It became clear to me that my colleagues are always finding new ways to use the technology, and therefore always thinking in new directions. I think that’s great!
What have been some highlights of your stay?
Something I really appreciate is the fact that my work here is valued. Recently, for example, there were suppliers here who presented new products to us. We tested them and gave feedback on what we thought would be useful changes and even though I am “just” an intern, my opinion was taken seriously by my colleagues which is so motivating! The suppliers then altered the products according to our specifications.
How do you like Germany and would you come back?
I’m not leaving Germany. I like it here so much that I really want to stay. I will be starting my master’s program this October at Uni Kaiserslautern. It is an international program and I’ll have to do part of my studies in Scandinavia. I’m very excited about that part because I have never been to Northern Europe.
Thank you very much for talking to me, and I wish you all the best in your master’s degree!