This is the summer internship season and I’ve found myself also looking back to my first internships and work experience. When looking back, I find myself being grateful of the guidance and advices I’ve received from my seniors/mentors. I feel like writing this post to list them so I can remember if my memory fails me, while probably sharing this experience with anyone who’s interested.
My first job ever was as an intern at English Language for Executives, a company founded by my late great-aunt, who passed away while I was in Norway. While I was working there, one of the older English teacher gave me a piece of advice. She mentioned how having work experience and the right on-the-job experience would be beneficial in the career. She highlighted how having the right plan and committing to it is important. During this time, students in my cohort was trying to take part in organizing student events and participating student-run organization as a way to build their resume. With this chance encounter, I managed to make a different plan than the others, try to get an assistantship position and build the right skills for the career I’m looking for.
In my second year, I was improving both in my studies and landed a student assistant and later as a laboratory assistant in the Electronics Laboratory. While being a laboratory assistant, I also help out with the Nanodevices research lab with organic light emitting diode (OLED) research. From my courses and assistantship experience, I got my “feet wet” with project work, practical experience in both electronics and nanodevices lab, and improve on my communication skills on-the-job.
In my third year, it’s now time to start looking for an internship at a company, my friend and I contacted our academic advisor and he introduced us to his friend at BPPT, who later became my thesis supervisor and manager. The first meeting was intriguing, there were many things we could explore, we had 8 people working for the thesis at the same time. It was a nice way to experiment, as an electronics engineering student, I was tasked with two different project, one to study pre-amplifier for a hydrophone (microphone used underwater) and one to modify a gas pump power supply for a CO2 measurement installation.
After my internship, I have two choice to either do my bachelor thesis with BPPT or do it with the research group, continuing work with OLED. Eventually, I ended up continuing with the hydrophone project for my bachelor thesis, I played around with Raspberry Pi, Linux, and PCB design. However, I was still helping out in the OLED project, sometimes just to be a second person/operator in the lab, helping out with Atomic Force Microscope measurement or I-V measurement. After finishing my thesis, I ended up working at BPPT, and continued to work there for 4 years.
From my final two years, I was able to capitulate on my strengths, starting to trust my intuition, and improved my presentation skills. There are also countless of advices I received from my manager, who I considered the best mentor since apparently we’re both an INTP according to MBTI test. Learning from his experience was very valuable for me, some of the advices I value the most are:
- Have a good knowledge: nowadays, it doesn’t mean that you have to know everything, this can be done by taking good notes, keeping updated to news, and know where to search for these information.
- Have a good intuition: this comes with more experience, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but keep a log of your mistakes, know what to improve, eventually you will gain this intuition.
- Plan your work well: this also comes with experience, and I still struggle with this. The idea is that engineers are (supposed to be) paid high hourly rates. By planning your work well, you can justify your work, give better estimate to management, and assign help from other engineers/technicians.
- Present your work well: this can come in both flavors, for academic setting, making a good written report and also writing a paper would be ideal, but for industrial setting, this usually means preparing a presentation for the management.
- Be loyal to the people, not the company: this is more of office politics, but I suppose, at the end the company will be pursuing their own best interest. However, the bond we make with other people in our team, we should maintain this good relation.
After 2-3 years working, I was convinced that the career I wanted to pursue is not available in Indonesia, which was even more obvious when the pandemic started. I was quite lucky to be in a governmental research agency, they would still employ me, but it was clear that it was time for me to start my studies. This was also motivated by an encounter I had during my time working and the many discussions with senior researchers who studied abroad. With my manager’s and my academic advisor’s recommendation, I was admitted to study abroad.
Now, I’m making a new shift towards a career as a MEMS engineer, I will take all the learnings I’ve made and hopefully find myself a good mentor in the process. My journey is still starting and I’m looking forward for other chance encounters I may have. All in all, I’m very grateful for all the work experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve worked with. Hopefully, I can still continue to maintain good relations with those who have given me a chance to grow with them.