Internships & Work

11 Mar

The end of May is getting closer by the day and do you know what this means? I will have to become a decent, working member of society. No more hiding behind the veil of academia; this little blogger will have to get a real job. And it terrifies me!

It’s not as if I never worked in my life. I’ve did part-time jobs since I was 15. For my degree I had to do 26 weeks of internships in various departments and most of them sucked. Some of them were interesting, like the more hands-on work I got to do early in my degree, actually working in a factory. I learned a lot during those 6 weeks but I was also glad when it was over no matter how much I enjoyed welding. It’s just so cool, you put on the mask, concentrate on your work and it’s like the world tunes out. I don’t hear the noise around me anymore and only after I finish I realise how much time has elapsed. I love that feeling and you know, melting metal together. After that I did a 5-week stint in a steel mill. Fascinating but boring when you are not allowed to do anything but look for five weeks while still having to be at work at 6 am every morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Making steel is crazily amazing!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And hot and scary!

After that came the office internships and some of them were good or at least parts of them were. Especially the last 7 week stint in accounting department was awful though. I barely learned anything and was mostly unemployed during the time because the department “only” knew for a couple of months that and when I was coming so they had nothing to do for me or teach me much. Ugh! I hated it, and not only because accounting is boring in my opinion.

The other day I realised why I hated those internships or better when. I don’t like idle time! BOOM! This is the little secret to why I hate working, not knowing what to do next and let’s be honest. When you’re an intern, you are dependent on other people telling you what to do, giving you tasks because you’re only there for a limited period of time. I may have been bored drilling hole after hole in the little metal pieces but at least I was doing something. I dreaded the moment when I got to the bottom of the bucket though and I had to tell my supervisor that I finished yet another task and he had to think of something new for me.

Same goes for me thesis. I dislike the days I know by the time my alarm clock rings that I don’t know what to work on because I’m finished with whatever I was doing last. I like being challenged (this is a revelation to me), having to think about actual, solvable problems; turning them over in my head until I find a solution. I love juggling variables, trying to make sense of whatever the equations tell me. This is precisely why I have struggled with the final courses of my degree so much because after the first 2 years, there started to be much more business classes and they were not full of wonderful math but memorising 300+ power point slides full of nonsense I doubt are actually useful after graduation (not that I can remember any of it anyways).

Don't mind this is in German, it just serves as an example for what I'm bad at doing: Memorising tables of boring 'facts'.

Don’t mind this is in German, it just serves as an example for what I’m bad at doing: Memorising tables of boring ‘facts’ for 320 slides.

As much as I enjoy watching all the TV shows and procrastinating procrastination, it’s also not enough for me. I like having my mind occupied with other things beside my emotional well-being and how much I love a certain actress or whatnot. I don’t like idle time when I know I need to be working.

This is what actually scares me about getting a job. That I will not know what I have to do next, that the little things I learned at uni aren’t enough for a real job because I forgot so much. Just the other day I had to look up how to do a partial derivation on Wikipedia because I wasn’t sure how to do it anymore. I have a couple of small ideas where I want to work that I don’t tell anyone about when they ask me what I want to do after finishing university because I don’t want anyone raining on my parade. I need to keep them to myself until I know it works for me or not. So I actually appear more clueless around friends and family than I truly am. Ha! Never thought that would happen.

I am ready to move on from studying when just 6 months ago I wasn’t. I’m also fairly certain I won’t be doing a PhD. It would be nice, I could stay at uni a bit longer and doing research interests me highly but the thought of dealing with students and supervising their work just doesn’t do it for me. No matter how much I want to prove to myself that I am as good as my uncle with his PhD in Physics. I want and need some change, as terrifying as that is, I need to move on to something else. Something with numbers and variables because it’s the ultimate language I am always able to understand (until it’s rotary current or fluid dynamics :D)

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13 Responses to “Internships & Work”

  1. Cassie March 12, 2013 at 14:31 #

    Whoa, you make steel?! That is crazy cool. I know nothing of your industry, but I have so been there on the need-a-job front (haven’t we all?). Honestly, I feel like college really doesn’t prepare you for the real world in a lot of ways. But somehow, you figure it out anyway. I would always tell myself, “If STUPID PEOPLE can figure out this stuff, so can I.” And suddenly, things become a lot easier.

    • WillieSun March 12, 2013 at 17:20 #

      YES, stupid people manage it so can I, is the thing I always tell myself when I’m struggling. I don’t make steel, at the moment, I make nothing except words on paper, or you know virtual paper as in thesis writing. However I’m studying industrial engineering so mostly what to do with steel and one requirement was an internship in a steel mill to learn how it all begins, how steel is made. It’s impressive and scary, especially for a girl that has always been afraid of fire.

  2. viveka March 11, 2013 at 20:50 #

    Personal I admire anyone that would study future to just broaden their minds and knowledge.
    I never done that, because I’m lazy – but if I want to find out something about something special.. I can spend hours on internet to get what I’m after. I think you are absolutely fantastic and this with getting a work is such messy business … here they want us to work until 70 and young people can’t get any jobs, where is the logic in that.
    Networking is such important thing today when it’s about … getting a job, people who knows people. So you have to make sure you have connections … and that your CV is out to all agencies.

    • WillieSun March 12, 2013 at 17:17 #

      Networking is the most important thing which I am sadly not very good at I guess. But I’m young, still have time to build a network as I’m just staring out in the real world.

      I’m lazy too ;-) which is probably why I won’t try to find a PhD placement and let my uncle be the only doctor smartypants in the family. Right now, I don’t even know if I’ll be an engineer for the rest of my working life.

      It’s similar over here, we have to work until 67 (until they change it again) but the employers want young people with the training and experience of 50 year old’s which doesn’t work.

      • viveka March 13, 2013 at 11:10 #

        It’s terrible with work everywhere … massive problems – so unfair that young people with good education can’t get any jobs because we pensioners what to work longer or have to. I’m so glad I do have to look for a job anymore.
        Even over just 40 you will have problems to get a new job today. Terrible.

        You will find your way … but with engineering in you back pocket you have a wide range of jobs you can go for.
        What kind of engineering??? It took me 5 years to find the place where I felt good in – in the 60’s we got all the jobs we applied to. Jobs were raining over us. I tried many things until I ended up in a kitchen in Denmark … that was it and I never regretted it.

        You will be fine … without smartpants.

        • WillieSun March 13, 2013 at 16:15 #

          I’m studying Industrial Engineering even though I see myself more as a Mechanical Engineer. My thesis is about wind energy because I’ve always been interested in windmills and renewable energy from sun and wind. I’ve also done some work with human factors engineering. I just can’t decide what field I want to be in :-)

          • viveka March 13, 2013 at 16:19 #

            I think you should go for alternative energy … because we are desperate for that … and great future in it.
            We have an energy company that have found out about the oils there is in olive pips and working on that .. and all the pips we through away per year … 3 kilo can supply 2 hot bath and 30 smoothies .. or something like that.

          • WillieSun March 13, 2013 at 16:21 #

            Yes, I will try and go for that. I also have a couple of other leads, will have to see where I’ll end up.

          • viveka March 13, 2013 at 20:32 #

            Keep me posted. *smile .. sure you will enjoy it what ever direction you take.

  3. absentelemental March 11, 2013 at 18:00 #

    After I finished my Master’s degree, I was seriously considering getting my PhD. At the time, I had no ability to enter most PhD programs, as they required me to have 5-7 years of full-time work experience in my field, which I did not have as I’d only been out of high school for 4 years at the time. That said, I learned that in many cases, getting a PhD doesn’t serve a huge purpose in differentiating yourself from others in your field unless you’re going to work in medicine/science/at a university. Sometimes its best to save the money you’d put toward a PhD and put it toward other things.

    • WillieSun March 12, 2013 at 17:13 #

      It’s a little bit different over here. Usually as a PhD student, you work for an institute, normally the one you’re getting your PhD at. You supervise students, have to hold lectures and so on while doing your own research and working on your PhD thesis. But it doesn’t pay well and depending on what institute you work for they are just using you. It’s really a question whether the PhD will later give you an advantage or not, as you said, mostly if you want to continue in academia, stay at the university beyond that. Which is ultimately the reason I think I won’t be doing it. I don’t want to be a prof some day and I want to start making real money, not just the lesser income you get at uni.

      • absentelemental March 12, 2013 at 17:46 #

        Since my PhD field would be in something education related, I’m fairly positive that I would have dealt with a very similar scenario in working for the university during my program. That said, the work requirement must be met before I can even apply to PhD programs in the US. I did explore university programs outside the US (most notably in Australia, Finland, and Canada), however even they had some work-related prerequisites before I applied. I no longer want to continue my career in an academia-based field, so the PhD may no longer be in my future. That said, it may be something I still look complete if I have the funds to do so.

        • WillieSun March 12, 2013 at 17:48 #

          There is no work experience required with my degree I think. I would most likely have to take extra courses since mine is not a full mechanical engineer. Agh, too complicated for me right now. Will try my hand at finding a job and making my life accordingly as I go along.

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