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As part of my graduate studies in Automated Manufacturing Engineering, I was lucky to have several international experiences. Europe had always attracted me and, with a desire to learn a third language and get out of my comfort zone, I went to the Technical University of Munich on an exchange program for the 2015 fall semester. During that semester, in addition to trying out an entirely different education system, I had the opportunity, through a personal acquaintance, to visit the BMW factory. This visit led me to an engineering internship in 2017 at BMW in Munich.
So I returned to Munich from May to October 2017 to work in the Innovation Management Department, which supports the production of BMW electric cars. The tasks of this department are mainly divided into two categories: innovation management and production digitization. My job was in production digitization. With responsibilities in the areas of the Internet of Things and Big Data, my goals were to facilitate plant processes by developing user interfaces and the efficient use of the data collected from different production machines. My six-month internship went by very quickly as I had the opportunity to learn new programming and machine learning concepts using, depending on the project, C#, R, Python and Matlab programming languages.
My internship also had its difficulties and I had to overcome several challenges. Among other things, going to work in another country makes the process more complex than going there to study. Applying for the work visa and organizing the internship, all done remotely, required a lot of patience. To give you an idea of the process, I applied for this internship in August 2016 and finally started working in May 2017. For a foreigner, procedures are always more complex. On the other hand, I was very well received despite the language barrier, especially during meetings often conducted solely in German, I should also point out that the work culture in Germany is different from that in Quebec, requiring an adjustment on my part. These differences were mostly positive—like the higher number of vacation days. I also discovered that Germans make a clear distinction between work and relaxation. Nobody ate in front of a computer, and work was never discussed during coffee breaks and lunchtime.
In the end, the internship was hugely beneficial on a personal and professional level, not only because it allowed me to learn how a large multinational operates, but also to experience the German work culture, forcing me to integrate into a different work environment in a foreign language. So I come back to Quebec with greater confidence in myself and in my abilities to adapt and find solutions to problems. After this experience, I can also say that I gained resourcefulness and independence. If you have the chance to participate in an international experience, do not hesitate. Who knows how far it will take you!