Benoit Robert, a student who earned his Bachelor of Operations and Logistics Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal (ÉTS), completed an internship at Airbus Nantes, in the fall of 2014. Here, he talks about his experience, and offers advice on completing internships abroad.
Airbus Nantes is a village in its own right! The company occupies an area of 90 hectares, and employs 2600 people. This site is specialized in manufacturing centre wing boxes, radomes and air intakes of Airbus aircraft, which are then transported by plane (see image bellow), by ship or by truck to Toulouse, Hamburg or Saint-Nazaire for assembly. It can be said that “all Airbus are born in Nantes”, since the centre wing box (the main part of the fuselage where the wings are attached) is the part that supports the whole aircraft. Airbus Nantes also includes a radome repair shop, where all damaged radomes can be sent, regardless of the company they are from.
Being myself from the Nantes region, I already knew the company, and my sister even worked there. My goal was to do an internship in France in order to ascertain my decision to return to the country at the end of my studies at ÉTS. So I submitted my resume which was studied by various departments of the company. I specified that I was interested in project management related to logistics and communication. I was interviewed via Skype, and by phone from Canada.
A Very Interesting Internship
I was offered the leadership of a new project: the implementation of the internal operations plan. At the heart of this project was the management of relief aid in various crises: environmental, terrorism, pollution, explosions… It was also necessary to establish the management of communications between the different departments of the organization, the inside and outside emergency services, and also the prefecture and other organizations. I was supervised by the head of the Security Department, and reported to the Director of human resources.
Among the deliverables of the project, I designed an emergency flow chart which indicates, in case of an accident, how to circulate information among internal emergency, medical, and prevention services. This flow chart shows the steps to follow for various events: Who calls whom? Do we need to notify external emergency services? Other aspects were also addressed, such as the identification of resources within the company, the management of crisis centres, and the management of environmental risks. A fire drill was also conducted, during which I secretly launched a smoke bomb behind a stack of cardboard. This drill helped us identify logistical problems, and improve the process. We also updated all the electrical plans, water drainage pipes, and liquid circuits used to operate the machines, and heat the buildings. During alert situations, it is necessary to be able to locate the precise area affected without interrupting production elsewhere.
This project would have required an additional two months to complete. Since my internship ended after four months, I was unable to complete it. What was left was the creation of the literature, and communicating the internal operations plan to the various resources of the organization.
Airbus people were impressed by the level of professionalism, and the maturity of ÉTS trainees. Indeed, the training and internships offered help to develop self-confidence, and meet people, which in turn helps promote networking, and facilitates the job search. In addition, operations and logistics engineering offers a wide range of surprising opportunities, including in management fields.
Interested in Internships Abroad?
First, give yourselves at least a year to contact different organizations: it is a long-term process. In France, people are interested! However, you may have to compromise on the compensation you receive. My internship at Airbus only paid about 700 euros per month. Fortunately, I had a scholarship to add to this amount. But, despite this little extra, it is certain that I could have earned more by staying in Quebec. I chose to leave because I considered this internship, as any training abroad for that matter, as an investment for the future.
The Scholarships Offered at ÉTS
The Cooperative Education Department (Service de l’enseignement coopératif) and the BREPP offer scholarships to encourage international mobility, and help trainees to get better pay.
For more information on international coop scholarships and internships (in French only), go to:
Benoit Robert earned his Bachelor of Operations and Logistics Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal, in 2015. He now lives in the Montpellier area and works as a consultant for GPC System.
Program : Operations and Logistics Engineering