This post was originally published in 2013. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
Where to start? Well, my very first working day at SMA is probably the most logical choice. On that day, I received a warm and open welcome, which made the whole process of joining the company much easier. In fact, I felt very much a part of a team from the get-go. During my internship, I worked at the Software and Concept Development Department, which is responsible for specifying and implementing new requirements, integrating code-generated rules, conducting software tests, and providing support when programmed software is being commissioned on equipment.
My duties as an intern
One of my main duties as an intern was to further develop one of SMA’s proprietary software tools. The tool in question was a computer application that is used to visualize and control CAN bus frames, mainly during development. It was originally programmed in C# using Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 development environment and WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) as a programming model. As for the actual work, the first step was to collect all relevant requirements, e.g., determining which bugs and errors had to be fixed and finding out which new features had to be implemented. In order to do so, I started off by asking my fellow team members at all kinds of departments for suggestions, which gave me the unexpected opportunity of getting to know many nice and interesting people at the company.
The greatest thing about this duty was the fact that I got the opportunity to virtually go through the entire workflow required for a project. Starting from the initial planning stage, in which the project’s objectives were defined; going through the detailed project planning, implementation, and testing stages; all the way to acceptance testing – I was actively involved every step of the way.
Working as a team
One of the things I had to do as part of my project was to attend project meetings at regular intervals so that I could keep everyone up to date on my progress, as well as on any issues I had encountered and potential solutions to them. After that, my results were discussed and evaluated in a relaxed, informal discussion.
Just as valuable were the frequent coaching meetings with my department manager, where I was able to ask her questions and discuss any issues openly and directly. One of the things I learned during my time at SMA is that the company really values communication – all team members exchange ideas and experiences often in order to be able to detect any problems as early as possible.
Being left high and dry? The concept doesn’t even exist at SMA. Throughout my entire internship, my mentor ALWAYS took the time to answer my questions and help me with his expert knowledge. But it wasn’t only him: Every single SMA team member was always ready to help me and provide me with useful advice. That’s what I call a real team.
The bottom line…
It was an extraordinary experience! ! ! My time at SMA went beyond my expectations. On one hand, I was able to apply some of the theory I’d learned during my studies; on the other, I was also able to gain many new insights and skills. Altogether, I would definitely recommend an internship at SMA to anyone who is interested in performing varied and demanding work in an exceptional work environment.