Are you curious about what vocational training or a work experience placement at Festo might be like? And what it might lead to with us? We have a home for your curiosity. We’ve asked current and former trainees and apprentices about their experiences with us. This should help you get a better picture of how your future at Festo might look.
Sabrina Baumann: A multifaceted work experience placement as a cutting machine operator
When she was in year 10 at secondary school, Sabrina Baumann did a week-long work experience placement as a cutting machine operator at Festo. Today she is still pleased that she took this opportunity back then.
Preparing for a choice of career
When it came time to do some initial work experience in a company in the run-up to taking her final school-leaving exams, one of Sabrina’s acquaintances told her about Festo. To give her a better idea of her choice of occupation, Sabrina applied for a placement. Her decision paid off: ‘From the very first day, I liked the company, the employees and the way in which they treated once another with respect. Any worries that I might have had were immediately dispelled.’
During her induction, the traineeship team familiarised Sabrina with the company. This was followed by a practical introduction involving polishing, engraving and drilling metal plates. ‘It was great fun to watch the trainers at first and then be able to have a go at the work myself.’ The placement aimed to provide an ideal combination of theory and practice.
From school work experience placement to vocational training
‘The placement helped me to reach a decision about my future. Beforehand, I wasn’t sure whether I would be more suited to working in an office or doing something more manual.’ Commitment, effort and determination paid off: Sabrina got a traineeship place in the field of mechanics. ‘It couldn’t have gone any better.’
Simon Sailer: First school work experience, then vocational training
When he was in year 10 at secondary school, Simon Sailer did a work experience placement at Festo’s location in Esslingen-Berkheim. This turned out to be a fantastic decision, as became evident during the traineeship itself.
Even before he started his placement at Festo, Simon wanted to become a mechatronics technician. However, in order to make sure that he wasn’t rushing into things and to get a bit of experience in this area first, Simon – who was still at school at the time – decided to do a voluntary work experience placement in the holidays. ‘Every day was different. I was able to experience lots of different areas of work,’ he says. His tasks included assembling magazines using machinery and binding them pneumatically and electronically. ‘During my time there, I learned a lot about mechatronics as a career. It was just as well that I was able to make the most of my holidays and could really make my placement work for me.’
He also gained an insight into the working atmosphere at the company. ‘Not only did I gain practical experience, but I learned to appreciate the special atmosphere of cooperation among my colleagues. The other employees were all very friendly and supportive. No question was too much, and nothing was ever too much trouble.’
His efforts paid off: since 2013, Simon has been training to become a mechatronics technician at the Berkheim location. ‘At the time, I was hugely excited about being accepted there. Festo is a fantastic employer and offers its employees a wealth of opportunities for advanced training and development. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do a degree once I’ve finished my vocational training.’
Denise Bertelmann: Vocational technical training instead of studying
Denise Bertelmann began her training as a mechanic at Festo in September 2012. Denise had originally opted for a non-technical career path.
Boiler suit trumps business suit
In the production building, it was all about steel – a completely new world for a young woman who had started out studying German and English. But she was never satisfied with her choice of degree course: ‘Back then, it never entered my head to do a technical career. That said, I knew from the very outset that a degree wasn’t the right thing for me.’ It took her a semester to drum up the courage to change vocational direction.
Practical experience in a holiday job
Her new start was far from a knee-jerk reaction: after her school-leaving examinations and during the university holidays, Denise worked in the production area at Festo in order to earn a bit of spending money. In doing so, she became familiar with manual work. ‘I learned so much over this time and was able to draw upon this knowledge during my traineeship itself.’
Since then, Denise has successfully completed her training and is now working in the MPA valve assembly area. She is still delighted at the family atmosphere among employees at the company. ‘My colleagues are friendly and ready to help if things ever get jammed.’ The practical vocational and advanced training opportunities were another factor in her decision. She is not remotely bothered at sharing her field of work with mostly male colleagues: ‘Like any other employee, I have to prove and demonstrate what I can do through my work every day.’
The first of many steps
When Denise took her first step in a technical direction, she realised that it’s never too late to start afresh.
‘Some people initially had doubts about my decision and didn’t believe in me. But that only spurred me on, and I finished my training very successfully.’ As such, she sets a good example to other undecided young women, showing that if you have enough motivation and enthusiasm, you can achieve a lot. She stresses: ‘You should never let yourself be talked into believing that technology isn’t for women.’
Ina Ecklreiter: Excited about her vocational technical training as a mechatronics technician
Ina Ecklreiter has completed her training as a mechatronics technician at Festo. Although most of her colleagues in this technical area are men, she has never felt herself to be at a disadvantage. On the contrary: she has never once regretted her decision.
As enthusiastic about technology as ever
Ina has always known what she wanted. Back in secondary school, she was the only girl in her technology lessons, but she was the one who could show all of the boys how a rocker switch worked. Her knowledge always met with a positive response. ‘It’s not about whether you’re a man or a woman. The only thing that matters is whether you share a love of technology.’
She heard about Festo from some of her acquaintances. ‘I was so keen on Festo that I couldn’t wait to get a taste of it.’ She decided to do a traineeship to give her an introduction to the company. ‘Technology, research and development utterly fascinated me, so I was quite certain that I wanted to take the first steps towards my career here. I was particularly keen on pneumatics.’ Since then, Ina has sat her final examination to become a mechatronics technician. Her passion for technology continues unabated, including in her current job in operations management and on-site service.
Getting experience abroad
One particularly valuable experience was a month-long stay in Budapest. ‘Being able to immerse myself in the working practices of people from another country and learning from my foreign colleagues was a brilliant experience.’ Technology brings people together, and this applies all over the world.
‘In this job, having an employer that supports young people in their education and further development is a massive advantage. Festo offers fantastic vocational training opportunities.’ From 3D construction design to assembly and research, this mechatronics technician has been able to experience all of the different areas of the company. She was most intrigued by construction for trade fairs. As part of her vocational training, she built control cabinets that can operate whole machines.
A careful choice of employer
When Ina thinks back to her first day as a trainee, she has to smile: ‘Everything was completely new. I’d come straight from school, and all I had to rely on was what I’d learned in technology lessons.’ But what started out as the biggest challenge of her life soon turned out to be a fulfilling challenge. As such, Ina has some advice for girls who are keen on technology: ‘If you see this as your passion, then pursue your goal and try to get an early insight into this field by doing a traineeship. Look for an employer who matches your requirements exactly and who, most importantly, provides you with opportunities for further development.’
Ruben Maier: Three months in Jakarta during a integrated degree programme
During his integrated degree programme in industrial engineering at the DHBW in Stuttgart, Ruben Maier spent three months working at our national Festo company in Jakarta, Indonesia. While there, he overcame a number of professional, personal and cultural challenges, and is still reaping the benefits today.
Working independently on your own project
While there, he worked independently, focusing on a particular project. He was tasked with drawing up a cost comparison between manual and automated water treatment plants. As part of the process, he contacted various companies in order to get them to participate in the project and conducted surveys with them. Many of the Indonesian companies were initially somewhat sceptical towards this young German employee. ‘But the jigsaw pieces eventually fell into place – if you experience difficulties, you can’t simply give up.’
More than just work experience
‘I have fond memories of the work, the lifestyle and, above all, the people, who were always ready to help. The only thing that often unnerved me was the traffic. I never knew whether I’d be able to make an appointment on time.’ His stay abroad was also useful for improving his English skills, as Ruben had to communicate solely in English at appointments and meetings. His advice to others: ‘If you get this opportunity, seize it with both hands. I’d jump at the chance to do it again.’
Caren Widmann: A successful career in a typically male-dominated field
Caren Widmann is an industrial engineer at Festo and works in the Food and Beverages Americas department as the main point of contact for major customers from the food industry. One might be tempted to think that she must have encountered various obstacles as a woman in an area that is largely dominated by men. However, Caren tells it quite differently – those sorts of clichés do not form part of her experience.
Early practice makes perfect
Caren started laying the foundations for her career very early on. At the age of 12, she was tinkering with a caravan under the guidance of her father and was very keen on technology, while other girls of her age were interested in completely different things. The fact that she had a tech-savvy brother and opted to do physics at her selective secondary school also contributed towards her decision to pursue a technology-based career. ‘Technology has always been present in my life.’
Later, she chose an integrated degree programme due to its combination of theory and practice. At the beginning of the course, she needed to find a suitable partner company where she could experience theory being put into practice.
‘I soon decided on Festo. The company has a long history of success and is very forward-looking.’ The fact that her employer was always welcoming towards her own ideas and offered the chance for her to set things in motion herself was also an important factor.
Motivation is crucial
Caren Widmann has been a permanent employee at Festo for a long time now, but she has never lost her passion for technology. Her multifaceted and varied work has undoubtedly added to her ongoing enthusiasm. As part of her everyday work, the engineer provides customers with help and advice, looks after customer relationships and visits plants all over the world. She supports projects and sets out strategies for companies.
‘I’ve recently been on business trips to Greece and Mexico, where I provided training. Every so often I’m also sent to France, Italy and the UK. Being on-site with customers gives me an insight into a wide range of different production processes. Recently, I saw how ice is produced. Here today, there tomorrow – it’s never dull,’ enthuses Caren.
She isn’t the least bit bothered at having chosen a job in a male-dominated field. On the contrary: ‘I find working alongside my male colleagues very refreshing. The mixture is what makes it really interesting.’ Caren is one of only two female employees within a department of 52 people, yet she has long been known and accepted as a skilled worker by her male colleagues. ‘It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re male or female, in the company itself or when you’re with customers. The only thing that matters is that you are motivated to tackle challenges and bounce back from any setbacks,’ she laughs.
Making the right choice
Choosing the right employer is just as important as having the necessary love of technology. Caren Widmann chose Festo due to its extensive staff training, as education and knowledge are key factors in coming up with new technology and making progress. Top-quality employee training is a prerequisite for the successful implementation of new products. Caren is quite clear about this: ‘I feel well cared for here.’