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Graduates talk about their experiences at Festo 

Testimonials by entry-level newcomers at Festo

You’ve taken another important step by completing your degree or vocational training. Congratulations! You’ve laid the foundations for your career, and now you can start moving the world with your ideas. Our world of work. The testimonials of a few employees reveal exactly how that might look.

Kathrin Evers: Functional and Data Architecture

 Kathrin Evers: countless contacts through Festo’s student network
Kathrin Evers: countless contacts through Festo’s student network

Kathrin Evers studied mechatronics at TU Dresden. During this time, she completed a traineeship at the École Supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon, an engineering university in Lyon, France. There, she and her colleagues worked on a service robot which they were preparing for the RoboCup@Home league. Along the way, Kathrin hoped to eventually become a research engineer with a focus on automation technology and robotics.

The traineeship as a springboard for a scholarship

‘Unlike most scholarship holders, I first encountered Festo during my traineeship. Just six months ago, I was working in the field of corporate research for future technologies in production systems. As a member of the team, I helped to work on a concept for an energy transparency system. Energy flows and consumption in production were analysed and special energy-saving measures established. My role was to develop a way of representing this that would be comprehensible to all users, from the machine operators to the plant managers. The majority of the project took place at the Scharnhausen Technology Plant. While on-site there, I learned how the organisation ran its extensive production department. I still have fond memories of my time as a trainee. I made contacts very quickly, not least due to Festo’s large student network.

Team spirit among the students is fostered through everything from lunches together to a wide range of recreational activities. That’s what I really like about Festo – the friendly environment and rapport with colleagues. During my traineeship, I kept coming across topics and issues that meant that I had to rely on assistance from other departments, and they were always happy to help me. As such, I learned just how important it is to work with other departments, as this is the only way of ensuring an innovative working atmosphere. The traineeship was fantastic: over the course of it I was able to gain lots of experience that I am still drawing upon today – getting an early taste of practical work is simply indispensable.

I learned about the possibility of a scholarship from my colleagues when I was there on the traineeship. They also provided me with support during the application stage. Finally, I submitted my application via Festo Jobworld. And I was successful: a little while later, I received an email inviting me to visit the assessment centre.

Support is built into the mentoring concept

Like all of the scholarship holders, I have a mentor at Festo. I talk with him on a regular basis. When I was preparing for my thesis, he and my former colleagues from the department in which I did my traineeship helped me to look for a suitable professor. My mentor’s practical experience also came in very useful when I had to make a decision on my thesis topic and the place where I would study. Ahead of the meeting with my professor, I got lots of tips and in-depth coaching.

The scholarship provided ideal preparation for my professional career. I had a clear idea of what to expect as a research engineer, and I was not disappointed: now I have settled in and I am very happy about my position as application engineer in the Digital Business department. There, we are developing a functional model which, on the one hand, models our products, their relationships and capabilities and, on the other hand, helps to understand customer requests and requirements and to divide them into elementary, defined functions.

Anna Lena Fetzer: Control Systems Digital Pneumatics

Anna Lena Fetzer: Scholarship holder, Master student, young professional
Anna Lena Fetzer: Scholarship holder, Master student, young professional

The focus on electrical engineering and computer science was the deciding factor for Anna Lena Fetzer. She studied electrical engineering and computer science and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. As a master’s degree student, she is currently honing her knowledge of automation technology at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

It wasn’t long before I realised that this was the one

I first learned about Festo from the Galileo programme on TV. The SmartBird bionics project was presented in one of the reports. I was completely gripped by it. I then came into closer contact with the company at a university fair. It was at that point that I heard about the possibility of a scholarship. When I was making the decision as to whether to do a master’s degree, I submitted my application straight away and got accepted.

A special kind of scholarship

Together with financial support, as a scholarship holder I also get an insight into different areas of the company. I was able to familiarise myself with the process sequences of electronics development on-site during a trial day and thus gained a better understanding of the different stages involved. I also receive special support from my mentor. She’s always there to answer any questions that I might have in relation to my studies.

For instance, my master’s thesis: before you come up with a specific topic, you spend a lot of time thinking and gathering ideas. To help me, she passed on contacts for various people within the research department, among other things. As a result, my ideas became a lot clearer and I now have a topic and a focus on a particular department, with the result being that, from October, I will be working in the embedded-systems research area as a master’s student. I will be concentrating on hardware in the loop, a method of testing and safeguarding systems within Festo’s development department.

Another plus point of the mentoring scheme is that my close contact with my mentor means that I am becoming familiar with the everyday work of the company and experiencing at close hand what leading a development team really looks like. Having started with organisational activities, I now handle all sorts of professional tasks, including arranging events.

One real highlight of the scholarship is the Stay Inspired meetings for all scholarship holders and members of the Stay Inspired network, which provide an opportunity for us to get to know one another, talk about our work and learn about exciting practical developments at Festo.

Settled in to professional life

I now work in pre-development, where I was given the chance to advance the subject and the knowledge of my master’s thesis.

Mehmet Soysal: Corporate Master Data Management

Mehmet Soysal: From the student trainee job to the final thesis to career entry
Mehmet Soysal: From the student trainee job to the final thesis to career entry

Mehmet Soysal joined Festo in 2015 as a working student. He is studying business administration with a focus on technology, and is studying towards a bachelor’s degree in engineering change management.

‘When looking for a position as a working student, I made a conscious decision to opt for Festo. I come from the local area and have been familiar with the company for a long time. I particularly like its international focus: as a family business, Festo has its roots in Germany, but it is nonetheless a globally active company that offers its employees lots of opportunities for development, including working abroad.’

Being a working student means really getting involved

As a working student, I took part in a complex project as part of the SAP modification process. I was also an integral member of the team that organised international training programmes on engineering change coordination. Alongside providing operational support as an instructor, I helped to produce instruction documents in English and German.

I particularly liked the fact that I could contribute my own ideas, and that many of my suggestions were put into practice. I always got the sense that my work was seen as useful and valued. The interrelationship between the company and my degree course was fantastic; I’m still noticing parallels between the two and benefiting from this overlap. It was great to see how aspects of theory were implemented in practice, producing a concrete solution at the end. While I was a working student, I had lots of free time, which allowed me to divide up my projects and tasks. This flexibility meant that combining work with my studies was completely straightforward.

Since last year I have been part of the Stay Inspired intern retention programme, which has demonstrated the high regard and trust that the company has in me.

The major project: the bachelor and masther thesis togehter with Festo

I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on the analysis of international administrative process costs in the context of change implementation and my master’s thesis on the conception for the reorganisation of global master data distribution.

The biggest advantage is that my time as a working student has made me thoroughly acquainted with the company’s internal processes, so I know my own work setting inside out. Being a working student has also prepared me very well for my future career. If I have questions, I can ask my mentor at Festo at any time, and we get together on a regular basis to discuss my ongoing work. I have also been given advice and tips for my professional career going forward. I really appreciate this personal contact – there is an enormous willingness to help on the part of my colleagues and supervisors. My supervisors and department have also provided a lot of support for me as I pursue my dream of gaining some international work experience with Festo.

International traineeship with Festo US

In 2016, as an intern at Festo US, I was able to tackle an exciting project. As far as I’m concerned, this kind of experience abroad – coupled with specific practical application – is pure gold.

It was worth the effort: since 2018, I have been permanently employed in the Master Data Management department. There, I can now work on the subject of my master’s thesis full-time, which means that I am dealing with the topic of master data distribution.

Lena Hägele: Control Systems Digital Pneumatics

Research engineer Lena Hägele (right): after a scholarship, she joined the company directly
Research engineer Lena Hägele (right): after a scholarship, she joined the company directly

Lena Hägele received her master’s degree in engineering cybernetics from the University of Stuttgart. Since early 2016 she has worked in Festo’s research department. Her work involves regulating pneumatic drives. Thanks to a scholarship from Festo, which was tied in with a traineeship position in process automation, she was able to familiarise herself with operating sequences and make valuable contacts beforehand.

A working student placement with practical relevance to one’s degree course

‘The big advantage of my traineeship was that it went perfectly with my degree. My main responsibilities included the MATLAB programming for a graphic user interface for optimising specific system parameters. This task was very challenging and exciting, and covered the exact area that I had been learning about at university. I was particularly impressed by the way in which the team worked well together. Although the fact that I was a student meant that I was only there occasionally, I was made to feel completely one of the team.

The scholarship mentoring scheme is worth its weight in gold

Like every scholarship holder, I had my own mentor. It wasn’t that long since my mentor had done her doctorate, so she was very good at empathising with my situation as a university student. We’ve formed a really good friendship. What’s more, she also studied engineering cybernetics and was able to support me with help and advice. I’m still in contact with her and can always rely on her for advice.

As a scholarship holder, I was part of the trainee retention programme “Stay Inspired”. This was a fantastic opportunity to educate myself further, especially in areas that weren’t really covered at university, such as conflict management or assessment centre training. I’ll be able to benefit from this additional training in my everyday work, too.

A stroke of luck, with great benefits and prospects for the future

I had a lot of advanced training opportunities due to my scholarship, and I gained valuable insights into practical work in my field. I had very dedicated support, not to mention financial support, too. During my master’s degree I was also involved with Festo through a collaborative project with the University of Stuttgart. Once this came to an end in 2015 I did a three-month traineeship in process automation to gain further experience, before officially starting my career at Festo in 2016.

Entering the Research department at Festo directly was a long-held aim of mine. I am particularly pleased that I am now involved in a futuristic field with a focus on digitisation.