“To provide more and more people across the globe with renewable energies.” SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) has dedicated itself to this vision and I have been working right alongside them to this end. My name is Jan Gierse and I am 24 years old. I have been a part of the company and the vision for a good year now and want to tell you about how I found my way to SMA, and what I have done here.
Let’s rewind to one year ago: The setting – Nordhausen in Südharz, home to the Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences. It was at this university that I studied for my bachelor’s degree in renewable energy technology and then went on to do a consecutive master’s program in systems engineering with a specialization in electrical energy systems.
During the course of my second to last semester I began searching for a place where I could complete my final project. SMA had been on my radar as a potential employer even as I studied for my bachelor’s degree because of their extensive experience in photovoltaic systems technology and their position in the world market.
There were quite a few different final project openings in various engineering disciplines on the company’s online job portal. While looking through the portal, I came across the topic of photovoltaic diesel hybrid systems, which was really different from the other projects because it involved systems engineering.
In the project description I rediscovered the cross-component system concept that had motivated me to choose my master’s program in the first place.
The idea of integrating photovoltaics into conventional power generation systems in order to save on diesel generator fuel costs, while at the same time considerably reducing CO2 emissions is terrific in my opinion.
After I sent my application in online through the portal I had to wait for about a week before I was invited to an interview. An employee from the HR department and my future advisor from the Development department were expecting me. The interview was held in a pleasant atmosphere. I answered questions about my career path up until this point, my motivation and a few specialized questions on photovoltaic power inverters.
After our discussion they assured me that someone would contact me soon. And just as they promised, the call to tell me I had been accepted came the very next day. We provided the necessary signatures on the contract by mail. Two contracts were drafted at the same time.
The first one was for a three-month preliminary internship and the second was for six months, during which I would complete the final project.
My integration into the team was seamless from day one. I was welcomed by everyone in a very friendly way. As an intern, the sentence I heard the most at SMA in the first few weeks was: “If there is anything you want to know, just stop by.”
I took advantage of this offer and was able to quickly get acquainted with the topic and system within the first two weeks. During the third week, the project manager of the development project I was on at the time came to me and assigned me my first task packets. From that moment on I was involved in the project and responsible for implementing and testing control functions as well as developing a graphic user interface and connecting it to the controlling system.
For the most part I was given free rein, which I found pretty impressive since I was fresh out of the university. I was not alone in that respect, there were quite a few people of the same age in the company who were also completing an internship or were being hired on.
These were my task the entire time I wrote my master’s thesis. This took time of course and I had to extend my contract by one month. But I was glad to invest the time because it allowed me to maintain ties with the team and the development project. The advice I received on my work was exemplary and I always felt as though the department was greatly interested in the work I was doing.
In the last few weeks, the area and department management indicated that they were interested in employing me as an engineer after I completed my studies. I shared their interest and we decided to make it official. Two months have passed since I was hired on as a new graduate and I am taking on more responsibility and more complex tasks. I am very glad that it worked out. Doing an internship with SMA is something I would definitely recommend to others and I am really excited about the tasks and projects to come.
Jan Gierse (guest author)
Meanwhile Jan is working at SMA as a Developer in the area PV-Diesel-Hybrid systems. In his free time he likes to take a ride on his bicycle, is dating with friends or enjoys reading a good book in the sun.