February 09, 2016
An engineering degree is not always a prerequisite to working with an engineering giant. Gabriela Miron’s interview today takes us through her adventures with Atlas Copco Compressors in the United Kingdom, from knowing nothing about the company to being an integral part of the Marketing and Communications department.
Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Romania but decided to study a BA International Relations in the United Kingdom at Coventry University. I chose the degree because of the interesting mixture of politics and history on a larger scale as well as the possibility to apply the learnt frameworks within other fields, such as Marketing and Communications in my case.
"A job's not done until I've won." Funnily enough, this was something that was said about me by a supervisor in one of my previous roles. It is in great part due to exhibiting a limitless persistence for getting things done my way. I liked it so it stuck around.
How did you come to be doing a Marketing and Communications internship at Atlas Copco Compressors UK? Did you consider working for us before that?
I applied for an internship through a UK-based scheme called Year in Industry which aims to place students within engineering companies to get some hands on experience for a year. To my great shame, I had never heard of Atlas Copco before receiving the invitation to interview with them.
I say shame because with the insight I have had, I realise that the company's products are all around me and I have interacted with items that they have had a hand in producing more times than I can count. Ever drank a pint of beer? There is a 50/50 chance that you have drunk something which Atlas Copco compressors helped to produce. And then there is taking a shower, the clothing you wear or the cars you drive… Unknowingly, we entrust Atlas Copco with many of the things which we expect in day-to-day life and that is truly something which we should be aware of and appreciate.
What type of work did you do during your internship at Atlas Copco?
The fantastic part about the projects which I was given is that they were not fictional creations or the jobs which nobody wanted to do in the office. I had a critical part working alongside the Competence and Development Specialist in creating our first ever Competence and Development catalogue, a comprehensive resource for all the kinds of training offered within the company. I also got to work closely with the Marketing and Communications team in arranging exhibitions, press conferences and office openings, coordinating sales campaigns, creating advertising materials, putting together our first ever infographics and creating online newsletters.
All in all, I had a chance to do just about everything across both internal and external Communications and Marketing activities and the best part was that I was trusted to be able to take on the challenge and ask for help when I needed some. I am not sure that there are many companies who would take such a gamble with their interns.
I understand that your friends have mostly had placements in local and central government, how do you think your experience compares to theirs?
It was definitely interesting to work in the private sector while my friends were in government positions or away in foreign countries but I found that we learnt some very similar things with regards to teamwork, negotiation and listening skills, the basics of any job, I mean. Where our experiences diverge is the particular focus of Atlas Copco on the customer's experience and the company's culture and atmosphere. With Atlas Copco, you feel like you are part of a family, rather than a company.
Bearing this in mind, did you find your placement in an engineering company more challenging / more entertaining than a public sector placement might have been? / Have you learnt anything that changed your perception of an engineering company?I did have an appreciation for the work of engineering companies before I joined Atlas Copco, this was the reason why I pursued a placement within an engineering company, but after this year with the company, I daresay that everything has me slightly in awe and wondering about the process by which things were produced. It has also made me somewhat more critical of the products which I purchase, now knowing that there are certain standards which we should expect from companies we engage with.
Now that you're almost at the end, what are your thoughts?
Despite whatever the job descriptions may say, jobs within engineering companies are not regular, desk-based 9 to 5 jobs. The experience of working with an engineering company is life-changing, no two days are the same and that makes every day a challenge. Whether you are an engineer or one of the miracle workers who ensure the engineers can do their jobs, in Atlas Copco we are equal, with a very Swedish approach – that is to say open to critique and always searching for improvement.
What did you like best during your internship?
I liked the hands-on work and numerous projects best. Working on things which people needed and sometimes on things which they were not even aware they needed. I would say that the work atmosphere made a significant impact on the perception of my job, though. The people at Atlas Copco Compressors are helpful and welcoming, they make every day a pleasure and every day exciting.
What are the most important things you have learned during your placement?
I have learnt a lot about coordinating events, how to create marketing campaigns and was even able to improve on some of my rudimentary web editing skills but what I think will stay with me forever is the importance of being proactive. Atlas Copco taught me the value of thinking two steps ahead in the real world.
Would you come back to work with Atlas Copco in the future?
If I were given the chance, I would definitely pursue a career within Atlas Copco or the Atlas Copco Group at least. I simply cannot ignore the lure of this company!
What would you recommend to other students in your position?
I would recommend to students to not limit themselves to the traditional fields associated with their degrees and consider engineering companies as a possibility. They may find that they have a culture match with companies such as Atlas Copco and the possibilities for development are nearly endless when considering the worldwide presence of engineering companies.
What are you going to do when you leave here?This experience has helped me a lot in figuring out the kind of work which I would like to do in the future. I am going to finish my degree at Coventry and then I will embark on the quest for a full time, permanent job within Marketing and Communications or Training and Competence Development.