Mohamad Kaddoura has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut. For a year ago, he started pursuing the Master's programme in Sustainable Energy Systems
and this was his first long-term international experience. So far he can tell that he likes it a lot!
When Mohamad started studying here at Chalmers, he hadn't thought of getting a summer job and was, in fact, planning what he was going to do during his vacation in Lebanon. However, when he found out that several summer job positions were very technical and could completely be related to the studies, his interest grew. That, besides what he had heard about the working environment in Sweden, resulted in the feeling that he had to try!
Life Cycle Assessment and SCA
Last spring, Mohamad took a course in LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) as part of his Master's programme. LCA is simply assessing the impact of all stages in the life cycle of a product, based on what it emits. After taking this course, he decided that he wanted to move towards the environmental field for working in the future.
SCA is a company that has strong relations with Chalmers and several lectures are given during the study period. Mohamad attended one of them and got an insight of the strong focus in sustainability, motivating him to apply for a summer job there.
Mohamad got a summer job as an environmental specialist, and worked directly with LCA, which was a perfect fit! He worked in the group function sustainability, helping some of the members in their projects. He was also introduced to the software GaBi, which is a common LCA software, and had a few projects using it.
How different was the working environment?
According to Mohamad, there were three main points:
1) How nice colleagues were, 'equality'
"When I signed my contract, I had a fika with them, and everyone in the team welcomed me and was very friendly. Besides, everyone spoke English whenever I was there (fika – meeting – lecture), even if I was the only non-Swedish speaking one. Also, everyone was 'equal' to each other, and I would speak to the manager in the same way I would speak to my friend."
"In my country, it will take some time before you build trust with your manager/colleagues. Here, on my first day I attended the monthly function group sustainability meeting, which contained some confidential data. I was also given access to some files which were confidential and worked on project which were private."
"Even though I was introduced to this during my studies, I liked it more at work. Here it was more organized, because we had it twice a day (15 mins each) at almost fixed times. Also, regular fikas were not enough, so we had a longer 30 mins Friday’s fika, where each week someone different brought some desserts. The main topic for fika was weather and vacation. We always complained how the weather was bad (or good!) and plans for the vacation (or what the others had done in the previous one)."
Hints for finding a summer job?
"I would suggest that people start searching as soon as possible (January would be good), and to apply to different companies, because you never know which one will contact you. Also, it is good to attend seminars and lectures given by companies at Chalmers, so you know which company suits you the most, and maybe build some contacts. Besides, I would suggest them to like and follow the Facebook page Teknologjobben, because they always post available jobs, and in the period January-March, it is mainly summer jobs. I would wish everyone who is applying next year good luck!!"
Regarding knowing the Swedish language, Mohamad said that his work was fully conducted in English since this is the official reporting language of the company. However, he thinks that if he knew Swedish it would have been easier in terms of the social life.
Having a summer job at SCA was a richfull experience for Mohamad! He did not only enhance his technical skills, but also was introduced to the Swedish way of doing things.
Text: Adapted by Carolina Braga from written interview with Mohamad Kaddoura.
Image: Private from Mohamad Kaddoura.