My summer job at Akzo Nobel

​​​For two and a half months ago, I was heading to my first day as a summer worker at the Research, Development & Innovation department at Akzo Nobel located in Bohus, a city nearby Göteborg. It would be my first time working for a company in Sweden, my first time working in Swedish and my first time directly working with chemical engineering!​​​​​​
Now it's been long enough so I can share with you a bit of my experience. I have been working with process development, in the field of electrolysis, and have learned to operate one of the pilot plants that are being used for those studies. Just that by itself has been an amazing opportunity for me! From a technical perspective, I have been learning a lot in the electrolysis field and also about the challenges that come up when working with pilot plants and experiments in a daily basis. 

But when I started looking for a summer job, I was not only after the technical experience. I wanted to feel how it is to work in Sweden when it comes to working environment, relationship with colleagues and so on. Sweden feels home for me from a student perspective, but would it feel like that once I started working? I have no doubts about that now.

All the things that I had heard about the 'horizontality' and that I had experienced with my professors at Chalmers were confirmed to be true at my summer job. I'm able to talk to pretty much anyone and my opinion, as a summer worker, is taken into account when discussing, for example, technical issues and different topics with co-workers that have been working there for over 15 years.  Besides that, every day during fika and lunch, everybody meets up and we are all able to chat about different things and get to know each other, which I think is really valuable and important, specially from an integration perspective.

Another aspect that I was able to experience is the gender equality at the workplace. In Brazil, it was not unusual for me to hear comments related to the fact that I'm a woman. Not disrespectful comments, but still the fact of being a woman was 'noticed' in the engineering field. Here I have never felt like that. I'm a just 'a person' when it comes to that ​aspect and that is great. 

One last thing that you might be wondering is about the 'working in Swedish' part that I mentioned just in the beginning. I started to learn Swedish in 2013 when I came to Chalmers as an exchange student and now I have been able to fully work in Swedish. Personally, I think it helps to learn the language. Both when it comes to finding a job and also regarding feeling yourself as 'part of the group' at work. It's not a must though, as you might have already heard. 

But well, having a summer job at RD&I at Akzo Nobel has been an amazing experience and I have had a really great summer there! Looking for a summer job is definitely something I recommend doing for several reasons, but for me seeing life in Sweden from a perspective other than a student was remarkable. 

​Text: Carolina Braga
Image: Private

Page manager Published: Mon 17 Oct 2016.