As a part of my Erasmus Master’s in Food Innovation and Product Design (FIPDes) program at Lund University, the last semester was dedicated to the thesis project. I was given the freedom to choose the topic and where I would conduct the project, whether in the University, research center, or in a company. After some thorough considerations, I decided that doing an internship in a company would suit my future career plan better.
The journey of finding a place for internship started from around the end of September 2019. Because I majored in Food and Packaging Development, my exploration mainly revolved around the food and packaging industry. I did all the searching by myself, although there were some collaboration projects available provided by the consortium of my process. I attended a career event at Lund University, actively searched through job sites and LinkedIn, and tried to personally reach out some contacts that I got from networking events. The process was quite stressful as I had limited time to find the project and made decisions about it.
Around mid-October 2019, a FIPDes alumni who is working at Electrolux contacted the program coordinator at Lund University and sent out some possible projects that were available for the master’s student internship. It was quite a surprise for me as I never thought that an electronic company would have an opportunity for food science students. It turned out that they have a team in their R&D department that is mainly dedicated to advanced food preservation in their fridge products. This also proved that the network is an essentialthing, especially in Sweden, as the job was not advertised anywhere else. They needed to hire an intern immediately and the easiest way was to reach out within the available networks. This method can be commonly found in Sweden.
Picture 1: My Internship Card at Electroluxa
I was interested in one of the projects related to bagged lettuce quality evaluation during storage in the fridge. I sent my CV and cover letter to the company. Then I was interviewed about 2 weeks after I sent my application. What surprised me during the interview was that the manager was really interested in my hobbies and activities outside of work. He explained to me about all the facilities that the company has to maintain the work-life balance of their employees, such as various sport activities and facilities inside the office. I could really see how they tried to ensure me that work-life balance is a crucial thing in Swedish working environment. A week after the interview, I got an acceptance email, which means that I had the opportunity to learn and understand the Swedish way of working. I was super excited!
The company is located in the capital city of Sweden, so it required me to move from Lund to Stockholm. My internship started on the 20th of January and lasted for about 5 months. I was nervous, but also very enthusiastic in conducting my thesis project with them. I was the only intern in the department and all my colleagues were experts in their fields. I had the chance to learn a lot from them. Because of the flat hierarchy, it felt really easy to talk with them and they also welcomed me very warmly.
What I liked the most from my internship at Electrolux was that I was given the full freedom in planning and directing my project. They briefed me the expected outcome and the available supporting systems in the department, but the execution process was almost entirely held accountable to me. I could explore any method and expand the project the way I wanted it, as long as it was still within the project outcomes expectation. I was also always involved in their meetings and activities, thus I really felt like part of the team. It allowed me to understand the whole business process, aside from my thesis project. I learned a lot about the way the company works, and I built a network with many experts in different fields.
Aside from working on my project, I was also an active member of their gym membership. I joined yoga regularly, used the court to play badminton with some PPI, and accessed their gym facility as well. Almost all of my colleagues were active in sport and it was very common to see employees came to work after exercising or even doing the exercise in between the working hours, as the sport facilities are located inside the office. The working style in the company emphasized efficient working, which means that we had to use the time as effectively as possible so that we still had time to maintain the life outside of work. I learned from my colleagues how to work efficiently and prioritize things without forgetting that we are just humans who also need some time for ourselves doing things we love. In the end of the project, I managed to accomplish the project successfully, and I was still able to maintain an active life outside of work.
Although it was only a five-month internship, I learned so much, not only academically but also professionally. I understood better about Swedish working environment and started to actually enjoy it. If you ask me whether I want to experience working in this company again, my answer would undoubtedly be “Definitely!”.
M.Sc. Food Innovation and Product Design
Editor: Annusyirvan Ahmad Fatoni