'The focus of my electrical engineering degree at Drexel is power and energy systems, where I would like to have a career in design, operations or management when I graduate. As I am enrolled in the co-op programme at Drexel, I always wanted to do a co-op abroad, so this influenced me to find a programme that would allow me to study and work in an international environment. I got this opportunity through the UAS7 consortium of German universities of applied sciences and their study and internship programme (SIP).
Of the seven possible universities, I chose HAW Hamburg because they offer classes that are closely related to the ones I would have taken at Drexel. So, finding course equivalencies was an easy process. Hamburg is also a beautiful city with a lot of nature and that made HAW Hamburg more attractive for me.
I took classes in engineering, project and business management, as well as a German class. I was involved in a number of group projects and excursions, and the professors went into a lot of depth with their topics, which was nice. I loved the fact that we didn’t have homework, so I could keep up with course content at my own pace. Through the German class I have managed to improve my German language skills to A2 and even B1 when it comes to understanding what people are saying. Chatting regularly with my flatmate from the Ivory Coast has also helped widen my vocabulary.
For me, a key goal of my year abroad was finding an internship and experiencing work life in an international team. Admittedly, I underestimated the timeline of finding an internship in a new country with a very different internship culture. Companies really take their time to screen candidates in Germany, so when I heard back from some for interviews it was a little too late for my timeline. In the end I found an internship on campus, which I was very happy about.
I have been working at the HAW Hamburg Research and Transfer Centre for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Management. This is a fast-paced team of experts from different scientific backgrounds involved in numerous EU projects at a time. They are very international, and I enjoyed supporting and learning various project management skills from them. I had to get to know the projects quickly in order to be of use to the team, but this wasn’t hard, as the projects were very interesting, each having their own focus on sustainability. I learned a lot about plastic alternatives and about the circular economy, as well as best practices at different levels of governance (household, businesses, local authorities). The team was very supportive and provided very useful professional and personal advice over the course of my internship, which will help shape my decisions in the future.