Interview with Ms Johanna Reus, a working student in BMA’s Project Planning Department.

What was the context for your work placement?

It was a compulsory placement for my Bachelor’s degree.

What were your needs/expectations when you started?

I started my placement on 1 April 2019 and, as a working student, on 1 July 2019. I expected the placement to give me quite a good idea of the different areas that form part of an engineering degree course. With BMA being a medium-sized firm, you are given as much responsibility as possible even as a placement student, and can also apply what you have learned during your studies.

What practical experiences have you gained so far and how do they meet your expectations?

During my work placement, I planned a test setup and I was able to use a lot of what I’d learned during my studies – much as I’d hoped when I started.

Can you tell us more about this test setup?

It was for the juice distributor in the falling-film evaporator. The idea was to identify potential cost savings. Initially, I analysed the cost structure and the manufacturing process. That gave me an idea how this plant is built. Then, the idea came up that we could build a miniature-scale juice distributor and use it for tests in the research centre. So I planned a small plant – together with an experienced colleague, of course. From January, we carried out the testing for this. Although it took a lot of time, the upside was that I had to do a lot of the planning myself, and use many formulae I knew from lectures. At that point, it dawned on me – as it would on any student: "There is actually a point to what I’m learning at university."

Can you imagine joining the BMA team as an employee after you complete your studies?

I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering and, during my studies, have specialised in pharmaceutical engineering. So I’d quite like to work in that field and gain experiences there. But I wouldn’t say No to a permanent job offer if it was made. I really like the fact that BMA is close to town and the work environment overall.

Where did you find out about work placements at BMA?

Before my work placement with BMA, I was working for an institute at TU Braunschweig. The institute was asked whether any students would like to take part in a test series at the BMA research centre. I was interested, so I worked the night shift for a week. That was the first time I became aware of BMA properly. Since I’d only come to Braunschweig for my studies, I didn't really know any local firms.

Why choose BMA?

I like the fact that BMA is a process engineering company that is based in Braunschweig. And I think BMA is the only process engineering company in the area with production workshops on site. So I contacted the HR department and applied for a work placement.

You probably share experiences with other students. What do you find particularly pleasant or attractive at BMA, and is there anything you don't like so much?

As I already said, I very much like the areas of work in research and development, and the pleasant work environment. What I like less are the rather conservative structures, which you often find in medium-sized companies. In some processes, a somewhat fresher, more modern approach could be taken.

How long does it take you to get to work in the morning?

About 15 minutes by bike.

What was the most memorable experience during your work placement?

My most memorable experience was the planning of the test setup and seeing the finished setup at the end of the process. I must admit I was quite proud when the test plant I’d planned was completed and the first tests could be run.

Do you have any personal advice for students in your situation?

It feels like everybody, especially around here, only ever thinks of VW or another global player, just so they have that name on their CV when they graduate. But when you work in a small or medium-sized enterprise, you learn much more, especially during a work placement. I think people should "look beyond the obvious". ;o)

It doesn’t always have to be a huge company. In a medium-sized company like BMA, you learn much more, because you get the big picture and see everything coming together. Even as a placement student, you are given your own small tasks or projects, or the opportunity to help build them from scratch.

How do you combine work with study and leisure?

There are two parts to this really. When I was on the placement, I worked full-time at BMA. That was a new experience: only work and no lectures. And I couldn't go shopping at lunchtime, of course, when the shops are nice and empty. Instead I had to go in the evening, at the end of the day. But still, I had a great time. Now I am a working student at BMA. That can be quite exhausting, because on the days that I work, I’m sometimes on my feet from 8 in the morning until 6 at night, with lectures in the morning and work in the afternoon – plus, I have to study at night. Still, I think it works quite well. And most of the time, it’s not been a problem moving my working hours if I’ve had to attend an important lecture.

What has been your best experience here?

The game of carpet curling against a member of the BMA board at the last Christmas party. :o)

Thank you for these insights. We’re very pleased that you support us with your work and wish you all the best for your future career!