”As an HBPO working student I am part of something big!”

University and work – just not an option for some people. For Isaac, a working student at HBPO, it is the best way of combining university theory with the practice of his future profession. The young man from Congo (Democratic Republic) is bursting with energy – and is doggedly pursuing his aim: to achieve something that will make his family proud.

Why did you decide to work as a working student alongside your studies?

When I came from Congo to Germany in May 2015 I knew it was my chance to prove I am good and can achieve something. Yet during the first semester I noticed that the others already had something I didn’t: practical experience.

I didn’t like not being able to join in the conversations because I didn’t have any practical experience up to that point, since I had had mainly theoretical training in my home country. The will to change this and be able to join in became greater and greater, and I set myself the goal of getting to know working life before the end of my studies. I have now achieved this target and it feels good.

Isaac, how long have you been working at HBPO?

I have been living in Germany since 2015 and have been a fixture at HBPO since 2018. I started a four-month work experience stint here in April 2018. That was my first chance to get to know working life. Right from the very beginning I was so fascinated by the technology and creation of front-end modules that I decided to deepen the experience I had had so far.

Luckily, HBPO felt the same way and we decided to continue our relationship. I was then given a contract as a working student.

How did you find out about HBPO?

HBPO is in the direct vicinity of my university. I noticed the modern building with its bright facade and impressive module rack facing the road immediately. Straight way, I was curious as to what was behind it. It took a while for me to apply for work experience. In the end it was someone I knew from football, now from work, who encouraged me.

A decision I have never regretted!

Which specialist department do you work in and what do you particularly like about it?

I am currently working on the Industrial Engineering team. Before I started my degree, I didn’t know what was behind the name. I am a planner in Industrial Engineering. My supervisor recognised at my interview that I am someone who likes to plan his life down to the last detail – including the work experience, which I applied for a year in advance.

I find it fascinating to see how one process interplays with another in this industry, and the enormous and demanding planning behind it all. I like the challenge of having to think ahead, because if planning fails, the project will come to a halt somewhere. I think it is the responsibility I appreciate most.

What are your tasks as a student trainee?

I mainly deal with the backup process of manufacturing machines. More precisely, my work involves the programming of backup workstations.

In addition I serve as an interface between the actuator suppliers and the system programmer. My task is to test samples and make suggestions for improvements where necessary. 

How many hours do you work a week?

At the moment I work 20 hours. This fits in well with my studies.

Does your job involve a routine or is it more ad hoc?

The processes I look after are always the same. However, customer requirements always differ, which means I have to rethink constantly and no two days are the same. And that is great and challenging!

It is important for me to keep a 100% overview of the projects I am involved in. If production threatens to come to a standstill, I am even called in to help out. It feels good to be treated as an established part of the team whose work is valued!

You have a real talent for languages! Can you use your languages in your day-to-day job?

That’s right, I speak five languages: French, German, English, Lingala and Spanish.

At work I mainly use German and English. I speak French or Spanish to a few colleagues. Generally speaking, languages are useful on business trips in order to get to know different cultures or break the ice.

Can you imagine working in this field in the future?

Definitely! I always think out of the box! I love tinkering and trying things out. I find the precision and sophistication behind all planning and programming absolutely fascinating!

 

How would you describe the working atmosphere in your team or at HBPO in general?

We are close in my department everyone laughs and works together respectfully.

We work together on solving problems. No finger-pointing goes on! If I have problems or questions, I ask my colleagues directly, they are always happy to help, sometimes even without me asking ...

Did you decide consciously for the automotive sector or was it chance?

It was certainly not chance! – When I was a child, I watched “Knight Rider” on TV – and have been fascinated by cars ever since! I always wanted to build a car just like it.

Before I joined HBPO I had a job at a company that makes seat belts. The connection to the automotive industry has always been there.

What motivates you? Have you got a specific objective in mind?

At HBPO I am part of something big. It is great to produce components for renowned customers and to understand the work that goes into that. I used to see cars and was impressed by their appearance, now it is the technology that has me amazed.

The front-end module is an elementary component that can save lives during an accident thanks to the pedestrian protection feature. It is important for me to actively work on this subject.

My main objective is to make my family proud of me. I am responsible for my family and I would like to prove to my parents that I have made it! The respect and acknowledgement of my family is very important to me!

One day I would like to help to improve the educational opportunities in my home country.

What do you do to relax from your stressful day?

I am most relaxed when I read. I am interested in the works of Cedric Villani and biographies of scientists. When I’m not reading, I play football or go to the gym. I can really let off steam there. Or I meet up with friends. I just do what I feel like.

You have an interesting vita! Would you like to tell us a bit more about yourself?

My personal motivation to come to Germany was the educational system. In Congo, good school education is usually only possible by paying a lot of money. So I came to Germany in 2015 and thus went on my first journey. The greatest challenge was the language at first, which is why I visited the Berlin International College for a year.

Once I had mastered German, I had my A levels recognised by TU Berlin. Since my school-leaving qualifications from Congo were only accepted in part in Germany, I had to do a final test at the TU in Berlin (assessment test) to be able to attend university.

I wanted to copy my brother and study engineering. He currently lives in Canada and has done a PhD in civil engineering there. I decided quite consciously for Germany at the age of 19, because engineering has an excellent reputation here. This is how I ended up in Lippstadt, where I have been studying since September 2016. It was not easy to settle down so far away from my family and without speaking the language, but the will to achieve something was greater.

I am also a tutor at university. I was responsible for the technical mechanics tutorial for about 6 months. I really enjoy passing on knowledge to others.

What do you value about Germany?

In Germany, people get the chance to prove themselves. You are listened to and treated with respect. This has made me more confident and I am no longer worried about speaking to a large group of people! The mentality was very different at first, of course, but I would say that my entire “culture shock” was positive.

Do you have any tips for others who are thinking of joining HBPO?

If you are reliable, flexible and hard-working you will be able to get to know the HBPO world well and settle in to the automotive industry.

If you had to describe HBPO in one sentence, what would you say?

I can rely on HBPO!