Andreas Marios Konstantinou is a Mechanical engineer coming from sunny Cyprus, who spent 5 months in Slovakia doing his Erasmus+ traineeship as a Process improvement engineer. Even though he arrived by the end of summer, he spent enough time in Slovakia to experience his first real snowy winter. Read more about his experiences in the article below.
1, How did your story first begin and why did you decide to take an Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia?
Following the end of my studies I was constantly seeking an opportunity to gain some practical experience in my field. After a conversation I had with a good friend who had previously attended an Erasmus+ program, I made a good research and came across Placement Slovakia. The job title and description instantly intrigued my interest so I applied in July and started my traineeship in September.
2, Can you tell us what responsibilities the company gave you at work?
During my placement I worked in various subjects like Process Improving Engineering, Quality Control and CAD Design. I really wanted to work and experiment in a variety of departments and learn as much as possible, and I feel grateful that I had the chance to do so.
3, Which skills did you improve the most during your traineeship?
I have improved my communication skills, learnt a new CAD Software from scratch and the most important, gained a basic understanding of how an engineer works and implements his academic knowledge in a real world.
4, What were your expectations and were they met?
To be honest I went to Slovakia with very high expectations. The only thing I had in mind was to gain some solid working experience and make my resume a lot more competitive. After a couple of weeks in the company I realized that I had to fight to be given some good and challenging tasks. It's not that if I didn't speak I would be sitting all day doing nothing, but still this was not enough for me. I was lucky enough to have a very good supervisor, and after some meetings I had with him, he gave me some real responsibilities
5, Did you have any task you had no idea how to proceed with? If so, how did you solve it?
Of course, this was entirely new to me so I had a lot of questions. I have to say that I had a really good support from my supervisor and from my other colleagues.
6, How did you find out our programme and how do you evaluate our assistance during your period here?
I found out just by doing a small research. Placement Slovakia offered me a good and helpful assistance from day one until the end of my placement. The team provided me with support every time I needed it. I want to thank Diana for her support during my application process and later during my whole stay in Nitra.
7, What did you find as the most different from your usual environment, country? Was there any culture shock?
I think Slovaks are very different from the people I am used to, I mean the Mediterranean's. They tend to be quite introverted and they are not very expressive, in comparison with Cypriots which they are known for being very sociable and "loud" people. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. It's nice that I had the chance to leave and work with them and see these differences. Another big difference was the cuisine. I am not that fussy with food at all, and I can say that I've tried some really nice dishes there, but some others were very strange, but still interesting.
8, What did you like the best here in Slovakia?
Snow,snow,snow. It was my first entirely white winter and it was awesome. To be honest, coming from Cyprus the weather was too cold for me, but still I survived and it will be a nice experience to remember.
9, Did you have any work or social difficulties during your stay in Slovakia? If so, how did you solve them?
Only the language barrier, but I have managed to overcome it by using Google Translate and learn some basic Slovak. Also I can speak some basic German, which in some cases is very useful because a lot of people in Slovakia speak German.
10, Did you have enough time to travel and explore Slovakia and neighboring countries? If so, which places did you visit and what left the biggest impact on you?
I didn't have the chance to travel a lot for two main reasons. The first one was because my placement was during winter. Snow, rain and freezing temperatures makes travelling a bit challenging. The only places I have visited in Slovakia is Bratislava and Banska Bystrica and the place I really wanted to go but I didn't manage was in the high Tatra's. Outside Slovakia I have been three times in Vienna and once in Brno in the Czech Republic for a company trip. The second reason I did not have the chance to travel more was because at the time of my placement in Nitra I was the only trainee there, meaning that most of my time I was alone.
11, Which moment of your stay in Slovakia has been the most memorable for you?
The first thing that comes to my mind was my company's Christmas party. It was totally crazy and I had a lot of fun.
12, What are your future plans after finishing the internship?
I have already applied for a Master Degree in Edinburg, Scotland and I'm really looking forward to it.
13, Is there anything you would like to say to students still deciding whether or not to do an internship in Slovakia?
Nowadays internships are necessary and vital in order to find a FT job. Most of the university graduates from the EU that seek internships usually have first in their list countries like the United Kingdom, France or Spain. But after my 5 months experience I would definitely recommended Slovakia for an internship, and especially to fresh graduates coming from technical fields. Slovakia is one of the leading industrial countries in Europe and for sure the demand for engineers will be always high. Except from this, Placement Slovakia team will ensure a pleasant and wonderful stay for every new trainee here.