Posted on Fri, Jul 13, 2018
Recently, a couple of our hardworking student employees - Dhilan Devadasan & Máté Lukács - won a National award for UK Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY) in their role as Manufacturing Engineers at Ossila. They very kindly took the time to have a chat with us so you can get to know them better!
In this casual interview, they share details on what their typical day on the job looks like, the skills they have picked up on the way, give some valuable advice, and talk about their hobbies!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Dhilan: My day usually starts by identifying any outstanding orders and what needs to be put together. Whilst I'm building things, I keep track of component stock levels - so there is also a stock management aspect to my role. Sometimes, I also train new employees.
Máté: I start by making a plan for the day in my notebook. Sometimes, my manager will have emailed me a brief plan beforehand - but if not, we'll have a quick meeting. From there, I'll be either building or running diagnostic tests to check if a product has met quality control specifications before it gets approved to be shipped out. I also troubleshoot any product issues that arise, making sure that the same problem doesn't happen twice. Dhilan and I also continuously learn from each other - we're always training each other!
How have you been able to balance your studies whilst working part-time?
D: Well, the job is completely flexible, so I am able to arrange my work hours around my university schedule. Our manager is very understanding, and has always believed that studies should be the priority. He does well by planning ahead for when we can't be at work for extended periods (e.g. exam season).
M: Working part-time helped me to get better at managing my studies. I've learned that you don't need more time, you just need to use your time wisely. Time constraints are often stricter at work - my work affects other people's work, which will ultimately impact the customers - so I stopped procrastinating!
For this role, I was required to read some books that had helpful tips I could apply not only at work - but also in a 3rd-year university module on Manufacturing Technology & Systems. This helped me get better grades for that assignment, as I was able to look at things from a costing perspective. Similarly, what I learnt from the university module helped me do better at work, as I could apply my theoretical knowledge to practice.
What valuable career skills have you developed while working at Ossila?
D: Communication skills. If there are any issues with a piece of equipment, I have to relay them to the R&D team. Additionally, when I come across stock that needs to be ordered, I let my manager (and other relevant persons) know. As my role involves task delegation and ensuring that there is a coherent work flow between different people working on different aspects of a product, this has helped build my teamwork skills.
Lastly, the stock management aspect of my role has definitely improved my organisation skills. I also have to coordinate with my other team members in arranging my work schedule, so that we can plan our days better.
M: My confidence in putting ideas forward has grown because I have seen how my ideas have had a tangible effect at work. Here, even if your ideas fail, there are other employees who have the professional experience and knowledge to support and push that idea forward in a different way. Working here has also taught me what having a sense of ownership looks and feels like. I have more responsibility because anything that I work on will have Ossila's signature on it!
What advice would you give to future student employees at Ossila?
D: Don't be afraid to try new things, as you never know what you'll like or dislike until you try it yourself! For example, SMD soldering is something that most people don't enjoy because it's a slow process that requires patience. However, one of my team members tried it for the first time recently and discovered that they really enjoyed it!
I'd also say don't be afraid to go beyond your contract-defined role, as there are opportunities for you to really develop as a person and build new skills. You could also make a huge difference to the company! Being an SME, the culture here very much encourages cross-functionality. There is room for you to carve out your role and your own path in the company.
M: When you're learning how to work on something new, the outcome is more important than the time spent on it. I used to worry that I was taking too long when I was first starting out. However, my manager told me that if it meant a customer would be happy with the outcome, it would be worth it!
Ask lots of questions as a new employee, but it's also good to try and come up with a solution yourself first - don't be scared to suggest new solutions and present ideas from a different perspective.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
D: I love the outdoors, so I like going to the Peaks, or bouldering. I also enjoy nights out and socialising. For good food, I like the Peddler Food Markets and Nottingham House pub (especially the lamb & feta pie)!
M: I work on various student engineering projects - this is my actual hobby! I've worked on projects that involve building a lunar rover, high-quality telescope for near-space altitudes (where atmosphere is < 1%), and constructing a functional single-engine, two-seater 1920s aircraft. Aside from that, I am passionate about fountain pens! It started when my brother gave me a really nice pen. I enjoy studying the way they work with different inks and capillary action.