Working during your studies can balance flawlessly with study.work.support. Two FH students share their experience working at SKIDATA.
Florian and Sandro study computer science at the FH Salzburg and work for SKIDATA. Both are combining theory and practice in an ideal way while earning their own money while they're still in school. They are participants in study.work.support., a program at the FH Salzburg which offers students the opportunity to gain relevant professional experience in their field of study while they're still in school – without having to neglect their studies. SKIDATA is one of Salzburg's 18 renowned IT-companies supporting this program for students of Information Technology and Systems Management.
Since the end of 2017, Florian and Sandro have been working for SKIDATA part-time; or, eleven hours a week. Sandro works in concept development, specifically, in the hardware research and development department (Concept Engineering Hardware R&D), where he tests new concepts and technologies. Florian works in Central Hosting, where his team manages SKIDATA's worldwide computer network for internal and customer use. His tasks include helping to update, maintain, and monitor both hardware and software. Improving functions and services or developing new ones is just as crucial of an aspect of his team's work as being vigilant troubleshooters to ensure the network functions flawlessly.
What is your current project?
Sandro: "Currently, my main project is a new technology to detect vehicles in front of a barrier. The goal is to make the solution more efficient and convenient. Previously, the asphalt had to be milled out in front of a barrier to allow for an induction loop to be inserted. To change this, I'm developing a barrier system which recognizes whether a vehicle is standing in front of the barrier. I develop and produce prototypes using open source components like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and various kinds of sensors. Before I started my studies at FH Salzburg, I trained as a mechatronics engineer, and thus, I know how to design and wire these prototypes to be weatherproof. This unique knowledge is appreciated by my colleagues – especially the software developers."
Florian: "At the moment, my job is to automate processes, which means software updates, we previously performed individually on each server, we now run simultaneously across all servers with the touch of a button. I'm already on my third project, and I always learn a lot from them."
What do you like about your work?
Florian: "I can focus on many topics independently, which helps set me apart when many topics in school are covered briefly, or not at all, and I have the chance to explore them. When I reach the edge of my knowledge base, my colleagues are there for me and help me find a solution. The team is really great. Many are very sporty. Last year I participated in the Laufchallenge, and I'm planning on participating again this year."
Sandro: "I like that I can contribute my own ideas and be creative here. We're not working on specific products, but rather we're testing and developing technical solutions for specific questions. Usually, it's about finding better solutions than what we're currently utilizing."
Would you recommend the program to other new students?
Sandro: "The program has exceeded my expectations. I was able to be more involved than I thought, and the experience goes way beyond what you can usually expect to practice during an internship. SKIDATA offered me total flexibility so that I would be able to balance study and work. It was always clear that my studies took precedence. Naturally, it is more demanding to work alongside my studies than not to, but at SKIDATA, I was able to balance them 100%. They fit together perfectly. I was very fortunate."
Florian: "Before my studies, I had already worked for another company. Comparatively, SKIDATA is notably different because I have more freedom and responsibility; being allowed to implement my own projects. Work is just more enjoyable when you can operate more freely. I learned so much in the process, much more than I expected. I wouldn't advise other students to participate in the program because of the money. Only participate if you're truly interested in working here. Though SKIDATA makes it perfectly clear that your studies come first, you still have to commit to both."
What is your next goal?
Sandro: "I'm about to finish my current project, so I'll be taking on a new challenge soon. The work is constantly growing. The next big goal is the successful completion of my studies."
Florian: "In the short term, I want to focus more on my studies. After my Bachelor's I would like to start an international project with a few people."
Sandro is 24 years old and grew up in Dornbirn in Vorarlberg. After his apprenticeship as a mechatronics engineer, he moved to Salzburg to prototype for boat construction development, all while he completed his final exams. Then, in September 2017 he began his computer science studies at the FH Salzburg. To offset the hard work, he practices martial arts and is a vocalist for a metalcore band. When he can find the time, he also enjoys paragliding.
Florian comes from St. Johann im Pongau. The 25-year-old studied mechatronics at the HTL for a year after completing secondary school, then went on to complete an apprenticeship as a mechatronics engineer at Bosch in Hallein. During his apprenticeship, he completed his final exams. After completing his apprenticeship, he worked two years for Bosch before enrolling at the FH Salzburg in September 2017, to be capable of taking on more advanced projects. His various extracurricular activities include jogging, martial arts, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding, as well as playing the piano.