José Pedro da Costa Nunes from Portugal completed his Master studies in Engineering and industrial management and spent 6 months doing an internship as an Industrial engineer in Nitra, Slovakia. We met up with Pedro at the end of his internship just before he got on a flight back to Portugal to ask him how he found his traineeship in Nitra as an Industrial Engineer. As well as the video interview link below (or click on the picture) we also have a full written interview. Now that Pedro has finished, we wish him every bit of success in the future.
How has your story started, why did you decide to take an Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia?
Well I was looking for an experience outside my country and eventually I stumbled upon Placement Slovakia and it seemed to provide everything I wanted: I was going to work in my area, in another country and culture. Plus, the location in the center of Europe makes it a perfect opportunity to visit other countries!
Can you tell us something about your work responsibilities?
I was an Industrial Engineer trainee in a manufacturing company, and I had to support the other functions and also to study and develop a project.
What did you learn/improve at the most during your traineeship?
I think I really improved my communication skills, I notice a great difference since the beginning of my internship. I also developed some skills related to my job and how to apply them in a real context.
Were your expectations met?
Yes, I managed to do and to learn almost everything I wished before starting.
Did you have any task you had no idea how to proceed with? If so, how did you solve it?
Not really, I always had the support of my supervisor, so if I ever had a doubt (pratically always related to the language barrier) he would help me.
How did you find out our program and how do you evaluate our assistance during your period here?
I heard about Placement Slovakia through my university, and as for the assistance I can say that I always had someone to support me everytime I needed it, so it was very very good.
Do you have any suggestions of improvements to our program?
Make sure you talk with the supervisors as much as you can to know what the trainees are doing and stay involved.
How do you evaluate life in Slovakia?
Before coming, I thought it would be very different, knowing Slovakia is a country far from Portugal, but really the cultural differences aren't that big, although they exist. Overall, I would say life in Slovakia is enjoyable, with a lot of different opportunities and things to try.
What did you find as the most different from Portugal?
The work ethics, in Portugal you are almost frown upon if you don't do extra hours after work, unpaid of course, which I strongly disagree. Also, people in services in Slovakia aren't as friendly, for example in bars or restaurants.
What did you like the best here in Slovakia?
I met so many people, from all over the world, not only Slovaks, which was quite a surprise to me. Also, the natural beauty that exists in the country is really out of this world. I will definitely go back to hike the High Tatras Mountain again at some point!
Did you have any work/life related difficulties during your stay in Slovakia? If so, how did you solve them?
Strangely enough, the first thing I can think of straight away is the lack of washing machines at my home which was very bothersome. The other trainees in Bratislava had washing machines in their flats but I had to use the local launderette in Nitra.
Did you have time to travel and explore Slovakia and neighbouring countries? Which places did you visit and what left biggest impact on you?
I visited all the countries around Slovakia (except Ukraine) which was fantastic, getting to know all these places and all these cultures. But my favourite place was without a doubt the mountains in Slovakia.
Which moment of your stay in Slovakia is the most memorable for you?
If you've read this interview I think you can already guess, but I'm going to say (again) when I went hiking to High Tatras. I wasn't expecting to find such a natural, beautiful place when I decided to go to Slovakia so it was a very good surprise. Plus I was with some good friends which I also met in Slovakia so it was a fantastic experience overall and I'm grateful for the opportunity.
What are your next plans?
I want to find a job in my area in Portugal for now, I still don't know exactly where in the future though. Who knows, maybe I will go back to Slovakia!
Is there anything you would like to say to students deciding whether an internship in Slovakia is a good idea?
If you are looking to improve all your soft skills, as well as get experience in a job in your specified area then I think this is a really good choice because you will get that and much more.