Starting a Career as a Woman in STEM at ACONEXT

Our intern Burcin Kaya talks to us about her career, her love for technology, why she chose ACONEXT and how we encourage her to quench her ever-growing thirst for knowledge and offer her new development opportunities each day.

ACONEXT:
Burcin, tell us, how long have you been with us, at which site, and in which area you are working exactly.

 

Burcin Kaya: I’ve been working for ACONEXT in Fellbach near Stuttgart for almost five months now as an intern in the iDrive Performance department. I am currently working at Model Based Engineering.

What exactly are your tasks and what does a typical working day look like?

 

 

My job is to think about the product development. Implementing and deriving desired changes, i.e. making technical drawings. Simultaneously, I document the information on the projects and prepare presentations and present them to my colleagues.

The work atmosphere [...] is characterized by great appreciation and respect for all employees - regardless of age or gender.
Burcin Kaya

What do you find particularly exciting about model-based engineering?

That you can realize your own ideas, implement and visualize them in 3D. It is incredibly exciting to design and develop a component yourself. A fully realized process like this fills you with pride. It is also very exciting to observe the entire development of the component, how some components are assembled and what functions they perform.

Where does your affinity for technology come from?

 

I think it’s a pass-down from father to daughter. Since I was a child, I’ve only been involved in removing and attaching components in cars. Even at school, I was more interested in subjects like math, physics, biology, chemistry, and sports. During my time at secondary school, I even took the elective subject “Technology” instead of “MUM”, where we also had to make technical drawings. I was also very interested in this at the time, which helped my passion for technology to grow. “Mum,” which means home economics, i.e. cooking, sewing, etc., didn’t interest me at all, even though most of the girls took that subject.

How did you find ACONEXT?

 

During my vocational training as a technical product designer specializing in design and development with a focus on mechanical engineering at the media academy here in Stuttgart, I was looking for an internship in a familiar and friendly environment where I could learn a lot of new things at the same time.

Why did you choose ACONEXT, as there are numerous well-known employers with an excellent reputation in the Stuttgart area that you could have joined?

 

 

I chose ACONEXT because I was immediately impressed by the areas that the company operates in. Even as a small child, I followed the development of the automotive industry with great interest. Then I saw the website presentation and the job description, which finally encouraged me in my choice, so I said to myself: “This is the company! That’s where I want to go.” In addition, the first impression I had of ACONEXT differed from other companies: An excellent working atmosphere, individual career development and much more.

Was this impression confirmed during the application process?

Even the first phone call was very pleasant, better than I had expected. All topics were explained to me in detail, and I was able to ask questions. Above all, I was relieved from my “default fear” of working on the job, or rather of the growing responsibility that I somehow had at the time. Of course, I was told that a lot happens here at high speed, that you must bring a lot of knowledge, motivation, ambition and, most importantly, personal responsibility. All in all, it was very pleasant, and I felt very much at ease right from the start.

What expectations did you have for your internship?

 

Perhaps I’ll start with my previous experience: Due to my technical affinity, I had been looking forward to the practical application of the knowledge I had learned at school for some time. I had previously completed a 6-month internship at an architecture office, where I also learned a lot. However, due to the previous company’s focus on architecture, I couldn’t put my technical knowledge into practice as much as I would have liked.

How was ACONEXT different in this regard?

 

ACONEXT not only met, but exceeded my expectations and experience in comparison to my previous employer. In addition to the team-oriented atmosphere and flat hierarchies, I was offered exciting projects, such as the development of a battery shaker device. The technical knowledge I gained during my school education is constantly being refreshed and expanded through new and varied projects.

So, it’s a steep learning curve?

Yes, but not just that. The working atmosphere in the company is characterized by great appreciation and respect for all employees – regardless of age or gender. I think that’s what I value most in ACONEXT: Respect and camaraderie.

And, if something doesn’t work or if I get stuck, there is quick support from colleagues and supervisors. Uncertainties and questions are always taken seriously and answered as best as possible. My own opinion and any suggestions for improvement are always considered and are also implemented after being discussed with colleagues.  Overall, ACONEXT is an employer that I can highly recommend.

What do you wish for yourself regarding your professional future?

 

For my professional future, I hope that I continue to have many successful experiences and that I can draw a lot more lessons from ACONEXT. And that I can continue to work for the company as a design engineer in the Model Based Engineering department after my internship.

One final question Burcin, is there anything you would like to pass on to girls and young women with an affinity for technology?

 

 

Never give up! That’s the be-all and end-all. It doesn’t matter whether you are surrounded by men or have very little to do with members of your own gender. Every young woman, every girl should live and fulfill her own goals and dreams, go her own way, pursue her own interests. Because that’s what has turned me into who I am today. I followed my own path and pursued my goals very independently from my circle of friends.

The interview for ACONEXT was led by Magdalena Zalewski

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