As I make my move to France, for my second year at École Polytechnique, I can’t help but wonder how a year has passed by so quickly.
I am penning my thoughts by way of this Blogpost as a means of introducing my brand new life to anyone who is interested in pursuing an EIT InnoEnergy Master degree.
Moving to Stockholm
I pursued my first year of the Master in Renewable Energy, at KTH, Stockholm. To give a brief background, I am from Singapore and have never experienced living in a country where sustainability forms the crux of day to day life. The main reason I chose KTH to be my first year, was to learn from one of the best sustainable countries.
Moving from a tropical country, where winters were a warm 28C, to a sub-Arctic country like Sweden, was exciting! I learnt my lesson pretty quick: Always carry a winter jacket, you never know when the mercury is going to drop! As I started experiencing what Autumn truly looks like, I was also experiencing the immense diversity among my colleagues. I can, in a way relate it to the colours of autumn. Each person brought with them a unique cultural personality, each with their own experiences and life lessons. However, together we had strengths and weaknesses, complimenting each other, which made it as beautiful as the autumns in Sweden! We learnt from each other, as much as we taught each other.
Choosing the right opportunity
Having worked for 3 years prior to pursuing my Master’s, I was excited to tap into all the opportunities that were presented to me, outside of the InnoEnergy Master’s programme. I was taking up unpaid internships, extra-curricular activities and honestly did not have the heart to say “NO” to any opportunity. This, however, did not help me in the long term. While some projects looked great on paper, they did not turn out to be well managed practically. I realised it is of utmost importance to research well into a topic, get feedback and then say “YES” to an opportunity. A well planned and executed project looks way better on the resume than multiple average projects, which do not have any impact in the long term.
The right team
With an academic degree come the academic projects. Over the course of a year, I made a conscious decision to work with different groups of people for different projects. This helped me immensely, as the work ethics of a person cannot be gauged from a single meeting. A good friend can sometimes be an average team-mate and vice-versa. Working with different groups of people helped me identify the key features I need to look in a person for finding the right mix for a team. It is important to have complementary skills among the team-mates, and this knowledge only comes by experimenting, while you are still in university.
Over the course of a year, whenever I required assistance for job search, project interviews, the once concept that helped me survive was: “I know someone who knows someone”. Networking has been my soul rescuer in these terms. InnoEnergy has a vast network of professionals, scholars and students that are diverse in terms of culture and experience. By attending events, webinars and being “visible” at these events, helped expand my network of people interested in energy transition and sustainability. You never know when someone will be of utmost help for you, hence go out there, make the first move to talk and start expanding your network of like-minded energy transition enthusiasts! My advice would be to start with InnoEnergy CommUnity platform to meet your fellow InnoEnergy Master School students!
EIT InnoEnergy has several events organised over the span of a year, often at different locations. There were times when I moved from a location with -15oC to a location with +15oC. Never have I experienced a 30 degree temperature difference within a 4 hour flight span. I have witnessed the northern lights, seen the midnight sun and experienced 12 hours of non-stop street party. Europe is an immense pot of mixed cultures, climate and experiences. Hence my only suggestion here would be to have an open mind and absorb as much as you can!
It is of course very difficult to summarise all my experiences within one Blogpost, but I have presented my highlights here, which were the most eye-opening for me. I am looking forward to another year of getting immersed in different cultures and taking away key life lessons so stay tuned for my next post!
Malavika Venugopal, Master in Renewable Energy