Hey Rianne! You are one of the graduates of the Dual Learning Program at Evonik. Why did you choose for the program and how did you manage to get into it?
I opted for dual learning because I already had a strong chemical background. I also gained a good basis in measurement and control techniques in my previous schoolyears. I also found out that I learn more easily when there is the possibility to look at it in practice. When I asked the school for more information about the option chemical process techniques, they advised me to do the dual course. This confirmed my choice. At the start of the school year, a fair was organised at which all companies with an internship for a dual student were present. There I became acquainted with Evonik Antwerpen and did a job interview. After a week I was told that I could do my internship at Evonik.
Can you tell us something about structure of the program? What makes it special, how does it differ from a “normal” study?
The most striking difference with the regular study is the amount of internship. In the dual course there are 15 weeks internship, in the classic course there are only 10 weeks. So more is expected to do in self-study. This self-study is supported by assignments you have to make during the internship. As a student you will quickly learn to link theory to practice. In the classic course you learn all theory at school and the internship is a good introduction to the job and working in shift.
What did you like best during your time in the program? What is your most exciting memory?
I'm glad my team gave me the chance to try a lot. I've even been allowed to work with breathing air in a gas tight suit once. For the first time, that's quite an experience. I also had the opportunity to some repair work, such as fixing a blind flange. I also immediately noticed the cooperation in a positive way. Everyone has to be able to rely on each other in order for the work to run smoothly. It was nice to be part of the team in such a short period of time anyway! It was also a great honour to be asked by Evonik for an interview with the Alderman for Education in Antwerp, during our recent big open day of chemistry.
That sounds great! But let’s be honest: Where there any obstacles that you had to overcome? If yes, how did you do it?
Of course, there were some obstacles. In the beginning I was a bit afraid that I would have to prove myself as a woman. Fortunately, this was not the case at all. Linking theory to practice in the beginning was also more difficult than expected. At school the teachers look at each device separately. In practice there are often devices coupled together or a variant of a device is used. After an explanation from one of the operators and analyzing the situation, I always came up with a solution.
As a graduate who now works at Evonik, how important are career opportunities to you?
For me, the ability to progress to a higher position is important. I’ve challenged myself from an early age to know and be able to do more. Getting a higher position is then a confirmation that I have learned enough. If there is no possibility to achieve more, I would quickly look for another challenge.
How does your typical workday at Evonik look like?
A day at the Oxeno-plant starts with reading the shift book. There you can find all the information about the past days. The important mails that have arrived will also be added here, so everyone will be up to date. Then the work will be distributed. One of the operators works in the lab and the others distribute the inspection tours. The person in the lab takes the samples and, at the weekend or at night, he or she does the analyses of the samples. On weekdays, you handle the samples to the lab technicians. If you are going to do an inspection tour, you fill in the important values on the record sheet. During this tour, you also check everything for leaks. It is also expected that a value deviating from other days will be reported. Each team is also responsible for an installation part that needs to be kept clean. In this way it is safer and leaks are more noticeable. Regular safety meetings are also held at which everyone can comment or suggest improvements.