Oana-Iuliana Popescu, software developer in the Algorithms department at Corporate Research & Technology, answers our questions about joining ZEISS, about what inspires her and about the challenges she faces.
Oana, you’ve been working at ZEISS for about a year now. Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?
Six years ago, I left Romania to come to Germany, and I studied Media Informatics at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Two weeks after earning my Bachelor’s degree, I joined ZEISS in Jena as an intern at Corporate Research & Technology. After a three-month internship at the Design & Concepts department, I worked there for another year as a student trainee, and two months ago I was offered my first permanent role at the Algorithms department at Corporate Research & Technology.
How did you hear about ZEISS and what did you already know about the company?
In Romania we have a saying: “it works zeiss” – that means it works perfectly. That’s how I knew about ZEISS before I started looking for a full-time job. One day I came across a vacancy for an intern on LinkedIn. While studying for my Bachelor’s degree I focused on usability and the user experience, which made the internship a perfect fit for me.
Why did you choose ZEISS, what were the first few months like and what did you expect?
After graduation, I was sure that I wanted to stay in Germany and jump on the career ladder. I chose ZEISS because I figured that a big international company could offer a wide range of roles and challenges. I always wanted to conduct research and develop products – and that’s something you can do very well at ZEISS. I was very impressed that ZEISS showed an interest in keeping me close to the company through a special intern relationship program. This program allows interns across the ZEISS Group to build up a network and it opens doors to other job opportunities at the company. What’s more, ZEISS has enabled me to continue studying by temporarily allowing me to reduce my hours. I’d like to learn even more and do a Master’s at the Bauhaus University.
Can you briefly tell us about how the past few months were for you in the Algorithms department at Corporate Research & Technology. What does your job involve, what are your duties and what projects are you currently working on?
After spending the past year working on software for data exchange in the development process, I’ve realized that I’d like to go down a different path. As I’ve always been interested in cognitive systems, I got the chance to switch to the Machine Learning team at the Algorithms department and develop my skills there. This change proved to be no problem at all. I’m currently learning the ropes in this new area. I still have a ways to go but I’m very much looking forward to using machine learning to develop innovations that really improve people’s lives.
What inspires you in your work at ZEISS? What do you find particularly exciting about your job?
It’s always a great feeling to work in an area where you can have an impact on a new high-tech era right from the get-go. It’s cool to be able to help develop technologies in the different areas.
Do you face any particular challenges in your job – if so, what are they?
At the moment, it’s quite a challenge for me to balance my studies in Weimar with my work in Jena. What’s more, in both cases I have to tackle new topics, which means a lot of preparation work. I’m very pleased that ZEISS lends me its support wherever it can.
Would someone with a different background be able to do your job? What qualities are needed in your line of work?
The world of IT is changing almost every day; you simply have to keep up, whether you’ve been in it for a while or are an industry newcomer. The most important qualities are a love of learning, creativity, initiative and perseverance. It’s just as vital to have a great interest in the topic and be curious enough to want to understand everything.
Why should someone like you want to work at ZEISS?
For someone who wants to explore new topics and create new solutions and products for customers, ZEISS is the perfect place to work. Challenges are what motivate me. I just love trying to find solutions to tricky problems.
What advice would you give to the young you?
Get to know the world of work early on through internships and student traineeships. It’s a great way to see how the knowledge you’ve acquired during your studies can be applied later on in life. I’d also tell the young me to be bolder. Working so closely with the user to develop software during my role as a student trainee was a very valuable experience that enabled me to develop important, special skills. Nevertheless, I’d still tell myself to be braver and make decisions, such as the one to switch departments, earlier on.
Thank you very much for speaking to us, Oana!