Why did you choose to apply for the Graduate Programme at Demant?
Since I took a somewhat unwanted break between the first and second year of my Master’s, I thought the Graduate Programme would be perfect to refresh what I had studied and work on the areas on which I was a bit weak, without having the responsibility of applying to a very specific position in a company. Therefore, I really liked the flexibility of the programme.
Can you please describe what you did in your rotations?
I started my first rotation in April 2020. I spent one year at EPOS in Technology development where I joined a team of hardcore DSP (digital signal processing) people. Since I have a mixed background (acoustics and signal processing), my fist task involved being a bridge for the team. In fact, although I couldn’t go deep into the DSP concepts, I could understand their language and try to find the best way to measure it acoustically. After this task, I got involved in a project to explore if we could optimize the personalization of spatial audio based on morphological features of people, like the size of the ears or their angle. So, I had to design a test to see if we could evaluate the quality of spatial audio and the contribution of these features. I really liked working in the concepting phase, as it is very creative and research oriented.
In my second rotation, I was in Quality (Oticon), where I had a collection of different unrelated tasks. It was interesting because I had tasks in most of the sub areas in Quality, which is a huge department. This rotation helped me understand the type of work that I like doing (as well as the one that I don't like) and where I want to go as a professional. In Quality there is some technical work, but most of it was more on the management side and I realized that it's not something for me, but I still enjoyed experiencing how things work there and understanding the importance of the department and its reach.
On my third rotation, I went to Oticon Medical. I was there in Hardware R&D, and I had a role in audio engineering. I did an evaluation of how the audio quality of current implants for the bone anchored devices would be impacted by some changes in future generations of the sound processor. This project was very interesting because bone conduction sound with vibration works in a slightly different way than air conduction, so it was cool to have to revisit in a new context concepts and methodologies that I knew.
Now I am doing my last rotation in EPOS again in Technology development, but now as a purely audio engineering resource. I'm doing some wind noise investigations and trying to see if we can improve the performance of one of the products in windy conditions. I'm learning a lot because wind noise is something pretty new to me and it’s a tricky subject. I haven’t worked in this kind of acoustic design before and it's something I wanted to try out, so it's nice that I am able to explore this field, too.
How is working at EPOS and Oticon Medical different?
Oticon Medical and EPOS are similar from what I have seen, as they are smaller companies, and you almost know everyone. It feels cozier. I think the main difference between EPOS and in general Oticon is the pacing. Since EPOS is not a medical company, there's a lot more flexibility on how projects evolve. I think working in a faster-paced or more dynamic environment suits me better, but it’s great to have had the opportunity to experience different settings. There’s also the difference in size, and I think that also affects the way that people work. I have the impression that people in Oticon have a more defined role, while in EPOS I roles seem more fluid.
Is there a project you worked on that you are particularly proud of?
Yeah, I think it is the personalized sound project. I am very proud of the job I did there. I started the project a bit before the rest of the team, and I designed the test and the methodology that were used. Afterwards, I was also involved in the execution of the tests and result analysis. So, I'm very proud because I think I managed to do something serious and trustworthy. And at the end of it, I felt that I had really contributed to it, so it was a very good project.
Can you describe what a typical day at the office looks like?
It's very different from day to day because there are days that I spend entirely in the lab, just making measurements until I have enough data. Then maybe the next day I have to analyze all that data and see what I can take out of that, what it means for the next steps or find literature about a specific topic. In general, it's very dependent on the project and the stage of the project.
Do you work mainly alone or in a team?
In general, I've mostly worked on my own, but for example, for this last rotation, I'm working on my own because it's not a project on itself. I'm the one driving the research and performing the task, but I have a lot of people around that I can ask for support in different areas. And even if I'm working alone, there's a feeling of belonging to the team.
In previous rotations I have been a little bit more on my own. But I think depending on the task sometimes it's difficult to really put you in a team, at least from what I see in the Engineering track. It may also be because of how I am and what I've told my managers that I would like. I like working in teams, but I know that I can do it on my own.
What are your greatest learnings from the graduate programme?
The biggest learning? Well, I would say that the biggest thing I'm taking out of the program is to see that I can adapt to new situations and learn quickly. I've also realized that I like a little bit more hands on and technical work. I’ve understood that I don't necessarily want to be an expert in something very specific, and that I'd rather have enough knowledge about some areas. I'm a curious person by nature, so if I'm talking with someone from another department, I like to know what they are talking about and be able to understand up to some extent. I have also learned what I don't like, and this has been a huge learning, because you don't always have the chance of trying something that you may not like at all. So, it was very eye opening to be able to see both the roles and tasks that I like, and the ones I don’t. And I think it is important because you need to find what you enjoy doing and be clear about what direction you want to pursue. And in that sense, the program has helped a lot.
Would you recommend the programme? If yes, why?
I would definitely recommend the programme if you are someone that either doesn’t have a clear idea on what you want to do, or if you really want to experiment a bit before really settling on a definite job position. I think that is a big plus of the programme. Another big plus that I would say comes with the programme is that sometimes you have the privilege to get involved in some projects that if you had entered the company as a regular full-time employee maybe it would've taken five years before being able to join. The programme also helps to see how the same role is done in different companies. Then again, if you have a very clear idea on what you want to do, or on what role you would like to perform, then it makes no sense to do it because the whole idea of this is exploration. The recommendation goes if you're curious about exploring.
Jorge Bravo Diaz