Vitus Henning is our first Jungheinrich International Graduate. As one of the assignments of the programme, he has joined the Project Engineering team at arculus for the research and development of our autonomous mobile robot – the arculee. The initiative gives him a unique opportunity to experience the best of corporate and startup cultures. In this article, Vitus shares valuable insights about the program, his role, and his learnings thus far.
Hi Vitus. Thank you for joining this interview! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Vitus: “I am 25 years old and come from Darmstadt, a city near Frankfurt. After completing my Master’s in Robotics, Mechatronics, and Automation at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, I joined Jungheinrich as a graduate. One of my assignments is planned with the Project Engineering team at arculus, so I am working at the Munich office for the next few months.”
What is the Jungheinrich International Graduate programme? How does it work?
Vitus: “It is a two-year program. Generally, graduates get an overview of Jungheinrich, learn the organisational structure, and understand the company procedures. It also prioritises specialisation. My focus is on how research and development (R&D) works in both Jungheinrich and arculus. For others, the focal point might lie in pricing, sales, or production, for example. Lastly, the initiative heavily emphasises building a network. And we’re not just talking about connections within the organisation, but also with the current and former graduates.
The graduate programme comprises several cross-functional projects, including at least one with a team located in another country. In the programme’s second half, graduates are supposed to initiate a project with their classmates, which we then present to a big audience at Jungheinrich. We also have individual and group coaching sessions to refine our hard and soft skills. Besides these, we can also pick assignments of our choice, giving us enough room to explore.
At the end of the programme, Jungheinrich allows us to opt for the department we liked the most in these 24 months and continue the journey in a full-time role from there.”
And how does your academic background relate to your current role?
Vitus: “My current posting at arculus focuses on the research and development of the arculee, which requires some degree of technical knowledge and skills in robotics. My educational background comes in handy here.”
What was your motivation for applying for the graduate programme?
Vitus: “For me, these initiatives are generally a fantastic way to start a career after university. Therefore, I was already searching for similar opportunities when I came across Jungheinrich International Graduate Programme. What I found particularly interesting about it was the chance I would have to work with robotics. That made it a perfect combination of advanced technologies and my love for robots.”
Now tell me about arculus. What does your typical day look like here?
Vitus: “First and foremost, I wake up and get ready for work, of course (laughs). I usually arrive at the office around nine o’clock. We have a daily team meeting where we all talk about our tasks for the day. We also share important updates from the day prior and discuss solutions for any potential issues we might face when working on our assignments.
Once the meeting is over, I move on to my responsibilities. Recently, I have been contacting other departments back and forth to get insights and discuss possibilities for a new project, which means plenty of meetings. I have also been working on reviewing past results. On top of that, I get small assignments from my supervisor, like restructuring our product page on Confluence. Or if any task piques my interest, I join in supporting my co-worker(s). For instance, last week, I helped my team member troubleshoot Raspberry Pi (a single-board computer) for product development verification, also known as a testbench.
The best part of my day is between these work responsibilities: the lunch break. I enjoy it because, most of the time, all my colleagues eat lunch together in the common area, and that’s always a lot of fun. As I tick off all my tasks, I pack up and head out to explore the beautiful city of Munich.”
That sounds interesting. What has been your favourite task so far, and why?
Vitus: “I recently attended a workshop at our Gaimersheim office. One of our Senior Software Engineers, Iuri Ferreira, shared some basic knowledge about the arculee, like where and how it is used and who our customers are. I also learned the techniques to troubleshoot the robot on Linux and how to extract useful data. At the end of the workshop, I had a much better understanding of our product.”
And how do you collaborate with other team members in the development of the arculee?
Vitus: “My team is involved with the arculee Backpack, stations, and everything around them, such as the charging station or calibration tools. From time to time, we have meetings and brainstorming sessions. Lately, one colleague had a problem, and we all met the next day to solve it together. I believe discussions like this generate better ideas and solutions.”
How has your experience been so far with cross-functional collaboration and working with team members from diverse backgrounds and skill sets?
Vitus: “I love working in an international environment. I am still getting to know colleagues from different countries, but whomever I have met has inspired me in some way. And here’s a fun fact: most conversations occur around the coffee machine.
Besides these small talks, the bi-weekly sprint reviews have given me some essential insights from all the robotics departments at arculus. I have a fair idea now about who’s working on what and what they plan to do next.”
Can you tell us how the graduate programme encourages personal and professional growth?
Vitus: “With technical assignments, like the project I am working on nowadays, I am improving abilities that I can use in a full-time position in the future. I also have the opportunity to attend workshops and training classes with other graduates, where I can learn and develop leadership and management skills. This initiative will, therefore, also polish my soft skills, such as effective communication, teamwork, and decision-making.”
What are some of the new skills you have developed in a startup environment?
Vitus: “The team meetings have helped me develop critical thinking skills, and my planning has overall become more structured. I’d also add that I have become more adaptable. I think the use of SCRUM methodology at arculus plays a considerable role in fostering these competencies.”
How do you believe this graduate programme creates a synergise between Jungheinrich and arculus?
Vitus: “Post-acquisition, this is a great move to bring both companies together and learn from each other. As a graduate, this is an incredible opportunity to get familiar with both companies, their work cultures, the AMRs, and the team behind them, particularly because my specialization is in the same field.”
What kind of learnings do you expect to bring to your next posting?
Vitus: “From arculus, I will for sure take the workstyle, mindset, and perspective on the topic I am working on. My next assignment will be at Jungheinrich, so I am excited to discover how different their standpoints are.”
To conclude, do you have any advice for potential applicants?
Vitus: “If your focus is not centred around acquiring just technical expertise but also networking and gaining experience in different teams with diverse views, this programme is for you. It will allow you to explore, find the right department, and prove your abilities in various projects.”