This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)
Lei Zhang, Software Project Manager: “Facing different questions leads to finding multifaceted solutions.”
I joined Continental in 2012 and consider myself lucky to have been part of the first trainee program for Software Project Managers. Being a senior trainee, I hope I will be able to answer questions that might confuse you.
Trainee programs last up to two years. The company provides tutors and gives you the opportunity to go abroad. The concept of job rotation also gives you the chance to work with colleagues from different regions. When I started my trainee program, I had already made plans for my future career. My general idea is to gain knowledge and skills in different departments for three to five years. Afterwards, I will then be able to apply them to my professional life in project or career management. The trainee program at Continental suited my plans really well and helped me to make the first steps into the right direction.
You learn a lot in two years. In China, I went through an introduction period first. Experienced senior staff members introduce the new trainees to the industry and provide the basic knowledge they need to have about project development. Questions they addressed included, for example: What are differences between different types of gearboxes? What is the basic structure of the used controlling software? During this time, I got to know some of the colleagues I continued to work with during my training. Hence, I was integrated into my team gradually. After the introduction period in China, I had the chance to go to South Korea for two months. This was an amazing opportunity because they are very experienced when it comes to their gearbox controlling unit project. The tutor who was assigned to me helped me understand the development strategies and the general business processes in South Korea, which was very helpful.
In the first half of 2013, I stayed in Nurnberg, Germany for six months. There I worked on a Research & Development project. I started out as a regular contributor but later on I became the project leader. The senior project manager who was my tutor supported and taught me more about the gearbox controlling software. After these six months I traveled back to China. In China I participated in another Research & Development project. I finished this project at the end of 2013. At the same time, this also meant the end of my trainee program. I was then relocated to my current position.
A trainee program not only strengthens your professional skills but also gives you the opportunity to discover and use your potential talent. When I started working on my first Research & Development project in South Korea, for example, I did not yet know my way around all the software parts. However, I worked hard and did not give up. In the end, I was able to create software architecture. I am happy and proud that this project has been very successful. At the moment, we are applying for a patent for the software architecture!