How to balance work, academic responsibilities, and hobbies? It’s a question often asked by many young individuals who aspire to dedicate themselves to their careers but don’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the world. In our quest for answers, we reached out to our colleague, Ognjen, a student at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, who has been on an internship at ARS for a year and a half, gradually transforming his passion for firmware development into a successful career.
Read on to discover Ognjen’s inspiring narrative, which not only provides a solution to this significant question but also serves as a motivating example for all young people contemplating the outset of their careers and internships.
1. Ognjen, you’re currently in your fourth year of studies at FTN, majoring in Computer Engineering and Computer Communications, and you’ve been interning at ARS for a year and a half. Can you tell us about your internship and your responsibilities? Please share your beginnings.
My internship began with an in-house project where I honed my skills, and the project’s current iteration started when I joined the internship. My journey as a firmware engineer intern has been ongoing for a year and a half, which is a relatively extended period for an internship. As time has passed, I’ve felt myself growing as an engineer alongside the project I’m involved in. Consequently, the nature of my internship has evolved over time.
At the very beginning, I had no prior knowledge of embedded systems development. I was armed only with a grasp of the C programming language and a strong desire to extend my learning beyond the confines of the classroom and dive into the industry as soon as possible. From day one, I embarked on a gradual journey of acquainting myself with a multitude of project-related technologies, all under the guidance and direction of my mentor. Denis, thank you for your invaluable support – I couldn’t have done it without you!
In terms of the software technologies I utilize for development, I can highlight, for instance, the Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) we employ in our project, platform-agnostic drivers, advanced C programming, Git, communication protocols with peripherals, Python, Bluetooth Low Energy, and more. Of course, I don’t shy away from hardware either, which means I have a basic understanding of reading schematics and operating laboratory equipment. While I may not be a soldering expert, I do know how to connect two wires when needed!
Currently, I would describe my internship more as a part-time job. This entails a fixed number of hours of engagement per week. I have complete flexibility when it comes to my work schedule, as I can work whenever I want, which is invaluable in helping me manage my academic obligations. Of course, I’m a regular attendee at several project-related meetings each week, and I’m always available on chat in case any team member requires my assistance. Furthermore, the company doesn’t exert any pressure on me to abandon my studies, unlike many other companies do with their interns. On the contrary, working at ARS has made it much easier for me to pass numerous courses because I’ve been exposed to their topics either at my workplace or through advice and consultations with my fantastic colleagues, who are always willing to help.
2. Your example demonstrates that it’s possible to balance both studies and a job, as well as enjoy a wonderful hobby. What are the things you enjoy?
The first of the two things I enjoy are adventurous travels, during which I embark with just a backpack. This entails traveling to a different country, exploring a city or region extensively on foot and using public transportation, and immersing myself in the daily life and culture of the people living there.
The second, more everyday thing I take pleasure in is weight training at the gym. I started this in my teenage years to improve my physical appearance by adding muscle mass. I continue to engage in this as an amateur, but for different, more intelligent reasons such as maintaining good health, building strength and enhancing body functionality.
3. Do you find any similarities between your chosen profession and your hobbies? How do your hobbies help you in your responsibilities?
I believe that a successful adventure requires a certain amount of outlining the main points and goals of the journey, as well as the skill of improvisation when dealing with details, even when things in reality don’t go exactly as planned. Optimism and the overall mood of the group are crucial throughout. When it comes to success in training, I think that perseverance is the most crucial factor. Embracing the understanding that progress doesn’t happen overnight is essential, as significant improvements demand consistent effort day by day. If things aren’t going well, it’s crucial to set aside ego regarding the amount of weight and reconsider whether it’s necessary to adopt a new strategy that will bring more progress. I believe that all of the previously mentioned aspects are necessary for a successful project as well as a career.
From a work perspective, travels primarily help me return with a sense of rejuvenation and freshness for my tasks. They serve as a reliable method to physically and digitally distance myself from academic and work obligations. There’s no sense, nor a way, to carry a laptop and related hardware in my backpack. As for my training routine, evening workouts are a part of my daily life, as they offer the well-known benefits of regular physical activity.
4. Where have you been, and which destinations have left a lasting impression on you and why? And please, tell us where you’re heading next.
So far, I’ve visited the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and Romania, with just a backpack. Additionally, I’ve explored several other countries with standard luggage. I’ve hung a world map in my living room, and I won’t cease my travels until I’ve checked off every country.
My next planned destination is a birthday trip to Rome in January, since it’s slightly warmer there. I embark on this adventure, as I have with most of the previous ones, with my main accomplice, my partner in crime, my girlfriend.
5. What advice would you give to your peers?
I’ve noticed that many of my peers are hesitant to start internships before finishing their studies, fearing that they won’t have time for their academic responsibilities or anything else. Those who consciously choose to wait until the end of their studies often don’t allocate enough time for personal projects aimed at learning and self-improvement. I believe this shouldn’t be the case because everything is achievable with good organization and a supportive company.