Premium Power take on a number of students and graduates throughout the year. In this series we hear from students at the end of their internship about their learning experience, what they’ll take from it and what advice they would give to engineers considering applying for a position at Premium Power. Here Alexander Helizon, who is studying for his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Dublin Institute of Technology, talks of his experience at Premium Power

Why did you choose to apply to Premium Power for your engineering internship?

I chose Premium Power after thoroughly studying the website and exploring the fields the company works in. I’m of a slightly different background (control engineering and computer architecture) and one of the decisive factors in choosing Premium Power was the fact that I knew it was going to be challenging. Work placement is all about gaining relevant experience and improving on the knowledge that you already possess. the electrical industry is a very specific one and every bit of information can turn out to be useful, anytime, therefore it’s important to explore. Explore, explore, explore. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

How did you find working at Premium Power, did you enjoy it?

I absolutely loved it. For the sheer fact that I haven’t been scanning documents or making coffee, but rather doing some actual work. What I think was also very enjoyable, personally, was the fact that I was assigned a mentor in power quality metering and dealing with ION meters. I assisted with some minor modelling for arc flash in two projects too and got a decent comparison between the two fields. It’s a good start, as you have a profound insight into what kind of data is needed for any further analysis and how it’s obtained.

What would you say were the key things you learned?

I would say from an engineering point of view, the key things that I learned included interpreting single line diagrams, basics of TCP/IP communication, understanding how data is stored in a database and how it can be accessed via SQL, gathering data using PT/CTs and their configuration through the software that we’ve used or becoming aware of any potential power quality issues that a facility might experience. The most time-consuming, yet probably the most important thing I’ve learned is troubleshooting. Engineering is all about solutions to problems that will always arise along the way. One small obstacle could take days to research and to be resolved, but I quickly came to terms that this is essentially what engineers do. They solve problems.

Another huge, vital thing is soft skills. Working in compliance with certain rules and regulations wasn’t anything new to me, but we’re not talking about mere meeting deadlines or formatting your documents – certain clients’ specs are based on international standards, which then, in turn need to be researched, reviewed and conformed with. Assisting with written reports and helping to communicate on concepts, from simple follow-up on your current project to complex engineering theories was also something I had to learn, very quickly.

How did your experience compare to the theory you are taught in college – what it is like to really get to grip with projects on the ground?

No comparison. It’s absolutely crucial to ‘taste’ the insides of the industry, be it through work placement or an external internship. College teaches you the absolute basics, which, albeit applicable to everything I’ve been doing up to date, had very little relevance per say, as all the projects I’ve been involved in were purely practical. I feel more emphasis needs to be put on the practical side of things in college – as useful as the simulations that we carry out in college are – they barely reflect real-life situations. That was the beauty of hands-on projects in Premium Power. There was a real transformer, there was real inrush current and there was a REAL problem. It was extremely beneficial for me to listen to all my colleagues, who were always helpful to counter any doubts and answer any questions that I had (and there were loads of them), making my journey in Premium Power an invaluable experience.

Has your experience changed where you plan on taking your engineering career?

Absolutely. As I mentioned above, I come from a control and computer engineering background. By getting involved in projects and giving me the opportunity to learn new things, Premium Power has changed my perception on what path my career is going to take. I feel I’m much more suited to power engineering, rather than computer science and programming after spending my placement assisting with analysing power distribution networks here in Premium Power.

What would you say to other students and graduates who are thinking of applying to work at Premium Power?

The office environment, believe it or not, is a huge learning ground. It made me cover so many topics that I wouldn’t have been familiar with before, as I heard the other engineers talking about their work. You might be sent to accompany on site – I had the pleasure of being sent to two different locations in Ireland and seeing it for myself – all the switchgears, phase cables, monitoring systems, metering equipment.. it was a priceless experience. Another thing is – don’t be afraid to ask questions. People here are very helpful and whether you feel your question might sound stupid – better to ask the way than go astray. Lastly – enjoy it. It’s an experience that will change you as a prospective engineer, you’ll leave Premium Power with an exceptional amount of knowledge, respect for other engineers and take your job seriously, because you’re treated as part of the team, your work counts too!

Describe your overall experience in three words?

Unforgettable, Educational, Fun!

To view current vacancies at Premium Power view our careers page.

View a short video of the services Premium Power provides in the area of power quality