My Full Time Job Within An Internship Timespan

How I found a family in an unexpected place within a miniature timespan.

Posted by Jet on August 26, 2020 · 19 mins read


The year is 2020, the month is January. Coronavirus (ever heard of it?) was in its budding stage of a world stopping pandemic, within 3 months, it would make waves across the globe. It stoped almost all forms of travel, kept people cooped up in homes, displayed to the world that humans aren’t as smart as we make ourselves to be, made Dalgona coffee famous, and TikTok an international commodity. Within 6 months, people were accepting wearing masks everywhere as a new norm, and social distancing was the inevitable standard of living, TikTok was still an international commodity, at risk of being sold to the Americans because of an orange-headed blur-case of a man.

One high-potential, far reaching, world influencing spiky boi.

And then there was me, a fresh graduate, in the budding stage of his career. Unlike the coronavirus, I had no capacity to influence the world in that manner, and I didn’t understand TikTok. I was, like everyone else, a victim of the indirect effects of the virus. But I also was a victim of one more thing; I was unemployed, jobless, and missing a heading.

How to be famous during a pandemic: step one.

The Downfall - The Gradual Chipping Away of My Dreams

If you didn’t already know me when reading this, you’ll have to know that research into new cutting edge fields of robotics and aviation has been one of my long term goals. Now, fresh out of university, it felt like I could finally start making meaningful steps towards starting this goal. This was, as many research students will tell you, a bad idea. It is usually wiser to start making moves towards a postgraduate programme before you even finish your undergraduate programme, because postgraduate programmes can take a lot of time.

After bumbling around my house enjoying my newfound freedom for the better part of 2 weeks, I started making moves towards some PhD applications. This was met with a lot of application paywalls, test requirements, research proposal submissions, and a lot of jargon that made the whole process very intimidating. Furthermore, the field in which I wanted to specialize in wasn’t very large, which made it even harder to find places where I could find a position. This ultimately led to me applying to positions I could apply to for free (paying for tens of applications at several hundred ringgit each didn’t make sense at the time), as well as emailing any and all possible postgraduate supervisors. Unfortunately, three months of this on an almost daily basis proved to be very unfruitful, with nay a reply or response from any university or professors (did I mention a pandemic?).

It was at this point where I started making presumptions that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t God-willed to pursue what I’ve wanted to pursue for so long. Y’know, not everyone gets to do what they want to do right? People eventually plateau out in life, and that’s OK. It took time to get off my high chair feeling of being able to conquer anything, and it was also crushing. It’s pretty fair to say that at this point in time, I gave up. Tucking my tail between my legs, I started looking for jobs, perhaps I could pursue a PhD some other time in the future, perhaps I’ll like my job so much I’ll be satisfied where I am.

Anyone who’s my age and who has graduated in the same timespan will tell you that finding for a job in the midst of a global pandemic is hard. Similarly to how I applied to PhD positions, I applied to well over 40 jobs within Malaysia as well as Singapore, with many of them sending me automated emails notifying me that I am not what they are looking for. This ultimately ended up putting my self esteem even lower in the dumps. And then I did the thing that most of us are usually afraid to do: I started asking seniors and friends if their companies were looking for fresh graduate engineers.

A Career Starts Taking Shape, Sort Of

If I have a list of people to thank for getting through the first half of 2020, it would be Joel, a high school friend. Through him, I landed a job at Swisslog Malaysia, who’s a member company of the KUKA group. I won’t bore you with what exactly it is they do, as that answer is just a Google search away. But essentially what they were looking for was a Design Engineer.

What Swisslog does: smart warehouse automation systems.

The job interview I had was a very interesting one. It started with a face-to-face interview with Michael, who’s the head of the Design Team. Somewhere in the one hour interview, the 3D & Animation Team head - Liew, showed up. And then eventually, Alex, who’s in Malaysia temporarily from Germany ended up in the room. The cause all this commotion was because for some reason, even though I applied as a Design Engineer, these people saw the potential in me to be a Simulation Engineer. That would’ve been fine for most other companies, and things would have gone along swimmingly. The only caveat with Swisslog was that at that time, it did not have a Simulation Team yet. It’s all a bit intriguing to be but for some odd reason, these three men (who’ve been at the company for a combined total of more than 25 years), saw a fresh graduate having enough potential to govern putting in the resources and effort into starting a new team, within the company itself.

Demo3D software for simulating warehouse systems.

I’ll digress from the actual interview itself, but I have to give special thanks to Alex. During the interview, he personally showed to me the expected job scope and description through actual viewing of what he does on a day-to-day basis - which consisted of a lot of code, coffee, and banging your head against the table. As someone who loves software engineering, this seemed like a wonderful job scope. And thus the story of how I got my first full time job.

The Job Itself

My first day was on May 18th. The job itself wasn’t hard; it was frustrating. Nay, it was actually infuriating, but only at first. Given that I was thrust into a brand new team, there was actually no training framework in place, and there was a lot of self-learning to do. This is all fine and dandy until you realize that the software framework I was using, Demo3D/Emulate3D, had an almost zero-to-non level of documentation, and no active user base, so Google was mostly not an available learning resources (think of learning how to build a 3000-piece Lego model without the manual). That, plus the fact that in my team, I was the one with the most programming background, meant that I mostly only had myself to rely on when encountered with situations where things were more like:

Help Me!


“The greatest gift life has to offer is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.” - T. Roosevelt .

If there was one place in which I can leverage what I have to make any form of impact, I will. And given that this is kind of literally my job, I still did it to the best of my abilities. Sure, there were times where I slacked off (writing-a-script-so-my-Microsoft-Teams-will-never-be-in-Away-status-so-I-can-be-away-for-some-time-while-I-was-working-from-home-due-to-the-*ahem*-pandemic). But I still tried to meet whatever targets I was given, and then give at least 10% more.

But I suppose that’s all the job was, learning, sharing, implementing, repeat. Most jobs are like that, but what actually inspired the writing of this post is the unexpected package that came with the job.

The motivation.

One of the many sharing sessions we had.

The Fam (Or at least I consider them to be)

Throughout my stay at Swisslog Malaysia, I can very confidently say that I have encountered the healthiest, friendliest, most accomodating colleagues that I never expected to have. Among the horror stories I hear of office drama and boss feuds, mine was practically the heaven-on-earth equivalent of office and work culture. I suppose it’s also a benefit that most of us are considered to be fairly young in our careers, but that’s far from likely to be the reason.

Over many lunches, everyone was warm and welcoming, some even going out of their way for me - looking at you Swee and Liew. I would describe myself as a lot more of an introvert, so it definitely took some time for me to open up and be receptive to them. And I honestly wished I’d done it sooner. Board game nights were fun and there was no sense of competition, which is a stark contrast to what I was so accustomed to in uni. Because of them, the notion of going to work every morning wasn’t such a chore anymore, knowing that I had people I could interact with comfortable outside the scope of my house (pandemic).

All Good Things Come To Pass

Regrettably fortunately or unfortunately (I don’t know where to put my feelings about this), one month into my job, I got a conditional offer for a postgraduate position at Coventry University (this was after several back and forths but I digress, maybe I’ll write about it another time). This meant the sudden full stop to what I originally had accepted as my career path, and I had 2 months of stay left at Swisslog Malaysia.

Usually, when employees leave a company after the first few months, their employers would be upset, or so I’ve heard. But surprisingly, everyone at Swisslog Malaysia was exceedingly supportive of my sudden derailing. The higher up the staff position, the more support they showed. Additionally, everyone just seemed to get more and more accomodating, which is honestly really touching. In a way, the people at Swisslog restored my faith in humanity after a 4 month hiatus of being jobless.

And so, in the following 2 months, I started conveying as much knowledge as I could towards my team, and also trying my best to contribute as much as I can. Time really flies when you’re having fun, and 2 months kind of seemed like 2 weeks if I think about it. And I guess that’s all I have to say about Swisslog as a company. I loved it. Every second of it. Even if I groan about going to work almost everyday.

Personal Notes to The People That Matter

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely one of the people in the below list, have a look:

  • To Swee: Hands down, among my sample size of 2 other bosses and among all the stories I’ve heard, you’re one of the best superiors any employee can wish to have. You micromanage somewhat and yet are very flexible with our time as long as our deliverables are delivered (my favourite style of work). Throughout my three months I believe that we have both grown in our skillsets far beyond what we thought was capable within the available time span. You may feel like you’re lacking in the technical field, but if I believe that you have the capability in you to excel at what you do, you should to, and I am sure that Alex will share this sentiment. I won’t even say all the best, I know you’ll be the best. :)

This will stay with me for as long as I am able to keep it.

  • To Liew: Whenever you are in doubt as to whether your work actually contributes to the future, just know that the simulation team of Swisslog Malaysia would not have happened without a large amount of your help. You are supportive, fun, and very understanding. Your children are going to grow up with an excellent father, and I only wish I had more time to be under your wing. I wish you all the best in your future undertakings, and I hope you find what you’re looking for. :)

  • To Andy, Handrik, Kar Boon, Jeffrey: For the most part, you guys feel like the elder brothers I never had, supportive of all the dumb shenanigans I do, but wise enough to blame me for all of it. Thanks for the advice I never knew I needed - life, work, career, and even about places to go in the UK; AND BOARD GAMES. I’ll see you guys when I see you. I still think that the carbon fibre wallet is too damn thick.

Damn leng zai.

  • To Milly, Jennifer, Miki: First off, sorry I said that you were 9 years older than me, or any additional burns I’ve thrown at you. I guess when Jennifer stated that she’s more like a sister than an *oof* Nanny *oof*, I felt that. And I guess I should, I have a sister in the UK, and all that driving around and silent watching over my back really brought back feelings of what it was like when she was still in Malaysia. I guess now that I’ll be going to the UK, being with my sister will end up feeling like I have the two of you around. Thank you for everything, including the planning of my farewell dinner, and I wish you nothing but the best.

  • To Muhsin, Jing Wei: I’ve never had much time to interact with the two of you. But in that brief amount of time, I’ve seen what you’re both capable of, and I am confident you’ll be able to bring yourselves and the team far. I apologize if any of the training I’ve given is confusing and/or not in-depth enough, you’re always welcomed to ask me if you have any more questions, and I’ll respond whenever I can. That aside, Godspeed, and be good to Swee. :P

  • To Alex: We’ve spoken face-to-face exactly once. And the number of interactions we’ve had over Microsoft Teams is possibly countable within 50 times. However, I really did wish we had more time together, I’d love to work on a project with you and observe the ways in which you navigate the maze that is Demo3D, and life in general. It really is a tad bittersweet not being able to know you more. I guess I’ll see you when I see you. ;)

The two soon-to-be pioneers of the Swisslog Malaysia Simulation Team.

There are a lot more people of whom I’d like to thank, but if I do that then this list would be much longer than what it already is. Just know that if I’ve never mentioned you, it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten you.

Finally, obligatory group photo:

From left top row: Jeffrey, Kar Boon, Handrik; From left bottom row: Miki, Swee, me, Liew, Andy, Muhsin. Not shown: Milly, Jennifer, Jing Wei.

(full names ommited to protect identity)