My internship at DONG Energy

In December of 2016, my mom suggested I look into a Danish company leading the charge in green energy which my dad was making software for. The company, unfortunately titled, was DONG Energy, and after a very lucky chance, I arrived in Copenhagen on June 16th, ready to start as a summer intern.

Three months later, it is time for me to leave.

First, a little background on the company. DONG Energy is Denmark’s leading energy supplier, and is quickly developing the reputation of the worlds leaders in offshore wind farming. They manage offshore wind farms all over Denmark, the UK, and now two in Germany. And seriously, offshore wind farming is SO COOL. The company employs over 6,000 people and is wholeheartedly devoted to reducing emissions, leading in innovations, and providing an unmatched working environment.

SO, what was I doing there? I started under the ambiguous title of ‘external consultant’ but was added onto the GIS team within the IT department. One of my majors, physical geography, gave me a year of baseline GIS, Matlab, and Python experience. My second major, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, sparked my interest in green energy and environmental engineering. With my limited background but unlimited interest and enthusiasm, I was assigned tasks focused on applications involving wind farming and online capabilities.

I will not dive into the specifics of what my individual projects entailed, but I will say I had actually challenging and engaging work, and I never felt like a second-rate employee just because I was a college intern. I had endless support on my team. It was challenging at times, but it made the victories so much sweeter.Even the breakfast and lunch in the company cafeteria were bar none. How could I not fall in love?

I’ve had some moments of doubt this summer. I have felt like a phony and I did not deserve this opportunity. Now I see all I have learned and I feel like I have done this summer justice by soaking up all the lessons like a curious little sunshine sponge.

During my internship I went on two business trips, one to the UK and one to Malaysia.

In the UK we acted as consultants for the IT department, making personal visits to two wind farms where they use the applications we develop for wind turbine performance, weather conditions, vessel tracking, bathymetry data, engine errors, and anything that could be useful to an engineer who has to decide how much energy their wind farm should be generating and if the conditions are safe for their maintenance workers. We paid a visit to the London office as well, where the GIS team there explained how they are maintaining data during the development of new wind-farms, and how difficult it can be to process it after it has passed through so many hands. There were so many good ideas exchanged during that week, and I cannot wait to see what comes of it.

Because offshore wind farming is a new industry and DONG Energy is leading the charge globally, there are endless possibilities for creativity and innovation. It is an exciting opportunity to distance ourselves from any emerging competitors. Being in such a new field, though, is also incredibly overwhelming. There is no one to follow for examples. Everything is developing so fast and innovation alone cannot sustain the exponential growth. This conflict in large part makes me so excited for this company, and to have the opportunity to be right here right now.

In Kuala Lumpur, our visit was for a completely different purpose. Half of the IT development team works in KL and many bosses (mine included) have to manage their teams from half way across the world. It’s important to touch base in person, and show the employees that they are valued, which is how I ended up getting a free ticket to Malaysia. I was able to see a huge diversity in working styles, and got a better understanding of just how challenging it is to make so many moving parts work together within a team. (If you want to read more, I have a couple of posts detailing just how life-changing of an experience it was)

Theres really no way to describe how much I have learned this summer. I know my time here has changed my lens on the world. I know there a million other ways to do things successfully than my way. I know I’m capable of moving to a foreign country and diving into a 9-5 job (more like 9-4 tbh) I know pickled herring is delicious and how much of a difference software versioning can make when uploading data *painful flashbacks* I know I had the coolest co workers in the world! (you guys know who you are)

A good part of my heart will be dedicated to Copenhagen, my job, and all the crazy experiences of this summer. After my last meeting with my bosses, I was lucky enough to hear that they want me back (WHAAAAAT) and I might have the opportunity to work at multiple offices, including London, Boston, and maybe even San Francisco. Although I am sad to be leaving, this is not a goodbye. This is more like a see ya later nerds!

I am endlessly thankful for this entire opportunity, and humbled to be asked back to this company after graduation. For a beautiful three months I have traveled the world, tasted adulthood, and worked for something I truly believe in. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Jeg elsker dig Copenhagen!

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Days 70 to 72: Kuala Lumpur part 2

The final days of my short stay in Malaysia. Part 3/3

Quick Hits:

  • I need to go gokartimg more
  • monkeys are pests
  • Don’t make my stupid mistakes, bring modest clothing to a Muslim country

Details:

The week finished with some excursions and a general feeling of exhaustion.

We had the honor of bring invited over for some homemade Persian food by one of the members of Jakob’s team on Monday night. It was easily the best meal I have eaten all summer. I am really bummed I couldn’t eat more. It was all so good. I will be doing some thorough research to find out how to make my own sad american copy of these dishes. We returned to the hotel and met up with Marie. Somehow the topic of sororities came up and for thirty glorious minutes I was able to share the ridiculousness that is sorority life to two shocked Danes. They thought it was fake, just movie stuff. They were in disbelief. It was one of my favorite conversations of the summer.

On Tuesday Jakob and I visited the Batu caves. I believe it is a temple that is under construction. It certainly looked that way. There were plenty of mischievous monkeys stealing food and iphones. I made the foolish mistake of wearing my standard California shorts. Thankfully there was a cover up rental stand for other women as naive as myself.

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Wednesday our office went out for a go karting team building excursion. I am ashamed to say I let my country down, and I came in fourth. BUT the whole thing was great fun! We went out to lunch after and between you and me, this felt like the first time foreign food had crushed my spirits. Although it usually is very exciting trying new things and just blindly pointing at menus, something inside of my longed for a burger, or a good taco salad, or anything my parents cook.

After some very genuine goodbyes we were back in the airport on the way to Copenhagen.

I learned SO MUCH on this trip. I saw a culture that was very diverse and how cultural tendencies can span into the work place. I saw the ridiculously difficult challenge of managing teams across continents first hand. The applications that are managed, created, and maintained from Malaysia are so critical to the success of DONG Energy, and its easy to see why. The fine line that needs to be walked to ensure employees are feeling valued, while still producing results quickly, and keeping costs within a budget seems at times like an impossible task. Watching Jakob and Marie operate was invaluable, and I hope to someday follow in their footsteps by being an effective, enthusiastic, and respected leader.

If I can find the emotional strength, I’ll be writing a summary of this internship and my summer at DONG Energy by the end of the week.

Until then, one lucky intern signing off!

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Days 67 to 69: Langkawi

Part 2/3 of my trip to Malaysia. Here are some of the antics that ensued during the weekend we spend in Langkawi

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Quick Hits:

  • I stayed at a five star resort for $120 a night
  • Beer was supposed to be cheaper than water, but that was a lie
  • This song played almost constantly in my head as we swung around the curves in our rental car
  • Things that would be considered extremely dangerous in the US (exposed wiring in the rain, broken bridges not blocked off, seriously rusted railing, roads without rules) are merely the accessories to this island
  • Jakob and I had the honor of being the token while people and were asked to be in pictures (#celebritystatus #stayhumble)

 

Details:

Friday afternoon we arrived in Langkawi. The humidity whipped us in the face as we stepped onto the tarmac. After bargaining a rental car for $40 for THREE DAYS, we were off to the resort.

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To create the chaos of a Malaysian road: Take some 40-year-old unmaintained roads and position them precariously close to some shanty huts. Check to make sure everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road. Add a couple of roundabouts to add some extra danger to the mix. For the cars, add equal parts relativity new rental cars, 50-year-old tour buses, and Kawasaki scooters. Ensure the scooter drivers are not wearing a helmet or shoes, and potentially a shirt. Cigarette hanging out of the mouth or child on the lap optional. Add some fat monkeys on the side of the road. Position the monkeys around large piles of trash. Finally, sprinkle in some torrential downpour rain storms, maybe one a day. Shake all this up and BOOM- you have now entered the chaos which my boss and I experienced during our weekend on Langkawi.

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After 20 minutes of pins and needles and absolute hilarity, we arrived at our resort on the northwest corner of the island. Berjaya Langkawi was awesome, my room was a standalone bungalow meters from the ocean. It felt like I had arrived in a dream, honestly. Yes, it has the dream quality because it was so beautiful, but also because I was on AN ISLAND SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MALAYSIA AND THAILAND in a private room that I had bought with my own money for like nothing?? What the heck is my life?? existential crisis ensued…

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Random note: Langkawi (and all of Malaysia) is very influenced by Muslim culture, meaning pork is nowhere. I made the mistake like 1000 times on this trip buying chicken sausage thinking it would be the actually tasty chicken sausage that they sell at Trader Joes. I was disappointed every time- so you have been warned.

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We decided to take a day trip scuba diving on Saturday. We watched the sunrise and ate breakfast from the deck of the resort. At 8am the bus came to pick us up. The decor was circa 1984 and it reeked of cigarettes despite the no smoking signs everywhere. Our driver had probably 6 teeth and had the complexion of a leather handbag also circa 1984. I don’t want to know the age of the suspension. The shocks were minutes away from expiring if the were not deal already. Each stop larger and larger squads of chinese friends piled in. My boss and I laughed while halfway joking about saying goodbye to our families. There was no telling what was going to happen on this bus. The whole experience was really great fun.

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Three hours later we had arrived to an island via ferry and were strapping on our scuba gear. My boss Jakob has not been diving since 1998, and although I have dove in pools, I do not have a licence. No worries though!! We were on our own private excursion seeing that everyone else opted for snorkeling.

Both dives were incredible. My ears, unfortunately, wanted to make my life difficult, and were screaming with pain after 5m depth. Our guide grabbed onto my tank and eased me deeper into the water as I focused on not dying. The rest of the first dive he did not let go and I basically had a free ride around the reef. Our second dive was just as beautiful, and thankfully my ears were a little better. We saw grouper, lion fish, so many clown fish, huge coral fish, and schools of every color. I would go back to Asia just to get my scuba license alone.

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I had a serious moment during the return trip sitting on the deck of the scuba boat. The engines were howling, the wind whipping through my hair. The beauty of it all was so hard to comprehend, yet the crew was dumping trash directly off the boat into the water. Seeing that was so upsetting, but the charm of the rusted boat and sunshine on my skin were almost trying to tell me ‘shhhh, dont worry about it, just enjoy this’

That night we were pooped and got a front row seat to the sunset from another restaurant on the resort. They messed up the order or Jakobs dinner and brought him desert immediately. Realizing the mistake, they took it away, and an hour later when it was actually appropriate, they brought out the same now saggy chocolate pudding with now melted whipped cream. Asia man…

Sunday we embarked on a road trip around the island. First stop, arguably the coolest, was the sky tram. It was a million degrees with 100% humidity. It was also 100% worth it. The pictures do it a cruel injustice.

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Next stops included the “black sand beach” which was a normal beach that had some dark soil mixed in, the “geopark” which was a muddy lawsuit waiting to happen, and a hindu temple alongside the road.

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That afternoon when I was eating a coconut I started talking to a woman who was a local malay. She talked (or should I say whispered) about some of the inequalities in the country and how the government is becoming more corrupt. She told me “you are so lucky you can insult Donald Trump all you like, anyone who publicly criticizes the government here is put in jail” This really hit me hard.

I think a lot of Americans, myself included, have complained about and mocked our current government (which we have every right to do) BUT, no matter how stupid a tweet we read, we still have so much in the US that most of the world would kill to have. No, our healthcare is not free. No, our education system is not as good as it should be. No, we do not have an effective way of combating racist bias and eradicating bigotry. BUT, we live in a place that we can talk about all these things, and people can dedicate their lives fighting for their beliefs. We of course should continue fighting for what we are passionate about and live to create a better world for those to come, but we should not take for granted the luxuries we are entitled to in a developed country with free speech. I feel very lucky to be an american, no matter who is in office.

Sunday night Jakob and I crawled back onto the plane and eventually into the Hilton in Kuala Lumpur, exhausted, dirty, and endlessly entertained with whatever it is that we just experienced spending the weekend as the only two white people on Langkawi.

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Days 63 to 67 : KL Part one

There is no way I am going to pack everything that happened in Malaysia into one post! This will be one of three. Excessive? Maybe. Do I care? Not at all.

Quick hits:

  • Malaysian airport security is a joke
  • Malaysia is incredibly diverse
  • In two weeks I saw three blondes, one was myself in the mirror, the other two were my Danish bosses
  • Malls are rampant in Kuala Lumpur
  • The “ringit” (Malaysias currency) is weak, and everything is shockingly cheap
  • I can assume any business trip with DONG Energy means amazing food

Details:

WOW. colors everywhere. trash burning in the street. shining high rises. packs of wild dogs wandering across a freeway in traffic. spices of different cultures constantly colliding. I’m still not really sure what just happened. How the hell do I even begin putting Kuala Lumpur into words.

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Well, I’ll just start off by saying this has been the biggest rush my senses have experienced possibly ever. This trip sent my emotions for a loop as well. It could be because KL looks like an extremely dirty San Diego at times, and all the palm trees made me a little reminiscent. The traffic and smog were like LA. The mix of races was the first I’ve seen at this scale all summer. Its weirdly familiar, but nothing like anywhere I’ve ever lived.

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My boss described it as “southeast asian charm” It is a rush of emotions and senses. Some things are incredibly conflicting. It is so beautiful but so dirty. People are so happy but some live in absolute squalor. The trains worked great but the freeways were a lawless chaotic fury. I was so in love but I also kind of wanted to go home…

This fury, though, is absolutely addicting, and I cannot wait to be back in this crazy world of southeast asia.DSC_0054.jpg

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The diversity of Kuala Lumpur was amazing. The office was a mix of Chinese, Iranian, Malay, Indian, Thai, and I am sure many others. Watching everyone collaborate while still preserving their unique take because of their cultural tendencies was invaluable. This trip illuminated the challenges in creating effective management. The balance between getting results and keeping people happy is a difficult one, but both can be achieved with just the right mixture of communication, respect, and efficiency. I hope someday to be as effective as my boss is at collaborating his team, which spans a huge skill set, maintains extremely important applications, and is split between continents.

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Outside of work, we managed to get in some mall time, where I got luggage and lots of souvenirs for my friends and family. We made it to china town, central market, petronas towers, a really cool bar on top of a building, and savored as much of the city as we could with the little amount of time we had after work.

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Still, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience on Langkawi…

Days 56 to 62: Pride and friends

Time seems like a very strange concept after the past three days of traveling. I am currently in Kuala Lumpur (so amazing I am saving all my comments for another post) and my brain is keeping track of Danish time (so we can work with the rest of the team over skype), California time (no reason I should be keeping track of this but I can not fight my curiosity), and Kuala Lumpur time (obviously). From my relatively mushy travel brain, here’s what I remember of the last week

Quick hits:

  • rainbows are great
  • pride was a great reminder that I should listen to more madonna
  • I drink too much coffee
  • I cried watching Moneyball
  • A drag queen proposed to one of her dancers at the drag show I went to on Friday and it was the most fantastic moment
  • There are few greater feelings than just dancing in public without a care

Details:

I don’t mean to cop-out, but I really am having a hard time finding the motivation/ remembering what happened in the past couple of days. I do have a lot of amazing pictures!

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During the work week I had dinner with my new friend Pei Chao, visited the Copenhagen glyptotheque with Teodora, did a lot of writing, walked around Christansburg with another friend Kimberly, gave a presentation at work about my senior thesis, and ate a particularly delicious sweet potato. (preheat oven to 400F or 205C, cut potatoe in half, put a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper on the cut face, place the face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 minutes) Boy do I miss sweet potatoes…

Friday was a long day of work but Teodora and I attended the greatest drag show ever that made up for it ten fold. All summer I have been very seriously thinking about committing to a more minimalist lifestyle, but it only took 30 minutes of queens for me to start thinking ‘I need more outrageous dresses’ and ‘maybe I need some leotards’ There was a proposal after a fantastic number to ‘Diamonds are a girls best friend’ and so much positive loving energy. Fantastic!

Saturday we went to the pride parade. Our position was awesome, and I had a great time taking pictures, dancing to ABBA along side Teodora, and trying to catch worthless free stuff. We walked down the parade route after and saw all the floats another time.

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I have to say, one of the most entertaining floats was the Jeep float. It was one of the gayest, fantastic, good times in the whole parade. They had a drag queen dressed as Cleopatra sitting on the roof of a wrangler waving gold silk like a goddess. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking about some of the US jeep owners that might not be the biggest fans of this kind of marketing…

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When we made it to Stroget, where the parade ended, it was time for some hot dogs and ice cream. We had such a fun day and by 6:00 we were wiped out.

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Sunday I had the pleasure of showing one of my good friends from UCSB around Copenhagen. I met Katya during a prospective freshman information day, and she mentioned she wanted to start a circus club. Turns out we were in the same circus, and just missed each other in practice for five years. Anyways, now were good friends and we had a great day walking around Copenhagen while dodging sudden rain showers.

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Sunday night, I packed for malaysia, watched Chasing Coral, and lost sleep thinking about how awesome of a week I had. I feel so so so very lucky.

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A Friday afternoon roller coaster

There have been a lot of moments this summer where I have stood at my desk on the verge of tears. I have a few friends with the misconception I am very put together. I want to be very clear, just because I have gotten a lucky break at an incredible company I am legally an adult, I have so many days where I have no idea what I am doing. Honestly I think none of us know what we are doing, and this little transcribed freak out is an example of how I am attempting to come to peace with this fact.

I wrote this on a Friday afternoon, after a long couple of days, feeling like an absolute fraud.

 

In this moment, I don’t know what I am doing and I couldn’t tell you why I am here. My anxiety has twisted my stomach in horrific knots. Failure is not an option. Not that it was an option in school, but to some degree it was. I could take a horrible grade on something if it was impossible or taking too much of my time. At my desk, though, I am given a task, and it needs to be done. No other options. No F’s. The company is paying me to live in Copenhagen and I can’t just say, I’m sorry, I tried really hard, this just isn’t working. I signed up for this.

This data is staring at me, spitting on my soul, my confidence, my slim inkling that I am becoming an adult. I can’t get past this stupid map. Every day I leave work thinking, tomorrow is the day, this will be done. Every day I get to work, realize something is horrifically wrong and again scrap all of my work. I want to put my face in a cheese grater.

I’m an adult, I tell myself. DON’T cry at your desk. Push through. Find your extra gear.

The last two weeks have been this same routine every day. I am on a rollercoaster of breakthroughs and crushing defeats. I am writing this post from the trough of a defeat, but I am certain in an hour I will be riding high again (hopefully for the last time)

If I had any sort of emotional logic, I would stop hurting myself like this. How I am able to get so excited when things start going moderately right will never cease to amaze me. It is a blessing. I might have started writing this to talk myself down, to tell myself to stop doing this every day, multiple times a day. Honestly thought, who am I kidding, this is who I am. No amount of logic will keep me from feeling enthusiastic about my progress no matter how small.

In a professional sense, I have learned a lot from my mistakes in the past summer, in an emotional sense, I have learned a lot as well, but I intend on changing NOTHING.

Maybe there are some painfully blind optimists out there that know what I am talking about. Maybe I am just mistaking optimism for my naïve nature. Maybe I will never be sure. Today, though, I choose the rollercoaster. I choose happiness and an open heart ready to be stabbed and completely destroyed in a couple of hours. When I wake up tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I know it will be okay. For that I am so thankful. And suddenly, a couple of paragraphs of writing later, it feels like the rollercoaster is ascending the hill again.

Heres to the fake adults! Keep on faking it till you make it!

Days 52-55: Entering the final countdown…

No way has it almost been two months here… I am in disbelief and honestly fighting off the sadness of leaving Copenhagen on an hourly basis.

Quick Hits:

  • work is hard!! (but rewarding)
  • I had a desert at work that was like a giant cake pop but less dense and covered in coconut. Don’t know if it was danish or what but its worth mentioning.
  • my friends are awesome
  • my brain is fried
  • the sun is setting at 9pm!! Seasons are changing!!!
  • I am an emotional mess thinking about going home and I keep making it worse by listening to bluegrass and coldplay (whats wrong with me??)

 

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Details:

Yes, it is slightly less than a month till I’m back in the US. It may seem a little dramatic to be now constantly thinking of how I’m leaving, but I’m here to tell you three months is not enough to get acquainted with a city like Copenhagen (It’s probably not enought to get truly acquainted with any cool city TBH)

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This week has been a really fun one. Every night is something different. I am in an all out friendship, culture, fun soaking in sprint. Simultaneously my work tasks are beginning to get harder and more interesting, and I’m a little scared I wont be able to get everything done in time.

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Monday, I went to an open air screening of 500 days of summer. With my emotions already at frightening levels I should have known it would be a bad idea but I went anyways. I cried on the bike home, just overwhelmed with my life and feelings and the beauty of the city and seriously missing Santa Barbara and all my friends… Great movie though!

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Teodora and I got desert and beer Tuesday night around stroget, the shopping/ tourism center, and it was all so cute! Walking through the streets a performer was playing some Jack Johnson (UCSB Alum) and it made my heart hurt a little, in a good way.

Wednesday was my new Aussie friend Tay’s birthday! We all met for dinner and it seems like she had an awesome day!

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Yesterday I went to Copenhagen library and GOD check out how beautiful it was! Unfortunately it closes at 7pm so I didn’t have a lot of time. I came home, made a delicious dinner, did some reading (On the road by Jack Kerouac in case ur wonderin) and it was lights out at 10.

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Today, Friday, I got a little frustrated with my work (understatement) and I ended up going home a little early to take a nap and work on my thesis. I NAPPED for an HOUR. Thats how you know its been a completely draining week in more ways than one. Still, I feel so thankful for all the emotions and W’s and L’s I took this week.

Sometimes when I get a little overwhelmed or start feeling insecure I go on social media a lot more than usual, and its been one of those weeks. I made the decision today to try and take a little break for a while. Its hard, because I want to show everyone whats going on in my life and keep up with all of my friends, but at the same time, its so silly thinking that social media should hold any semblance of a priority in my life. Obviously, it dosent really matter, but its easy to kind of let it dominate more and more of my time until I’m blindly checking Instagram 10 times a day. So apart from messaging people on facebook, I’m just going to take a little time off from all that.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!