As a Colombian studying water resources and engineering management at the University of Stuttgart, I was thrilled to learn about Tractebel’s Young Professionals Programme (YPP). It seemed perfectly designed for someone like me transitioning from university to working life.
The mentorship I would receive from world-class engineers and the opportunities to work on projects abroad was exactly what I needed. “The job definitely won’t be boring”, I heard during my interview. Six months into YPP and lots of airmiles later, I can confirm that’s absolutely true.
On just my second day of work, I left the office building Bad Vilbel near Frankfurt for Brussels HQ to attend a meeting on hydrology and climate change. I was overwhelmed to meet so many new people. But the conversations were inspiring and motivating as I learned about projects delivering zero-carbon solutions in some of the world’s toughest environments.
The trip confirmed the incredible talent that resides within our global teams and the knowledge and experience our diverse experts bring to the table. My network has now expanded to include colleagues from Brazil, France, Belgium and beyond. There is so much knowledge to be shared.
Hydrology and Climate Change Community of Practice (Brussels)
Onwards to Uganda
Just two days after I returned from Brussels back to Germany, we discussed my next destination within our team. Tractebel was working in Uganda on its National Irrigation Master Plan and I was offered the opportunity to accompany my colleague Berhon. Did I want to join?
Of course I did! Although I had no expectations or prior idea of what would await me, I was already curious to explore it. What began as my first trip to Africa became a two-month experience that has made me both a better engineer and has given me new and inspiring experiences.
Shared Commitment – combined Expertise
Arriving in Uganda I was glad to be back in a tropical country. The colour of plants and taste of fruits are so intense! What a great place to work.
Tractebel prides itself on its diverse multicultural teams, and I really lived this in Uganda. I collaborated everyday with local Ugandan experts and Tractebel experts from around the world. All motivated by a shared commitment to engineering a sustainable water future for Uganda. I was involved in working on the National Irrigation Master Plan. Therefore my colleagues and I collected hydrometeorological data and analysed water availability in the country. It was incredible how much I was able to learn about Uganda.
Adventuring on the Side
With the friends I made during my stay I explored the city life, traditions and learned a lot about the Ugandan culture. This was a wonderful supplement to work. We had some amazing adventures spending evenings and weekends together.
One of the nicest memories was visiting the Victoria Lake in Jinja, where the Nile River has its source. It was unforgettable, but visiting the riverside was not enough for me. The consequence was clear: I went white-water rafting with a friend. Thankfully we avoided the crocodiles we had heard so much about. (There are no crocodiles in this part of the Nile – but the guides have fun scaring the tourist every now and then. ?)
And then there was the traditional dancing! The performances I saw were not only entertaining, but also educational about Uganda’s rich culture and heritage.
Local food in Uganda was also great. I especially enjoyed the “Rolex”. Thinking about a nice watch? Far from it! Actually “Rolex” comes from the fast use of “rolled eggs” and turns out to be tasty street food delight. Scrambled eggs with onion, tomato and sauce rolled together with chapati bread. Paired with a Ugandan Nile beer, it was fantastic.
Bringing out your personal Best
During my stay in Uganda I learned a lot. Not only my technical knowledge improved. Also the people reminded me about enjoying life easily and appreciating the simple things. The Young Professionals Programme brings out the best in people. It is unique in a way that you feel the support from everyone while entering into working life. The opportunity to work in countries around the world makes you more dynamic, engaged and open-minded just when you’re starting your career.
The engineering work itself is both challenging and meaningful in a supportive environment. Together with world-class experts, you get to engineer innovative solutions that contribute to a more sustainable world. What could be better than that?
Uganda was a great start! Wondering where the YPP brought me afterwards? Read about my next stop (coming soon).