Intern in the R&D lab of the Automotive Central Electronic Control Unit (ECU) for in-vehicle Communication in our Information Network R&D Division, LAN R&D Department.
Bilal is from Pakistan, currently studying at National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Pakistan. He is pursuing a Master's degree in Information Security. Bilal interned at our LAN R&D Department at Yokkaichi for 10 weeks.
Why did you want to intern at Sumitomo Electric?
There usually aren’t many places offering an internship in automotive cybersecurity. But lucky for me, SEI had just such a role posted this year. The job description was so interesting that it compelled me to apply for the internship in Japan. Another reason I looked for an internship specifically in Japan was that I wanted to learn more about how the front runners of automotive technology, or engineers in particular, get things done today.
What was the most interesting thing you learned from this internship?
I came to realize that in order to feel disciplined, one must know how precious time is. This was the biggest lesson for me, to be wise and value time. I’m grateful to all those who shared their precious time to engage in intellectual discussion or just some daily conversation. It truly helped me learn about different cultures around the world. All this became possible among SEI people.
Moreover, I got to explore things myself by being curious about daily activities in a global environment and a traditional Japanese work culture. It eventually instilled in me the courage to gracefully encounter any potential challenges at hand.
What was a typical workday like for an intern at SEI?
For a morning person like me, the routine was not that tough. Since I was recruited to Yokkaichi Works, I didn’t have to worry about taking a train or bus because it’s a small city and I only had a 25- to 30-minute walk to work. On some days of the rainy season there was a soft pleasant drizzle, and on other days a thunderstorm. Unless there was a typhoon, you had to make it to work by the 8:30 am start time. In July, the heat and humidity can be quite severe, so it’s ideal to take measures such as using a parasol and getting to the workplace at least 20 minutes early to cool down before work.
The workday usually began with a short morning meeting with my mentors. This would be followed by R&D tasks for the entire day. Use of translation apps for conversations was quite common. A progress document was maintained for the weekly report, which was submitted at the conclusion of each week. I would leave the office by 17:30, and after that usually go buy supplies at the supermarket or take care of chores. Sometimes I went jogging in my spare time.
How has the internship helped shape your career?
I came to realize some intriguing career pathways for my future. My vision for research has broadened significantly, enabling me to work on my thesis with intuitive strategies after the internship. This wasn’t a result of just my own experience, but also from learning about the experience of others. I’m more certain now about my plans in general, and my decision-making has improved.
What advice do you have for future students considering this internship?
May and June are great as it is the rainy season, which I enjoyed, but the whole month of July is humid. In either case, an umbrella is a must-have. Typhoons were a new experience for me. It’s just strong winds and heavy rain, although sometimes when it gets severe you might have a day off.
A data-sim or pocket wi-fi is a necessity because the getting around can seem impossible without Maps and Translate apps. You can easily purchase these devices at an electronics store or the airport. For communication during the internship, the Line app was more than enough.
If you’re not familiar with chopsticks, it’s not compulsory but I highly encourage you to get used to them. Once you’re in Japan, you won’t find forks in many restaurants, and eating rice and salads with chopsticks is common practice. Also, for personal ease, you might want to learn some inquiry statements in Japanese, otherwise you can always use a translation app. If you have any health or dietary concerns, you should share those with the team before arriving in Japan so that necessary arrangements can be made.
If you are reading this, it means you are already interested in making the move. My advice would be, “go for it!” When I landed in Japan, I had zero knowledge of the culture or language but the whole team was really supportive. The best advice I got was “don’t worry, you’ll learn along the way.”