I’m Nelson, a secondary/high school student who just finished a one week work attachment at an SAP office in my home country, Singapore.
Before I get started, I’d like to say that hopefully this blog post can clear up some of the apprehensions that other interns out there might have before embarking on their work attachment – believe me, as time passes, it will become an experience to treasure.
So yes, that’s the three of us from Raffles Institution on our first day. ^ I’m the one in the jacket.
We entered the building scaring ourselves with stereotypes about a strict and cold and dull workplace with fierce adults that judge every fidget we make.
I’m happy to say that SAP smashed these stereotypes to bits.
Our supervisor was Mr Crispian Tan (as shown in the blue shirt in the picture above) and he showed us around the (huge) office while also introducing us to a number of the staff working there, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.
Naturally, we were awkward and sheepish at that point. After all, it was our first experience in the workplace…
One of the first people we were introduced to was Mrs Jessica Chang, and she briefed us on what we could expect from our attachment, and allayed our fears about working quite a bit.
On our way through the pantry, we met the President of SAP Asia-Pacific Japan, Mrs Adaire Fox-Martin, who paused for a while to say hi and welcome us.
The sheer friendliness of everyone we met was very heartening, and we soon felt more comfortable talking to others in the office. We also shed our preconceived notions of an impersonal and apathetic office environment thanks to all the warmth and smiles. 🙂
There was also a ton of content covered on the first day, while we oriented ourselves to our surroundings.
That was great, because we had had so many questions about the company and our duties to begin with.
What is SAP HANA?
How do you use HANA Cloud Platform?
How does SAP run its business?
Who uses SAP products?
When is lunch?
All these questions were answered in due time.
There were a lot really important things that we discovered thanks to all the speakers that we met with. I will just list some below:
- Just as what Google is we search, Facebook is to social media, that is what SAP is to business and I’m not joking — literally 70% of all business transactions touch something made by SAP, seemingly reaching across all industries
- There are so many possibilities involving SAP products even hobbyist programmers (aka us) or Forbes 500 companies can find a way to make the world more efficient by using them
- The pillars of the company are its apps, the platform, its network and its employees.
- Cloud services run in different forms, with IaaS (infrastructure as a service), SaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service, which is what SAP’s HANA Cloud Platform is)
After our session with Mr Shyam Prasad, who explained the solid basics of how the company functions!
Our session with Mr Saj Kumar (right) and Mr Jack Wang (centre), where we received our Internet of Things project and found the plethora of applications for SAP products!
Right: Mr Rahul, from whom we learnt about SAP HANA’s important functions on the technical side!
The person standing between the three of us wearing the grey shirt is Mr Roy Chua, who taught us about the business model of SAP and explained much about working life to us!
On this first day at work, we also received our tasks for the next 4 days. There were two main things we were tasked with doing:
Internet of Things project
Connect a Tessel or a Particle Photon to SAP’s HANA Cloud Platform and feed it data collected from sensors. Sounds easy?
This little baby right here ^ is a Tessel, and different sensor modules can be connected to each of its 4 ports, sensing temperature, humidity, ambient light, sound, rotation. It can also take pictures!
Cool thing about this is that it can connect to WiFi and stream data, just like its counterpart, the Particle, shown below.
Realistically, we are going to join the workforce in about 8 years’ time, so the company wanted to find out more about what young people think should be present in the workplace of tomorrow. I was especially psyched for this part of the project, because it really felt like we could make an impact and be heard, not to mention that a giant transnational company was asking for the feedback of 16 year olds!
With our heads still whizzing, our first day at work was concluded.
We started on the setting up of the Tessel and Particle.
We breezed through running the setup code on our IoT devices (somewhat) and started preparing for the final presentation due on the last day of work.
We also met up with Ms Yi Chiew, who shared her insight into the employee benefit structures and wellness initiatives. A prominent health initiative initiated here in Singapore is FitSAP, where employees compete on the number of steps they each take per day. Eventually, with enough steps accumulated to average 8000 steps a day, extra employee benefits are given!
This session helped us come up with some ideas about the policies or facilities we want to see in the future workplace.
Our employee benefits meeting with Ms Yi Chiew.
Some of us thought that the pantry with free flow soft drinks was already a great employee benefit!
We need a work-life balance too, you know.
By day 3 we are still exploring the HANA Cloud Platform, and we are on the verge of cracking the issue of connecting our IoT devices to the HCP. We tried following some tutorials to help but at some point or other they ended up contradicting each other. Okay, at least that was not such a major problem. Perseverance will pay off, right? So we soldiered on and tinkered with the software and the platform even more.
Before we knew it, it was lunch time and we scouted the vicinity of the office area, looking for more hidden places with nice food for lunch. The cafeteria already offers a decent delicious meal, but peckish and curious as we were, we explored deeper into the business complex. The brands, the logos written on the buildings all around were so familiar, the big companies that affected everyone’s daily lives one way or another. In the midst of all these tall buildings, I suddenly felt a sense of indescribable awe…
Returning from lunch, we resumed work on our project.
Working hard. Picture taken with the Tessel camera module
While we were able to get the IoT devices to get up and running locally, we were still facing a bit of trouble streaming the data online. It was rather frustrating to have had to go home to mull the problem over without being able to solve it in the day.
We consulted with Mr Jack Wang about the HANA Cloud Platform connection issue, and subsequently spent some more time trying to understand the ins and outs of the system from scratch.
It was also today that we met with Mrs Zarina Stanford, who gave us a peek into the world of marketing at SAP. As counter-intuitive as it seems, marketing is largely not just about creating advertisements, but quite a significant portion of marketing is related to creating a great brand. Building such an image almost surely results in word-of mouth advertising, which can be far more effective than standard forms of advertising. The most important thing would be to stay true to the ideally positive image that others have of the company and deliver on promises.
Breakthrough on our IoT project! We managed to connect both the Tessel and the Particle to the HANA Cloud Platform and stream data from the sensors online. Look at that!
Well, it is strange to say, however, seeing that table fill up slowly but surely was rather satisfying.
We intended to take things a further step by plotting graphs from the data we acquired…but sadly after experimenting around that did not materialize.
Now, we focussed our energies on the final presentation which was due the next day.
The past 4 days boiled down to this!
Find my script on the future workplace here:
With the power of hindsight, perhaps I stuttered too much to be fluid and convincing. In any case, all who were present paid their full attention to us as we spoke – receiving somuch attention all at once is both an honour and a source of pressure!
After the presentation was done, we were asked very earnestly, more questions about how we would like a company of the future to appeal to us. We answered as frankly as we could.
To me personally, I want a company of the future to be dynamic, tolerant, responsible and a place for lifelong learning.
I trust that things are developing in that direction what with the progressive measures companies like SAP are taking to ensure a greener future and more comfort for employees.
Even for us temporary employees, the hospitality that we’ve experienced is amazing. Despite not being able to touch the code for the company’s software products, we understand 1 week really is not much time. It would have taken years of experience to understand and create the software products as SAP does; we weren’t ready for that stage yet. Also, learning how to use the versatile HCP is a much more practical skill to be learnt in the short timespan in my humble opinion.
Us receiving Sony ActionCams + SAP caps + SAP shirts
While the three of us initially entered this work attachment as acquaintances, the shared time and memories together brought us closer as friends.
We thank all our new friends and everyone who was involved in the whole process of our unforgettable work attachment here at SAP!
Special thanks to Mrs Jessica Chang and Mr Crispian Tan for being awesome, caring and understanding supervisors!
From left: Jessica, Alicia, Roy, Bryan (in white school uniform), Jack, Tristan (in black school uniform), me (in black school uniform), Chetna, Yi Chiew, Crispian.
SAP = Super Awesome People haha 😀