The blog post was written by Liv Rasmussen, who just ended her trainee period. You see her in front of an XRD lab above.
After two intense years I look back and try to imagine the person I was before this experience. Time has really flown by, so quickly, but at the same time – because I have learnt so much, experienced so much, and changed so much – it feels like an eternity ago that I was that young person, straight out of uni, with practically no knowledge about the smelting industry, who nonetheless accepted a trainee position in Elkem and was stationed at Elkem Bremanger for my first period.
From that initial “shock” of moving from a sizeable student town in Sweden to the small village of Svelgen in the nook of a Norwegian fjord, I’m now trying to finish off the projects I’ve been working on at Elkem Technology’s R&D lab here in Kristiansand. The main focus has been on X-ray diffractometry (XRD), where I’ve gotten to learn both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
I’ve investigated lots of different materials, but the chief task has been to develop and use a method of analysis for heat-treated quartz, as part of a larger project on raw materials. Historically, the focus has been on the black materials: coal, coke and charcoal. Of late, industry and academia are becoming more and more aware of the effect that different types of quartz can have on the furnace process, and are trying to fill the knowledge gap and bring this somewhat neglected “stone” into the limelight.
Soon - permanent position in lab
I think the laboratory work suits me, and apparently some people at the lab thought so too, since I applied and got a permanent position as laboratory engineer. Soon I will be transitioning from trainee “in transit”, to permanent member of the lab team, something I very much look forward to.
The trainee program has been quite a journey: academically, geographically, career-wise, but also for me personally. It’s different from case to case, of course, but for me it has sometimes been a rough ride, perhaps compounded by my being a foreigner and sometimes struggling with the language. It’s a bit like this for two years: just when you’re starting to get comfortable somewhere, meet a few people, learn the ropes, the lay of the land, you have to uproot yourself and go someplace new – and go through the entire process again. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I found it trying at times. It can be quite strenuous to have to adapt to new environments, and say goodbye to people, so many times in a relatively short time span.
What a ride...
Nonetheless, it is not a life choice I wish undone; I don’t regret it one second. Perhaps because I’m coming out the other end now and though it was a bumpy ride, I’m very pleased with the final destination and the scenery along the route. From learning about the furnace and electrode processes in Bremanger, seeing the insides of both an old and a new furnace in Chicoutimi, to working with XRD and quartz in Kristiansand, I have gotten to explore two new countries, meet lots of cool and inspiring people, and get to know Elkem and its inner workings, with everything from “A3s” to EHS, from raw material to finished product, from operator to CEO…
I’m very happy to be staying in Elkem, joining a wonderful group of people at the R&D lab. I have so much left to learn at my new workplace, but I also think that all the things I have learnt through the trainee program will be invaluable to me. What a ride it has been!
This is Liv Rasmussen, signing off…