Preparing the introduction of a voice assistant like "Hey Mercedes" in Silicon Valley would probably be on the wish list of many students. Thomas Seidl has already fulfilled this wish during his studies. He is a dual bachelor’s degree student at Mercedes-Benz and has opted for a career with a focus on IT. Along with his project experience, during his three-year study program he has also learned a lot about responsibility and self-initiative, as well as about himself in general.
Hello Thomas, please introduce yourself briefly.
Seidl: My name is Thomas Seidl, I was born in Austria and I am 22 years old. I started my dual bachelor's study program at former Daimler AG in 2016 and have been studying international business informatics since then. Privately, I like to play the piano and am a huge alpaca fan. It may sound funny, but these are my most favorite animals.
How did you come to Mercedes-Benz?
It was almost by coincidence. I didn't use to think that the Mercedes-Benz brand was all that cool. My enthusiasm for the company came only through an internship at a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Salzburg. During that time, I was able to "experience" the products up close and to get to know the company behind them. After my internship, I looked around on thecareer website to see if there was anything corresponding to my interests and came across the offers related to dual studies. We don’t have such a model in Austria. I applied directly and, luckily, it worked out.
Where are you currently working?
At the moment, I am working in Research & Development in Sindelfingen in the Speech Technology team. Here, everything revolves around the voice assistant in the vehicles of Mercedes-Benz. I am in the process of writing my bachelor’s thesis, which deals with speech dialogs for control of smart homes. I am testing the things that the established voice assistant can already do today and on this basis am developing my own dialogs for Smart Home control. Of course, I'm trying to top the things that are already possible.
Developing dialogs and studying international business informatics - How did you come to IT?
I took a shot at programming relatively early, for the first time at the age of ten, when I bought myself a book on "coding". But I gave it up relatively quickly because I didn't understand it. Then, three years later, I got ambitious again. After many tutorials and a lot of experimenting, I then came up with my first app, which I was very proud of. Later on, I chose IT as my major in high school and also published apps as I became more experienced. On the side, I also do work voluntary work for a human rights organization, and am responsible for the CRM system there. In short, IT has always had a high priority in my life.
And is IT paying off well for you at Mercedes-Benz?
Since I am studying business informatics, my assignments have been in various IT departments at Mercedes-Benz. In each of these assignments, I was able to apply my knowledge from my studies directly and to always learn a lot more. So, I have gotten my money's worth both from the business management side and from the IT side. In this respect, I was always able to set my personal priorities. That's the nice thing about the dual study program. When it comes to opportunities and chances, there is nothing at Mercedes-Benz that might be missing.
What has your work in the company been like so far?
My first assignment was in the department that provides the IT systems for Procurement. My tasks here revolved around the analysis and visualization of data. This is where I worked with company data for the first time and became familiar with new tools. After that I moved to the IT infrastructure, where I was allowed to assist in several audits. My third assignment was in IT Sales in Berlin. There I worked with my colleagues on a large project dealing with the time recording in the Mercedes-Benz branches. The biggest highlight so far was my foreign assignment in Silicon Valley, where I spent three months working directly on the product and helping to develop the voice assistant for the American market.
Is this what drives you on?
Definitely! I am totally motivated to know that my work may end up in the customer's car later on. In the Silicon Valley project, I worked on many new features for the voice assistant, such as the question of the travel time to a specific location, including the current traffic situation along the route.
Why did you decide for a dual course of study?
What appealed to me was the connection to the company and the practical experience. I already knew early on that I always wanted to try out what I had learned right away. The dual study offers just this advantage. Besides that, you can also build up a great network within the company and learn what job really suits you through the different assignments. An integral part of my studies was also a five-month theory foreign semester in Helsinki, which was extremely interesting.
Do you already know how things will go on after your bachelor's thesis?
Right now, I am still looking for a job, but I already have a very exact idea of where I am headed. But, first, I have to take a few courses and some exams at the university.
What skills should you bring with you as a dual student at Mercedes-Benz?
You should be motivated, curious and open to new things. Because during your studies you have to constantly adapt to new circumstances through the constant changes between the university and the practical work. A great willingness to work is also important.
The Digital Students‘ Day is coming up. What is that exactly and how can you take part?
The Digital Students‘ Day offers a great opportunity to communicate with other students here. This year, it is being held as an online trade show, so you can take part from anywhere and don't have to travel. For example, I am also taking part and am on standby in an interactive chat, where you can fire away at us with your questions.