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Mikkel's master thesis story - Engineering student at Product Development and Innovation - Completed June 2017

Mikkel is an engineering student at PDI within the subject Product Value Creation and wrote his thesis from February 1, 2017 till May 24, 2017. He wrote his thesis in collaboration with a company that operates on the expensive end of the bedding industry. Especially the collaboration with the company created obligations, which made it a challenge to get the thesis done on time, but also made the process exciting and ultimately gave him a job in the end.

Large data collection in three countries was very time consuming

After writing my master thesis proposal at the end of January, I planned the data collection for my thesis. Or I thought. Because everything changed at the very first meeting with my case company in the first week of February. Instead of collecting data from Denmark alone, they now also wanted me to collect data from Germany, Holland and England.

Everyone around me said it was great, especially because I received a paycheck. Which is also very positive but it creates a lot of practical preparations. Suddenly I had to become very focused on preparations for the project so my writing process got postponed for several weeks. Because I am alone with the planning, I am constantly apologizing to myself because it is difficult to both write and plan at the same time.
When I'm abroad it's a hit-or-miss, I just can’t go back to Holland to collect more data. It’s now or never.
The collaboration with the company goes really well. They are really nice and they trust me. The responsibility lies with me, which is awesome. At the same time it creates extra pressure because I feel a responsibility to show them that they are right. It creates a desire and a drive to deliver in all three countries, which makes data collection fun, but energy consuming. So much so, that I often went to bed before 9 pm. The data collection in the three countries went well even though I was hoping for more interviews, more depth and so on, but my fellow students told me I had enough data, which actually reassured me.

That I could write my master thesis in one month was due to focusing on everything that was positive

Suddenly the deadline is in one month. Many of my fellow students have written entire sections that they have received feedback on from their supervisors. I have not even written one page, so I am busy. I have to write 25,000 words in a month. Everyone is ahead of me and some have already written 50 pages at this time and I'm just getting started. Now I’m suddenly feeling the pressure.
I made an agreement with three fellow students to meet every day up to the deadline. Our discussions and the fact that they are ahead of me was motivating. I was constantly trying to keep my mind positive and instead of thinking about the number of pages to be written per day, I thought in subtitles and headings. Some days I wrote one page and on other days I wrote more than ten. Some days are filled with figures and other days are plain text. It varied a lot and I would get negative thoughts if I constantly thought that I had to write 5 pages a day.

A thesis supervisor with great confidence in me, also helps me plan my time

It's great he had confidence in me. We met six times over the period of four months, and every meeting resulted in a clear plan for the next 2-3 weeks. It worked for me and I finished my thesis two days before the deadline.

The five best pieces of advice

 When I think back on my process, it was relatively unstructured and filled with unproductivity. It was filled with a lot of excuses but at the same time it was also fun with the responsibility and independence of traveling abroad. I could have been twice as effective if everything was optimized. But it was a dynamic process and I took one day at a time. My best advice would be:
1. Do not think in numbers. Neither days left or the number of pages to be written in a day. Or think: "So much time has passed and I still haven’t written anything yet".
2. Think in a practical way about what you are lacking and act on it. Every time you move forward it is a success. You will always be able to find a more optimized process than what you are currently doing. Always.
3. Try not to think of your supervisor as a customer, whom you have to please. Make the project your own. I had success with it because they had great confidence in me. If you don’t feel the same way then try to communicate how you see the project evolve. Most supervisors actually feel that the student knows more about the project than themselves.
4. Find support in friends, family and fellow students. Don’t be afraid to admit that you feel lost and that you need to get back on track again. Talking about it helps.
5. Last but not least, believe in yourself. After all it's just another task. Not the culmination of your education. You have done it before. And you can do it again.

Last Updated 07.02.2024