While I’ve only been in Berlin for a week, I feel right at home. Britta and the Intrax team provided an outstanding orientation for us American interns. Some of my favorite moments of the orientation week were the 3-hour Berlin walking tour that we took through the city. I finally got the chance to see landmarks like the Brandenburg gate, Reichstag, Berlin wall, etc. I also enjoyed the 2-hour intensive conversational German workshops with Britta and the advanced German group that we had each day. While these were challenging at times, I am extremely thankful that this was included in the orientation. In just one week, I feel like my German has drastically Improved and that my mind has been reprogrammed to speak German! It also didn’t hurt that Intrax held one of the classes in a rooftop bar overlooking the city!
I also greatly enjoyed the site visits to big Firm companies such as Bayer Pharmaceuticals and the labor union. The presentations given to us were extremely informative and I greatly enjoyed the discussion after the presentations. I found the German working professionals to be extremely nice and personable (very much unlike the negative stereotypes I had been warned about). Our visit to the Jewish history museum on Friday was also a unique and informative experience.
When the weekend came and orientation was finally over, us interns got the chance to explore the city on our own. On Friday, a small group of us decided to retrace the steps of our walking tour through Berlin (But this time we came equipped with a HD camera and a determination to take some awesome pictures!). We went back to some of the interesting sights and took pictures and had a blast! We ate at a beautiful restaurant in the city and had an all around perfect day! At nighttime we checked out the Berlin nightlife scene and it was definitely unique and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the US.
Sunday, my roommate and I went to Potsdam, a small city in the suburbs of Berlin. It was beautiful there! We walked through the gardens and saw the summer castle of Friedrich the great, the King of Prussia. We also went up in an old windmill.
Monday was my first day of work. I had the luxury of having Britta accompany me to my workplace. Together we rode the train to Birkholz International BB by Berlin and she dropped me off. The building I work in is quite impressive. Upon entering they had flowers for me and showed me to my own office! It is certainly a luxurious place and the rooftop pool doesn’t hurt either!
My first day was a unique experience. My Boss Christin asked me whether I wanted to communicate in German or English with her. I told her I would prefer to communicate in German so as to better improve my conversational German skills. From this point on, we speak almost exclusively in German. I still think its crazy when I speak German and people understand me! I am learning a lot about the beauty industry and the world of fragrance. Christin gave me multiple resources detailing specific fragrance families as well as specifics on top notes, middle notes, and base notes scents. Currently, I am working on a project to deliver a presentation on American beauty trends and ideas. Herr Birkholz is very interested in the American perspective because his upcoming product launch is not just targeted to the German market but also for tourists. I find it to be a unique experience to be working at a company during a time where there is a major brand extension. The opportunity to collaborate and be creative is certainly a part of the company culture at Birkholz International as new products are constantly being considered and researched. It is also a valuable experience as I am given the opportunity to really study the beauty market in relation to the company. For example, potential competitors are not yet fully defined and product categories are still being added.
Today my boss informed me that we would be traveling to KaDeWe (a large department store in Berlin) in the upcoming week to scout out ideas for the brands pop up store in KuDamm. I can’t believe that shopping is work! In the coming weeks, I look forward to the unique challenges and opportunities that come with working in a foreign country.