The last week and a half has been a whirlwind! I arrived a few days before the program with one of my best friends who is also another student in IIP Berlin, and we spent two days living with his host family from high school in a small German town called Kindsbach, just outside of Frankfurt. Over these two days, we got to enjoy delicious home-cooked German food, learn new card games (Wizards became our favorite), and even take a day trip to the beautiful city of Heidelberg! I was so thankful for the hospitality that this family showed us. Before heading to Berlin to meet up with the rest of the group, my friend and I also had the opportunity to spend a day in Frankfurt, which was a really cool experience!
We then finally arrived in Berlin and met all of the rest of the students. I can honestly say that I have never bonded so quickly with a group of people in my life before. I am so happy that I am able to share this experience with such a great group of people. We spent the next week exploring all that Berlin has to offer from museums and historical sites to cute cafes and restaurants. I have fallen in love with this city so quickly and am so amazed how well I already know my way around.
After spending a week exploring Germany, this week I finally started my internship. Unlike the other students, I am not working in Berlin. I am actually working in Potsdam, an adorable town just outside of the city. At first, I was quite nervous about the commute (it takes a bus, a train, and a tram to get to my office). However, even though it can take a while, Germany’s transportation system is extremely efficient, and I actually enjoy my time on the train as it allows me the chance to observe the locals and try to test myself to see if I can understand their conversations and if my nine years of German actually paid off. When I first arrived to my company, Derdack, I was fascinated by how modern it was. There are multiple collaborative spaces filled with beanbag chairs and chalkboards. As Derdack is an IT company, these open spaces are meant to spark creativity among the developers. My first day, my supervisor also introduced me to all of the employees. The company is quite small with only about 20 employees. However, everyone was quite friendly and happy to see a new face in the office.
One thing that definitely surprises me about the set-up of my company is how there are no personal offices for employees. Everyone sits a big table within their department. The coolest thing is that the CEO, Mr. Derdack, actually sits right next to me! This is quite different from the setup of most American companies. Last summer, I worked at an IT company in Pittsburgh, and even as an intern, I sat in my own office away from everyone else. It really is a testament to the nature of the company and their dynamic and ever-changing goals and ideas. They are constantly trying to bring something new and creative to the market before their competitors.
As for my actual internship, I will be working in Event Marketing. The first day, I was given a structured list of deliverables that I will ultimately provide by the end of my time here. Although there are clear directives, there is a ton of flexibility in how I want to approach each goal. I have actually been spending the last two days working on a presentation for my supervisor where I will detail my goals, plans, and timeline for this summer. My supervisor is very young, kind, and approachable. Her first words to me were, “I want to make this a valuable and worthwhile experience for you.”
Unlike some of the other students in my program, my internship is 40 hours a week. This has definitely been a tough adjustment especially because my commute itself can take up to an hour each way. However, I realize that this is something that I will have to get used to. I am looking to go into consulting which has extremely long hours, so it is good that I will have this experience now to prepare me for my future. Overall, I am excited to see how the rest of my internship plays out and what I can give back to this company. My time here in Berlin is only beginning!