Fun Time with My Colleagues!

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              This is my seventh week in Berlin, Germany. Internship has been an interesting experience for me. I sent out 781 emails to Chinese companies to advertise my company’s services. However, only two of them reached out to me. This is not a good sign because my boss definitely hoped for more replies from our potential clients. I could see his “desire” to get more clients. When I told him I got no reply after sending out my first 300 emails, he asked me to modify my email and send it to his Chinese colleague for proofreading. This is his way to ensure that our email will better reach and fit the need of our potential clients. Unfortunately, two replies are all we could get. They were both asking about the pricing of our services. Because my reply to them will be decisive if they will give the business to us, so I requested my boss to edit my draft and his Chinese colleague to proofread before sending the reply emails. I understand that if I messed up these two emails, I might lose my company two clients and potential income. But the reality is, even I did my best to send them my best possible reply, I have not heard from them for 1 week. I am very afraid that they no longer interested to pay for our company’s services. I feel bad for incapable of securing at least one client for my company. I feel like I am wasting my company’s resources more than I am generating benefits for it.

              While waiting for reply from potential clients, my boss assigned me with translation work. He doubts that an English to Chinese translation was done using Google Translate and thus inaccurate. He wanted me to check the accuracy of the translation. The translation subject was 11 sentences of German law. Surprisingly, the translation was relatively accurate; only 2 sentences were partially incorrect and 1 sentence was completely wrong while others were all accurate. I am amazed by how technology has developed where Google Translate can deliver translation with high accuracy. My father made fun of me if I did not find out any problem from that translation, my company no longer needs me because I am no better than and replaceable by Google Translate. Besides that, my boss also had me prepare a Chinese power point presentation of Berlin real estate for his clients. I was given original documents with details of the properties in English, and I had to summarize them into concise Chinese presentation. The hardest part of this assignment was to deliver a presentation that appeals to my boss; I kept thinking about which design, theme, color, photos and orientation my boss likes and what information he thinks are important and necessary to be included. I have not had a chance to get his feedback yet. I am curious about his comment on my presentation.

              On top of working in the office, I also enjoyed spending time with my colleagues outside. Last Friday, my boss invited us for a lunch. He came up to all of us and asked us to go for lunch with him without prior notice. We went to a nearby Indian restaurant. Because it was a free treat for all of us, we all had lunch set. I had mango chicken lunch set; it was chicken in mango flavored curry served with Indian rice. When I mixed the curry with rice, the rice which was dry turned damp and soft. The combination was very flavorful; I liked it so much! However, the mango chicken was different from what I was picturing it to be. Because of my Chinese upbringing, I thought it would be chicken with thick mango sauce; anyway, the mango curry was still very delicious. Besides, my boss ordered a big plate of salad for sharing. He put it on the middle of our table, but no one took it. Perhaps they are not into vegetables, but salad is my favorite. I felt so awkward to be the first and only person who took the salad; luckily, my boss also had some salad later.

Lunch with boss and coworkers. My boss is the handsome man in white shirt!

              Moreover, I went to a flea market last Sunday to support my coworker who was selling there. It was her first time selling at a flea market. She and her friends put together their used items and sell them under the same stand. It was a smart idea because herself might not have enough items to display on a stand; combining their items together will fill up the stand and will look more appealing to the shoppers. I enjoyed my time there. I helped her when her stand was busy and talked to her for a while when the sale was slow. She also showed me the huge public water tap; she had to pull up and push down the long handle to pump up the ground water. Overall, it was a good bonding time with my coworker. Then, she recommended me to check out a famous restaurant serving good “flammkuchen”/flame cake. It is very similar to thin crust pizza, but the crust is thinner and crispier. I had a flammkuchen with rucola, eggplant, cheese, ham and honey dressing. It was too mouth-watering and put me on a dilemma to get a second one. I will definitely check out this flammkuchen place again!

Supporting my coworker at flea market
Flammkuchen! Must try in Germany!!!

              To be honest, this internship is my first time working in a professional environment. Hence, I cannot compare the difference between the work culture here and that of in the US. However, I do notice a very interesting work culture in my company which is flexibility. Every employee can come to work and leave at anytime as long as he or she works for 8 hours a day or completes her work for the day. Depends on the contract my coworkers have, some of them work only 40 hours a month; if they work 8 hours a day, they only have to work for 5 days every month. However, they have the discretion of deciding which day and how long they want to work. One of my coworker worked 8 hours for 5 days early in the month; now, second half of the month, she does not have to show up because she has met the contract work time requirement. On the other hand, I have another coworker who chose to work less hour a day, usually between 3 to 5 hours; thus, she will have to show up more times in a month. Because of this flexibility that my boss offers, we are working at our own pace while maintaining efficiency because we have to finish our work to call it a day. In my opinion, this flexible work culture is great. It ensures productivity and allows personal freedom. This is attractive to those with family and kids; they have the control and get to arrange their time juggling work and housework. If I start my own business in the future, I will implement this flexibility.