A Week of New Experiences

Hallo! It’s hard to believe that I have been in Berlin for almost an entire week. After arriving Tuesday afternoon, I went to a welcome dinner hosted by our orientation leader, Britta, and met the other students in the program. Starting at 9am Wednesday, we have been moving nonstop from one orientation activity to the next! We began with German classes in the morning, followed by different things each day. We toured a leftist magazine called the Taz on Wednesday, which has won awards for its sustainable and eco-friendly building. We then visited a cool area of Berlin that is new and growing. Thursday afternoon, we learned more about industry and labor laws in Germany at IG Metall. It was interesting to learn about the differences between labor regulations and unions in Germany and the US. Following this, we went to the new Berlin exhibit at the Humbolt Forum, a newly reconstructed palace that was destroyed during WWII. The exhibit was really interactive and provided a cumulative history on the city of Berlin, which was interesting to hear as someone new to the city. Our last day of orientation was Friday, which we spent learning about crime prevention in Berlin. We had a discussion about the differences between German and US laws, especially about arms regulation, with Berlin police officers. It was cool to experience different points of view on various important topics in society and crime. We then explored the former Tempelhof airfield, and even got to stand on the old runway. I have spent most of the weekend recuperating and preparing for my internship to start tomorrow morning.

I will be working at LÆMON this summer, a small jewelry startup that is more than jewelry. They sell high-tech bracelets with alarm and GPS features for women to feel safer and be able to contact the authorities easily in scary situations. The startup scene in Berlin is highly saturated, and Berlin was even called a “startup city” by my boss in our meeting. My position is as a finance intern alongside Dylan Anton, so we will be focused on the company’s financials and strategies to gain investment for the future.

In finance, there are a few competencies that I find very important to succeed, but some even more so because of the company at which I am working. Because LÆMON is so new and still developing, there is a lack of finance knowledge and experience within the company. Dylan and I will be expected to jump in quickly and do our part to complete financial tasks and bring new perspectives on financials to LÆMON. I will most definitely need to be adaptable in order to succeed this summer. Though I know the focus of my job will be finance, there is still a lot of unknown about what I will be asked to do. It is my job to complete any tasks that I am given and maybe even adjust what I currently know in order to adapt to the needs of LÆMON.

Openness and ingenuity are competencies that go hand in hand with adaptability in a startup, or even just as an intern. I chose this internship to learn, and I need to be able to welcome every opportunity I am given to do so. This means taking on a task that I may not think falls under my knowledge, but attempting to provide the best result I can anyways. In Berlin, bosses love attitudes directed more towards creating work for yourself instead of asking for more work. Britta said that the best thing to do when you complete a project is to brainstorm a new idea before going back to your boss and telling them you are done. In a startup, especially, I think that having the creativity to propose new projects to my boss and bring more ideas to the table is a necessary competency. In the US, I feel like it is more common for internships to be set in stone and consist of specific projects assigned by the boss, but Berlin bosses really want to see what you can do to better the company without having to ask.

Going into this experience, I plan to keep an open mind in all aspects of this internship. The best way to learn is to be as useful for the company as I can, which means giving my best effort in everything I do. I truly do not know what to expect for this first week, but I look forward to writing about it in my next blog post. I hope that you will stick around and stay updated with me as I detail the next eight weeks of my summer and this amazing experience!

Auf Wiedersehen,

Caitlin Jarrell

Statue of Frederick the Great outside Humbolt University
Oberbaum Bridge on the Spree River