Halfway Through Berlin


This past week has been very tiring for me but also filled with lots of interesting events. Over the weekend I visited the Jewish Museum. It was a very informational museum and I’m glad I visited, however, the information is profound and I felt it weighing on me as I walked through the different exhibits. One of the installations, the “Memory Void,” had over 10,000 metal plates with faces cut out laid on the floor. The artist had dedicated them to the “innocent victims of war and violence.” The faces weren’t specific to the people but I still felt the overwhelming power that was invoked through this installation. I’d like to go back to look at the second half more closely because I was feeling emotionally heavy after spending so long in the museum. This week after work, we also caught up with our internship coordinator and talked about how our internships were going and what the companies were doing. Lastly, a few of us went to an authentic German restaurant being Cologne to Berlin. The food was really good and I may end up taking my family there when they come to visit!

Memory Void

My internship, thus far, has been working on a project to speed up updating a spreadsheet of data. My supervisor wanted to be able to look at the information presented in a number of ways without having to update several different spreadsheets or continue to update information manually. He gave me a lot of freedom with how to approach the problem because he wanted to hear what my initial thoughts were for the project. I presented to him a few workbooks that were linked with formulas and would require him to download the data each time he wanted to update it and paste it into a workbook that was already set up. This would significantly speed up the process from entering the numbers manually, but he still wanted more efficient. Then he presented the idea of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and macros. He knew from my initial interview that I don’t know VBA although he wanted a fully automated way to update the information at the click of a button. This type of solution requires utilizing VBA.

Some of the soft skills I have developed most are critical thinking and problem solving as well as patience. I’ve had limited experience with coding in the past so I knew that coding in VBA was going to be difficult. The critical thinking and problem solving was necessary to think of appropriate solutions to what my supervisor was looking for as well as the execution once I had planned the solution. As with most coding, there are several ways to reach the end goal. There were many ways to approach the problem but I created my own solution. While developing a working solution was very rewarding, it required a lot of patience to get to the final solution. Often when I code, there are several errors in the process. Additionally, I find that I will fix one issue and another will arise. This takes a lot of patience not to get frustrated with the code because it is discouraging to work for something and then it doesn’t work. However, I think I demonstrated significant critical thinking, problem solving, and patience while working on this project to code a VBA solution to the data automation. In conjunction with the soft skills, I also gained hard skills. I started my internship very comfortable with Microsoft Excel but my internship has made me feel even more comfortable. I expanded the functions and applications that I had previously known in Excel and most importantly I added using VBA and macros. I am nowhere close to writing advanced VBA code but I got a good start with this project.  

Overall, there haven’t really been situations that I would have to navigate cross-cultural situations but I think just having an open mind and a good attitude puts me in a good position to be receptive of these situations. It’s really interesting because my company speaks English and some of the employees are from the US. I’m not sure that everyone knows German fluently but they speak to me in English and occasionally in German without thinking about it and more times than not, I understand what they’re saying with my limited German language knowledge. It’s wild that we’re already half way done our internships, but I’m so excited to see what I can learn the second half.