Hallo everyone! I just finished my 5th week in Berlin and 4th week at my internship at LÆMON, and I hate to admit that time is flying by. Before this program, I thought that 8.5 weeks would be plenty of time and I may start to get homesick, but now I realize that it just keeps passing so quickly. This week, I experienced a lot of exhaustion, mostly due to my lack of sleep catching up with me. I was so scared of missing out on what Berlin has to offer that it all caught up to me and I had to chill out a little with the after-work activities. On Monday, we went to a German restaurant and I got Schnitzel again, so I can definitely understand why it is a popular German dish. Another fun thing I did during the week was meeting up with Britta, our contact at Intrax, and the person who organized everything for us on the German side of things. We hadn’t seen her since orientation week, so it was nice to catch up with her. We met at a beautiful biergarten at Tiergarten Park, and got to walk through a lot of pretty scenery.
I have made it a goal to try and experience a lot of the historical sights that Berlin has to offer, so on Saturday Kira and I went to the Wannsee Conference Villa. This beautiful villa-turned-museum was the location of a WWII meeting where German leadership made awful decisions regarding their policy towards the Jewish people. Reading about its history was definitely difficult, especially knowing that it happened right in the same building I was in, but it was interesting to hear about the how they started keeping a collection of Jewish people’s stories from the Holocaust so that it could never be hidden or buried from German history. Some of the historical places in this city can be emotionally taxing, but it is definitely worth trying to learn as much as possible while here.
At work this week, our bosses were out of town for a convention, so it was up to us to complete the tasks that they had left for us. These tasks have definitely contributed to the “hard skills” I have learned. Because I had never worked for a startup or taken entrepreneurship classes before, I had no idea all of the planning and effort that goes into being a startup. Researching venture capital firms gave me a good idea of what’s important to look for when searching for funding, the typical funding rounds and when they happen, and the different levels of investment you can receive as a growing company. Through translating and rewriting their business plan, I have also learned the process that goes into that. I never knew that I would need this skill, but I am so glad that I am learning the different sections and information that go into preparing this huge, detailed document.
As far as “soft skills”, I know that I will go back to Pittsburgh a more well-rounded worker than before. In my past internship, I was assigned a lot of repetitive tasks and did some writing on my own. This meant that I wasn’t collaborating with any of the workers. In this internship, Dylan and I are constantly working together on tasks to figure out how to split them up, or at deciding who is better fit to do the different jobs on our to do list. I am learning a lot about cooperation in the workplace, and also how to take constructive criticism and use it to better my work. I have always been a sensitive person, but I knew coming into this program that German workplaces are very critique-oriented. I have greatly improved my ability to take notes on my work and use them to create a better end product without getting upset, which will definitely help me be more receptive to criticism in future jobs. Something else that I have improved upon is my ability to work when I feel under pressure. Even though our workplace is very stress-free, I tend to feel a little bit of pressure when working on things as important as the business plan. I have been able to control this feeling and prevent myself from feeling under pressure by remembering that I am an intern, which means that I am not supposed to know everything already. By simply doing the job to the best of my ability and doing what I can to give my boss the best result, I should feel good. Being able to manage my stress before it becomes overwhelming will be a really important skill when it comes to possibly working as an intern in a larger company and having hard deadlines all the time.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to practice any global competencies in the workplace because everyone speaks English and we are not the only English-speaking interns there. I will say that solely being prepared for cross-cultural situations when in public is very important for me, though. I always have in the back of my mind that everyone is different and Berlin is a very culturally-diverse city, so I am open to any scenario that I could find myself in.