Alina Eisenbeiß and Carina Braitsch are trainees at KURT MEDER GMBH in Schwenningen – and now the two young women were given the opportunity to complete an internship of several weeks in England and South Africa.
International skills are becoming increasingly important for workers. That’s why KURT MEDER GMBH in Schwenningen has been giving its trainees the opportunity for many years now to gather valuable experience within the framework of an internship abroad. As for many of their predecessors before them at the Schwenningen spring manufacturer, a change of scenery was on the cards for two MEDER trainees again this year. The two young women are already well acquainted with their apprenticeships as industrial management assistants with additional qualifications in international business management with foreign languages. When told by their training supervisor about the possibility of spending several weeks as interns abroad, both were immediately hugely enthusiastic about the opportunity to get a taste of something different, to get to know another company, another country and to broaden their horizons.
But the experiences of the two MEDER trainees Carina and Alina couldn’t have been more different. Alina Eisenbeiß took part in "Go for Europe", a project organized every year since 2008 by the Chamber of Commerce.
After a preparatory seminar in Stuttgart, Alina headed off to London by plane. At her job location, which was in Plymouth, the young lady was put up by a host family. The first thing on the agenda in the following days was a bit of swotting: to polish up her English language skills, the trainee learning her profession at KURT MEDER GMBH in Schwenningen attended a language course, working in a group to practice spoken language, grammar and vocabulary.
The language course was followed by the three-week internship with an estate agent. "Concluding contracts, answering phone calls, checking the inventory of homes on the basis of protocols and viewings with clients were all part of my work" reports Alina. The glimpse into a completely different sector was particularly interesting for the intern. "The way people work was very different compared to Germany. I had the feeling that many things in England are much more personal and open." After work, Schwenningen-born Alina met up with other interns from France, Tunisia and Italy to go on outings and get to know the country and the people. These experiences will be part of Alina’s profitable contribution in her future daily work at KURT MEDER GMBH in Schwenningen. By now, she already has most of the written tests in her last year of training behind her. KURT MEDER GMBH will be taking her on full time after her training, where she will work – thanks no doubt in part to her experience abroad – in the technical sales department.
While Alina Eisenbeiß was busy organizing home viewings in the harsh British climate, Carina Braitsch was also gathering new experience thousands of kilometers away in South Africa. Carina was given the opportunity to spend six weeks with South African partner company "Capewell Springs". The contact with South Africa came about through the global network of the Kern-Liebers group of companies, which KURT MEDER GMBH is a part of. Unlike Alina Eisenbeiß, Carina Braitsch had quite a few things to organize in the run-up to her internship, including vaccinations and the study of the conditions for entry. On arriving in South Africa, the young lady in the second year of her training at MEDER immersed herself in a completely different world of everyday work. "Technically, the company is not quite up to European standards. Some of the machinery used for manufacturing is somewhat older," recalls the trainee. With 70 employees, the company was one of the smaller ones, so the MEDER trainee had the good fortune to get a glimpse into all areas of the company. In addition to experience in purchasing and sales, Carina Braitsch also had the opportunity to get a taste of quality assurance, electroplating and company headquarters. "My colleague were very friendly in including me in the team, and we went on quite a few outings in our free time, so I had the opportunity to really get to know the African food and the culture in general," reports Carina. Her internship was a great experience, she says, and not only from a tourist’s perspective – it also left valuable impressions with a view to her future working life: "I had many different insights into the way people work and workplace morale, and into the political system of a country still divided in two," says Carina in conclusion.
And because the intern wanted to take appropriate leave of her new South African colleagues, there was a Black Forest gateau – how could it be otherwise – at the farewell party.
Back at KURT MEDER GMBH in Schwenningen, the two trainees draw a positive conclusion in every respect from their stay abroad. "I would repeat the adventure any time – it was a great experience and an enrichment of my knowledge and personality," says Alina Eisenbeiß. Carina Braitsch agrees: "I know now that German standards are very much to be appreciated, and in terms of internationally-oriented work, I have a better understanding of why some things go the way they go."
"Experience abroad and international skills have been requirements in working life for a long time now. This no longer applies only to the academic world, it also increasingly applies to skilled workers at companies. This is particularly important for an exporting state like Baden-Württemberg. And that's why for many years now, we've been offering our trainees the opportunity to gather additional experience as part of an internship abroad," say Magnus Mauch, Managing Director of KURT MEDER GMBH, explaining the background as to why he gladly supports his trainees in this project.
The service point "Go for Europe - Internships Abroad for Trainees" has been supporting the internationalization of vocational training in the German dual studies system since 2008. Many companies from the region have already successfully participated in it. After the many positive experiences of recent years, the people at the Schwenningen spring manufacturer are confident that they are on the right path towards internationality. More trainees will follow in the coming years - including those in commercial areas - by venturing abroad for an internship.