This post was originally published in 2011. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
Graduation was right around the corner, and then – what next? Which was the right path for me? Apprenticeship? University? Both?
In my last year at school in Fritzlar, I made my way through the jungle of options, trying to finally sort out this tangle of questions.
After frantically searching around on the Internet and talking with friends and relatives, the idea came to me of doing some kind of internship. That brought me to the job portal of SMA Solar Technology AG, which has a subsidiary right near where I live. The attractive design of the pages, the company’s international focus, and the whole corporate structure appealed to me right away, and before I knew it, I found myself…
…not “only” there, but in the thick of things!
I arrived at 9 a.m. on the first day as a total stranger, but within a few hours I felt like a small part of the huge SMA family. After short briefings about safety, data security and work routines, the nine of us (interns and holiday workers) were issued our own photo ID cards, allowing us to enter almost every building. That gave us a sense of belonging right away, and we felt treated like colleagues and equals. This was brought home to me the next day, when I joined a tour of the Solar Factory and introduced myself as “just an intern.” The immediate response was “Nobody’s ‘just’ anything here; we’re all somebody!”
I had a pretty hard time finding my way around the huge campus at first; somehow, all the buildings looked alike. Luckily, people were friendly and helpful everywhere I went, telling me where to find a parking spot, a nearby supermarket, and even suggesting a great Chinese takeout place for lunch. I couldn’t believe how quickly I got used to the routine, and I never felt excluded.
Setting to work
For the next three weeks, I worked at Niestetal. I started out in Marketing, getting a firsthand look at the Digital Media area. My main job there was text and image processing on the computer, but I also researched a variety of small topics relating to social media. I even got to make a few small changes to update the home page.
In the second half of my internship, I joined the Employer Branding team. One of my assignments was to write this very report. Here too, I found a warm welcome, and I was allowed to sit in on plenty of meetings and appointments. This team’s responsibilities include maintaining the jobs portal and planning trade shows, school visits and an open house (SMA INSIGHT 4 School).
On the go with “Sunny Kids”
Every day’s a good day
Every day at SMA started with a cheerful smile and a pleasant hello. I was constantly amazed at how friendly people were and how respectfully they treated each other, not only on the campus but even when we went into town to eat. The fact that everybody is on a first-name basis also made it easier to settle in and get along really well. I liked my colleagues a lot, and the work environment was great. This job definitely has a high feel-good factor.
“… So how did it go?”
One thing I can say for sure: I really enjoyed my time at SMA, and I recommend an internship like this for anyone who’s still uncertain about the future. Even though I still haven’t decided 100 percent on one particular field, I know much more about the world of work than I did before. And I’m certainly in a better position to make decisions about pursuing a university education or apprenticeship. SMA is an employer with a future and unlimited opportunities, where you’ll never feel lonely and people are always willing to listen.