A GERMAN INTERNSHIP STORY — NAIMA
Why did you choose AIESEC?
I chose AIESEC to go abroad as I have been a member myself in Germany. During that time, I discovered what AIESEC stands for, that we have big objectives like enabling young people to become responsible leaders and contribute to a positive future for the whole world. I wanted to be part of that and also give the programme fee — which I would have needed to pay to other ‘internship organizations’ too — to an organization that deserves it as the purpose is a good one. Ah, and of course, there were good offers in the Opportunities Portal 🙂
How is the working culture in Singapore different from the one in your country?
I have been working in a start-up with only Non-Singaporeans which is why I think that I can not really answer this question from my own experiences as work in this company differs extremely from what my friends told me about experiences in bigger, more hierarchical organizations. Here in the start-up, hierarchies are flat. I can tell my boss when I think he’s wrong, I can tell him when a task he assigns doesn’t seem useful or logical to me. This, I heard, is often not possible in big companies here as the boss is seen as an authoritative person. This differs from the work culture in Germany. Of course, some bosses think they are always right, but good bosses appreciate those employees most, that question the boss, that criticize how things are done, giving new ideas at the same time. In some big companies here, as my friends here told me, bosses can’t handle this directness and ‘criticism’. That’s a bottleneck for progress.
Here in the start-up, work and the rest of the life are getting ‘one thing’. People are on their phones during work quite often or are playing FIFA to get their minds free after tough discussions. In Germany, we often have the opinion ‘work first — fun after’ (which doesn’t mean work can’t be fun though!). So, we rather are efficient while we are at work, in a regular job, we work from 8 am to 4.30 pm with 30 minutes of lunch included. Facebook on the job is not allowed, checking the phone for private purposes is not appreciated. Then at 4.30 pm we go home, we have hobbies like playing in a football club, people focus more on their leisure time and family. Work and money are not that central in life and a ‘great career’ for many people doesn’t only mean making a lot of money. For example, my parents’ dream for my career is that I am happy with my job and that it fulfills me. If that would have meant becoming an artist or a street worker, that would be completely fine for them. In my experience, in Singapore ’career’ is more associated with a good job in the economy and earning a lot of money.
What is the biggest challenge you had to face during your time in Singapore?
My biggest challenge appeared directly at the beginning of my stay here. At work, I was thrown in the middle of a project and on my third day of work had to construct an interview guideline assessing a software prototype (which I had never seen before) out of scratch and without it having been controlled by my boss, needed to lead the interviews with our client watching me.
This was a challenge, but amazing! I loved getting so much responsibility so early and appreciate this opportunity that AIESEC gave me.
How does this experience contribute to your career goals?
My goal is, to find a job that is fun and meanwhile making money. So, I found out that both are possible in the field of my internship, that it’s a very interesting one. I did apply for a Master's Degree now (needed in Europe) which operates in this field. And, of course, as the company hired me full-time after the internship, I got my first job here in Singapore and already make work experience here which will also contribute to getting a great and fun job in the future (looks good in the CV, too, I guess 🙂 ).
Would you, and if why, recommend an internship abroad to your peers?
100% recommended. Working in a different culture and work culture, enables you to find, define and develop your own strengths while discovering opportunities and maybe areas for improvement that you never knew about. It shows you new ways to tackle challenges and makes you also appreciate what already works well and what you like about your own country. It is sometimes like a ‘playground’ — you know, that you won’t work here forever and as you get the big task assigned (you might not get in your home country) you can really try yourself out with the freedom to fail. I always thought this is kind of an AIESEC phrasing ‘the freedom to fail’ — but it’s so true! You’re in this new country, you can define how you arise here, you can work and discover so much stuff and try yourself out.
And of course, living in another country is so exciting! Discovering the country you live in in depth which traveling often doesn’t allow you to, is amazing and eventually will make you find a second home abroad. You also get to know people from all over the world. It’s just good times, fun times while learning a lot and boosting your career — so again — 100% recommended 🙂
What in your opinion sets our young generation apart from previous ones?
In my opinion, our generation in this globalized world has more than ever the opportunity to work and live a global lifestyle. By doing so, we have the responsibility to support the world in going on the right track in the future. Worldwide problems and crises are getting more complex. And we can’t ignore them as we hear of them in the news or in our own research online. It’s our task — especially with our generation being jetsetters more than any generation before us — to contribute to a positive future. This can be through volunteering, through having a global mindset in the job, and also to support in the integration of foreigners in our own countries and being a bit more social instead of only competitive.
As well, our young generation is set apart from previous ones through the technological opportunities, through the world being globalized and connected also there. We have to try to make use of it in a positive way instead of allowing people to be recruited online for terrorism or for spreading their racist thoughts or for discriminating against others (e.g.). There is this threat, but there is also this opportunity. We don’t know what lies ahead, but our task is also to stay up to date about technological issues and make use of them with a global mindset.
-Article contributed by our exchange participant, Naima