"I'm an intern here, but my opinion is heard and valued."
Raphael is doing his technical college entrance qualification at the vocational college in Leverkusen. He does the one-year student internship, which he also completes at the same time, at the Krahnen GmbH plant. The company has locations in Bergisch Gladbach and Cologne and manufactures industrial vacuum cleaners.
Although they also have something of a vacuum cleaner like the ones we use at home, the vacuum cleaners from cranes are used in potentially explosive areas. So they don't suck up fluff and dust, but, for example, petrol, kerosene, acids or alkalis. The company therefore ensures that people in other companies can work safely at their workplace.
Raphael discovered and found the internship at Krahnen through friends. He has been there for six months now and is getting to know all sorts of commercial areas. We met him at Krahnen.
What do you particularly enjoy about your internship?
In fact, it is the work itself that I particularly enjoy. I learn a lot of new things and learn a lot about the world of work. I haven't had a lot of experience with that yet, so that helps me a lot. The team here is really great. You always support each other. I'm an intern here, but my opinion is heard and valued.
What does your working day at Krahnen look like?
I arrive in the morning, boot up my PC, check my e-mails, do general fixed tasks that I have and otherwise I talk to colleagues and see what needs to be done for the day. There's always something to do here.
Do you have fixed areas in which you work?
I'm changing departments in the company. Of course, it depends on what needs to be done and where. But I can also help shape it. If I say now, for example, that I don't want to go into purchasing at all, then that will be accepted here and I can support in the area where I would like to get involved and what I personally find exciting.
Have you done internships before?
Yes, I did various other internships in manual trades beforehand.
What worries you most when it comes to your own career choice?
Of course, what I will or would like to do professionally in the end. For a long time it was unclear to me where I wanted to go. It's still not entirely clear to me at the moment. The internship now also helps me to find out again whether I want to work in the commercial area or not.
Doing internships in different areas definitely helps me personally with this decision. For example, in eighth grade we had careers exploration, where we looked at different jobs. It also helps me to get information on the internet. I find information days at school helpful, where not just one job is presented, but where many jobs are presented and you can get more information from the companies you are interested in.
In your opinion, what should change in career orientation? What would make it easier for you to start your professional life?
Sometimes I find it difficult because many employers expect us young people to have a lot of experience that we simply don't have. And I think it would be so much easier if we could all be more honest with each other. If it is enough to send an "honest" CV as it is. I don't like it when I have to present my resume as if I'm the best at everything just so that it looks interesting and doesn't end up in the trash.
I would find it so much easier if employer expectations were a little more realistic given what I can bring to the table as a young person at my age.
Ever thought about it?
"I would find it so much easier if employer expectations were a little more realistic, given what I can bring to the table as a young person at my age."
What have you learned about working life during your internship so far?
Above all, dealing with the various colleagues. And, of course, what it's like and what it feels like to work eight hours a day. You don't have a single task, so you finish it at home like you do at school and then do the next task. You always have tasks that continue. In general, you just get to know how things work in working life on a daily basis.
Did anything surprise you? For example, is something different than you imagined?
Well, I didn't have any really clear ideas beforehand. However, I was definitely surprised that, as an intern, I am heard and valued in what I do. I am also entrusted with important tasks. I hadn't really expected that. It's like that here, I'm entrusted with these tasks, I can always ask questions, I can always freely say what I think and mean.
Do you already have an idea of what to do after your internship here?
Then it's on to school. My plan at the moment is to do the general Abitur after the Fachabi and then I'll think about whether I'll study or start an apprenticeship. That's not entirely clear to me yet.
How do you perceive the way the people here at Krahnen treat each other?
So it's always respectful. You can also have fun together. It's a very family environment. That is also very important to me. Of course, there are sometimes disagreements and then it's about representing one's own point of view, but that's quickly clarified among each other.
What advice would you give to other young people?
Career orientation and career choice is not always easy. I think it's important to find something that you enjoy and enjoy yourself. Because when you have a job that you don't enjoy, you spend a lot of your time doing something that annoys you.
I would also advise being open-minded towards colleagues, new tasks and other things that professional life entails. I also think it's important to develop social skills, otherwise you won't get any further personally. It is also helpful to learn to become more and more independent. Because in working life you can't always be taken by the hand.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I do a lot of sports in my free time. That's a good balance for me. Since I only have school two days a week at the moment and am at work three days, the homework is manageable and I have enough free time. I also find social contacts super important, i.e. spending time with my friends.
What are your working hours like during your internship?
I work at the company Monday to Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I am at school on Thursday and Friday.
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