How did you get the idea to do an internship in Germany? And why did you choose Schwind? Which requirements do you have to meet (visa, work permit etc.)?
My parents are the Australian and New Zealand distributors for Schwind. As such, I have known many members of the Schwind family for a significant portion of my life. I had definitely been considering international experience during my studies to allow me the opportunity to grow and immerse myself in another culture. Driven by this, I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to reach out to Schwind. From this, the marketing internship I undertook allowed me to gain international experience while also allowing me to learn what it was like to work for a well-renowned company.
I applied for an internship visa through the German consulate in Sydney so I would be able to work in Germany.
How were the first days here? What did you like and what was especially difficult, at work and in general in Germany? What was particularly exciting?
The first days were really exciting! I was introduced to all the departments, met many welcoming staff members and was given a clear briefing of the work I would be doing over my internship. I especially enjoyed creating content that later appeared on social media or projects I contributed to. Even now back home in Australia, I see these posts and get a little surge of pride. The language barrier was tricky as I don't know German, so sitting in meetings and conversing with people on the street, bus drivers or store clerks was challenging. I was so grateful for everyone who was kind enough to speak in English and give me summaries of a German conversation to make sure I wasn't getting lost. It was super exciting getting to experience a different culture, immerse myself in festivals, visit neighbouring towns and understand Germany's charm.
What did you learn? What tasks did you have during your internship?
I definitely improved my skills in Excel and also realised how central it is to everyday office work when doing things like market research or planning and organising large conferences. I also learnt how to create and organise social media campaigns, both organic and budget-backed, through tools like Buffer.
My main tasks consisted of creating content for social media, both written and visual, completing market research of competitors, distributors and potential customers, and finally liaising with other companies and contacts in the organisation of large ophthalmology conference 'ESCRS'. These tasks gave me a broad taste of marketing and sales and allowed me to see how even small tasks contribute to a final product.
What did you do in your spare time? Have you made new friends?
When I wasn't working, I was making the best of my free time travelling and meeting friends in different European cities. I was so surprised how close European countries and major cities were, so I tried to get away every weekend to a new place since in Australia it takes an eight-hour car drive to get to the next state or 'province'!
When I wasn't travelling, I was exploring cities near Aschaffenburg and Frankfurt with my new friends that I made at work as well as my host family! Even though many of my colleagues were older than me, I found it was so easy to get along with everyone since they were so welcoming and friendly. They were so excited to show me around their country and take me to interesting events such as wine festivals, ABBA cover bands and Oktoberfest! I still chat to all those I met, and I know those I spent my three months with will continue to be my friends and I hope to see them all again soon!
What do you think about German food? Do the Germans have qualities that you find curious, funny or admirable?
I do love a good rindswurst! The food is definitely delicious, but unfortunately for me, I struggled as there is always so much of it! If you order a schnitzel, it also comes with a full-sized salad, chips and heaps of bread, it's just crazy!
My favourite German trait was how there is a different way to say thank you emphasising the 'you'. In English, I would say thank you but in German "Danke dir" replaces the usual "Dankeschön", which I thought was too cute.
What did you miss the most when you were here? What will you miss when you are back in Australia?
I definitely missed my family; we are very close and being separate from them was tricky. If it hadn't been for Facetime, I might have gone insane, so I'm super grateful for the technology that kept us connected!
Now that I'm back home, I definitely miss the freedom of being able to travel anywhere with a last-minute decision. At home, I always have university assessments which limit my ability to do this. Still, regardless I'm going to try to do this more now that I am back in Australia.
How do you want to continue your career? Would you like to work in ophthalmology?
After I complete my studies, my goal is to find a graduate role in Australia that allows me to pursue my passions in digital marketing. Even though I enjoyed my time at Schwind in the ophthalmology industry, I want to pursue a job in the broader technology industry, such as in a start-up, which has greater flexibility and autonomous work.
Would you recommend others to do an internship at Schwind?
Schwind is a welcoming and accommodating company who are willing to let you get involved with projects and both learn as well as contribute as much as you can during your time with them. Everyone was extremely friendly, always willing to chat in the breakroom, and I will definitely miss them being back at home. Thank you so much for this fantastic opportunity and the experience of a lifetime!