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 college has a program where students have to do an internship for six months in their final year. Since this would be my first exposure to the industrial field for such a long period, I wanted to pursue this with the best in industrial production. And so Germany was the easiest choice, known for its technical precision and work culture worldwide. I had previous experiences in manufacturing industries in India, but Schwind was in a completely different field than what I had experienced. Also, being one of the most successful in the field, Schwind was the best choice for me. The VISA category for an internship is not the standard student one, so I had to get a work permit which, thankfully was applied to and received by the helpful HR department at Schwind very efficiently, on my behalf.
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?
Well, I had been to Europe for tourism purpose previously, but living here is a big change. But a welcoming one. Almost everything like the culture, food, working of transportation is different. You might as well think of it as a new world here. This pushes you out of your comfort zone, but to balance it, I had amazing colleagues at Schwind who made it feel like I belonged here. You can call the first 10-15 days a little difficult, but with time it just got easier. There was no difficult part as such to my work here since everyone made an extra effort to help me understand and work here. The exciting part was that Schwind was relatively new to Lean, so you might as well work as the pulling person here, which sure does come with the benefits and roadblocks together making it one of a kind experience.
What did you learn? What tasks did you have during your internship?
My work was to introduce lean with new ideas and activities related to Lean Manufacturing. To sum up my tasks throughout the work here, it was to improve the efficiency of the production processes. Learnings were quite a few. Beginning from the technical aspects, management styles, compartmentalization of work, how to take the work forward one step at a time to, most importantly the famous work culture here, which of course is a combination of a lot of things, are the gems I have added to my collection. One learning I will definitely take back with me and try to replicate wherever I go, is the cheerful and stress free working style and the humbleness. I might not have worked with more than 10 people a day here, but I was greeted every day by more than 30 in general. This itself gives a boost to work and perform your best each day. Also, irrespective of the workload, people always had a cheerful nature and gave time to every single person. I would like to specially mention here that the head of production department, used to daily put in long hours of work, but even then, he listened to every Idea or work that I had, similar goes for the assistant production head too. Even the COO, who again is wanted by many people throughout the company daily, took out time from his busy schedule to lend an ear to my ideas, an intern’s ideas. This only shows how much valued the employees here are. I think this is what makes Schwind so great. When you have such dedicated and passionate people in your team, you are bound to succeed.
What did you do in your spare time? Have you made new friends?
Spare time, mostly the weekends, I used for short road trips to different neighbouring countries. This in itself was a fun and learning experience for I was able to learn from people from various cultures and beliefs. The breathtaking beauty of Europe! As for friends, yes I did make a few great friends here, who again are wonderful people!
What do you think about German food? Do the Germans have qualities that you find curious, funny or admirable?
Being an Indian vegetarian, I did take the various options I had for food, and none of them disappointed me. The wraps and falafel were what stood out the most. The top on my list from admirable qualities would be the caring and helpful nature people in Germany have. Right from my first day in Germany, where a random lady helped me at the train station, to my very own colleagues in marketing and production department helping me - from searching for a good accommodation to suggesting places to visit, this had me awestruck from the very beginning. I wish this quality is propagated throughout people! Funny in terms of difference was that in India, generally, if a person is elder to you, as a mark of respect, you stand up if that person is also standing when talking to you. In Germany, it is not the same. I happened to confuse my senior colleague a good 2-3 times about me standing up every time he came to talk to me, after which he laughingly told me the way it is in Germany, following which I followed the law of the land!
What did you miss the most when you were here? What will you miss when you are back in India?
Family would be my very first word here, the second food! What I will miss the most is the Schwind family I have here now. It amazes me; the strong bonds I have made with my colleagues here in such a short time. They will be dearly missed.
How do you want to continue your career? Would you like to work in ophthalmology?
I will join my family business after returning to India, followed by an MBA down the line. Well, ophthalmology is now quite familiar to me but still different from my current line of work. But sure, if fate has it, I would love to work in ophthalmology or a related field.
Would you recommend others to do an internship at Schwind?
Definitely! The people, the culture, technical expertise all stand out here at Schwind. This internship did not only help me learn from a professional point of view but also helped me improve as an individual. Might as well call this a life-changing experience for me and likewise for anyone who might do an internship here! Thank You!