As part of the third year of my industrial administrator traineeship, I was given a very special opportunity. This summer I had the chance to fly out to our offices in Istanbul to complete my five-week long internship.  It was really exciting, and not only for me: I was the first trainee from MANN+HUMMEL to be given the chance to go abroad as part of my traineeship.

But how did it all come about? It actually happened relatively spontaneously. One day I was talking to our training supervisor Ms Fritz and I expressed a desire to complete part of my practical training abroad. As I have Turkish roots, Turkey was of course my first choice; the fact that I have Turkish citizenship meant that organising everything would be very straightforward. There was also an added linguistic benefit, but more about that later.

I think one of the main reasons why I was able to make my internship a success was that I am very proactive and organised everything myself – from accommodation and travel to making arrangements with the specialist departments involved. Ms Fritz supported me from the very beginning. For example, she sent an email to the plant manager in Turkey as soon as I asked about going. When he replied saying that he saw no reason why I wouldn’t be able to complete my internship there, I set about organising my stay.

Life in Istanbul – a tourist hotspot

We quickly agreed that the summer holidays would be the best time to go, so that I wouldn’t miss any training. That meant that my internship fell right in the middle of the peak tourist season, which of course did little to help my accommodation search. But I eventually found a suitable place to stay via the website Airbnb.

Istanbul is a fascinating city. It’s never boring and never quiet. I lived on the Asian side, which is also where MANN+HUMMEL’s offices are located. I also prefer the general atmosphere there, as you can experience the ‘real’ Turkish side of Istanbul. Of course, the European side is beautiful, but it is very much geared towards holidaymakers.

Before I had only ever visited Istanbul as a tourist – Until then, I only have been visiting Instanbul as a tourist. To actually go and live there, and to experience everyday life, was certainly a whole new adventure. It was also a challenge for me in terms of the language. Although my knowledge of Turkish was fine for everyday conversations, when it came to more in-depth discussions I often struggled to find the right words. My Turkish skills have improved significantly as a result of my time abroad. What’s more, as English was used in the office to discuss technical matters, I was able to boost my language skills on two fronts and expanded my English vocabulary as well.

Part of the team from day one

My colleagues in Istanbul supported me from the very beginning and offered help when I needed it. Generally speaking, the office was very multicultural, not just in terms of the many different nationalities that work there, but also thanks to the host of experiences different staff members had enjoyed abroad. Almost all of my Turkish colleagues had lived, studied and worked abroad. The best thing was that everyone had been somewhere different, so it often felt as though our office was filled with people from all over the world.

It didn’t take me very long to find my feet and I never really felt like I was alone. I also did a lot outside of work, mostly with my fellow interns, including visiting some of Istanbul’s most famous sights. My personal highlight was a shop run by a famous ice cream brand where you could create your own ice lolly with your chosen mix of flavours.

A working day at MANN+HUMMEL Istanbul

I really enjoyed the work itself in Istanbul, mainly because I was working in a relatively small sales office with 15 other people. This meant that tasks were not clearly delegated to specific departments as they are in Germany. Instead individuals had a very broad range of duties. I was therefore able to get to know a number of different areas and was required to complete many tasks on my own. For example, before the daily morning team meeting, I prepared the figures that were discussed and used as a basis to plan the day’s agenda.

My role in Istanbul was in logistics and included signing for deliveries, managing and monitoring logistical processes, and independently placing orders for other company offices. Customer service was also part of my job, which means I was able to practice my client-facing skills.

What I found interesting was that everything is much smaller than in Germany – including in terms of volume. After working at the company headquarters, I was used to ordering everything in huge volumes. Being in Istanbul allowed me to see things from a different perspective and to gain an outsider’s view of it all. I now see my work here in Germany with a fresh pair of eyes because I have a better understanding of the overall context.

This experience of living and working abroad has helped me develop in every respect, both professionally and personally. I have changed a lot and became  much more independent. I now feel much more confident in my linguistic abilities and have made some valuable contacts. My desire to go abroad again, perhaps for a longer stay, is now even greater than before 🙂

Thank you MANN+HUMMEL and, above all, Ms Fritz for making this wonderful experience possible! And for new trainees, I have this message: show initiative and be proactive in making your wishes come true – then perhaps, you too, will be able to turn your dream of an internship abroad into reality.