Sometimes it is unbelievable how our decisions take us to new professional and personal heights which we would never expect. One of my best decisions during my academic time was choosing to work as an intern for MANN+HUMMEL. During my internship, I discovered that, whilst the textbook concepts I learnt at university were relevant and applicable to my day-to-day work, gaining practical experience opened my eyes to what “real world manufacturing” was actually like.

Learning the language – twice

My first challenge when I arrived in Germany was to learn the language. I could speak some of the basics but I can still remember the days when my vocabulary let me down – especially in everyday situations such as when I needed to buy some clothes hangers in a local store. It took some gesturing to get what I wanted! Although 75% of my lectures were held in English, the rest were in German so my languages skills had to improve rapidly. After trying to master formal German (Hochdeutsch) at university, I was confronted with the local dialect during my time at MANN+HUMMEL in Speyer; I had another set of vocabulary to learn in a very short length of time.

Support and guidance throughout

I can’t stress enough how comfortable I felt at MANN+HUMMEL – I remember thinking throughout my time, “This is somewhere I can work“. My internship gave me valuable insights into many areas of the business. I could use the knowledge of mechatronics and production logistics I had learned at university to their full effect. I was given the freedom to think outside the box as well as to make changes on my own in order to improve processes and procedures.

However, the main impression of my time at MANN+HUMMEL was the positive attitude of supervisors and colleagues. I spent the first five months of my internship in Ludwigsburg under the guidance of Karsten Müller, Director of Product Management – Automotive Aftermarket, who had initially convinced me to apply for the position. He helped me by creating an atmosphere of reflection and went on to encourage me with his time, resources and techniques.

In Speyer, Markus Scheerle, the Head of Plant, took time to meet with me and congratulate me on some product development work I had completed. His interest in the students working for the company was a testament to his enthusiasm in encouraging the next generation of engineers.

Future plans

As I mentioned at the start of this article, undertaking an internship at MANN+HUMMEL was an excellent decision. The experience I gathered helped me with my thesis on production logistics. I will be graduating soon and I am still considering my next career step. I would prefer to stay in Germany or another European country to increase my international experience. However, whatever I decide to do, I know I have a solid foundation thanks to my time with MANN+HUMMEL.