During my time in Germany, I had the opportunity to work with Media-Saturn, which is one of the largest consumer electronics stores in Europe. I had an amazing experience with this company and found it really interesting to learn more about the company itself and how business is done in Germany. Through this project and working with my team, I was also able to develop crucial skills that I know will help me throughout my future career.
One of the first things that I noticed when working at a German company is how team-oriented everyone is and how the social aspect of work is very important. In the group that I worked in, everyone sat in one large room so that it was very easy to communicate with each other and run ideas by everyone on the team. Also, people took time out of their day to socialize much more than they do in the U.S.. Employees almost always went to lunch in groups and spent a long time just conversing with each other. One of the stereotypes that Germans have is that they are notoriously on time and they get mad if you show up late. It might have just been the company that I was working for but they were not uptight about showing up a couple minutes late and in fact, most of the time we never started on time.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about my time abroad was how I was able to develop professionally through this project. One of the most challenging aspects of the project is that you are working on the same thing for five weeks and working with the same people. This requires a lot of discipline to stay focused and it requires really good teamwork and communication.
One thing that I learned that helped us stay motivated and focused was to change up what we were doing every day, whether that be visiting a MediaMarkt store to generate new ideas or doing a speed brainstorm session.
One thing that I learned working in my team was that it was important to play to people’s strengths. One of us was really good at research, one was really good at coming up with ideas, and one was really good at pulling it all together. As we continued on in the project, we learned to rely on each other because we knew what each other’s strengths were.
Another thing that I took away from this project was learning how to think outside the box. I think that sometimes we are so trained to look at the obvious solution and stick with it but this project forced my team and I to look beyond all the simple ideas and come up with creative and out of the box ideas.
Finally, I feel much more confident interacting with people from another country because of my experience in Germany. Even though all the people we worked with spoke English, there were still some barriers to communication. There’s a lot of things that we have in the U.S. that don’t exist in Germany and vice versa so we had to become very good at explaining things such as what a Costco is.
Overall, I really enjoyed the project I worked on and the team I worked with. The employees at Media-Saturn were amazing. They were so friendly, helpful, and wanted to make sure we were getting as much out of our experience as we could. I am so happy with what my team accomplished during our time there and I know that I will take what I have learned and use it in my college career and my professional career.