A picture of me wearing German soccer gear surfaced on Facebook right after Germany played the US in the World Cup (below). The picture was from the first game Germany played against Ghana, but all my friends thought I had rooted against the US and, needless to say, a firestorm ensued. I was jokingly called a traitor for a couple days, but I ran a relatively successful PR campaign (twitter, snapchat, etc.) to prove my loyalty to the USA. I’ve loved being in Europe for the World Cup, and even though my loyalty lies with the Red, White, and Blue, cheering for Deutschland in every other game has been a great addition to an already great summer.
Today was the last day of my internship, and I can’t believe it’s over. After first walking through the doors of Friendsurance eight weeks ago, the day has finally come to get sentimental and mushy gushy about my experience. I can’t thank Friendsurance enough for such an amazing summer for truly making me feel at home for the time I have been here. From free German classes to World Cup watch parties, this company has made an already amazing time abroad that much better. On top of that, the work experience that I have been fortunate enough to gain is more extensive than anything I could fit on a resume. I would also like to hold on to hope that I will be back to Berlin sometime in the near future, and it’s reassuring to know that I have made contacts and friends that would help me pick back up right where I left off. Thank you, Friendsurance!
I can’t say that this summer abroad has drastically changed me or that I’m going to come home a new man. But I can say with confidence that this experience has benefited me in countless ways. I now feel that I have a better understanding of myself and the world around me. I also feel more prepared to adapt to changing situations inside or out of the workplace. I strongly encourage everyone to spend an extended period of time abroad, it’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
A couple days ago, I watched Germany beat Brazil 7-1 with some friends at a public viewing. I kid you not, they scored three of those goals while I was buying a bratwurst. I hope that they keep up the luck while I’m not watching, because I’ll be on a plane during the entire World Cup final. See you soon USA and go Deutschlaaaaaand.
After four weeks interning at Alecto in Berlin, Germany, I can honestly say that I am in love with this city and fascinated with my company (or is it the other way around? I don’t know, everything is pretty awesome). More commonly known as Friendsurance, the company I am interning for provides similar services of an insurance broker to customers in Germany. But Friendsurance is no ordinary insurance broker. They use a social networking model to place customers into insurance groups, saving people up to 50% on their current insurance premiums.
(As a side note, none of these pictures have anything to do with Friendsurance, but they have everything to do with Berlin. Enjoy.)
In one sentence, the Friendsurance topic seems pretty simple, but in reality this innovative concept has captivated me since I interviewed for the internship and it is something that the Friendsurance employees sincerely believe in. Besides the 45 people working for this startup, nobody else in the world is doing this. The passion and dedication of the Friendsurance team has given me a new perspective on working in the business world; they see the results of their work right before their eyes as the company constantly grows, further motivating them to make this company into something special.
An international workplace that represents 13 nationalities, the office language is thankfully English. That being said, German is the first language for most people in the office, and some can only speak limited English. This represents the most valuable experience I have had in Berlin so far, which is being forced to adapt outside of my comfort zone. The only German I speak are the few phrases I have picked up (Guten Tag! Danke! Chao!), and there are cultural differences that I must adjust to both inside and out of the workplace. The key is to be polite and respectful while still being curious and outgoing, which is not always an easy balance to find. Although I cannot speak for the entire German workforce or the whole startup scene, I can easily say that Friendsurance has been extremely welcoming and open-minded towards their only American intern. In a short four weeks I have had the opportunity to take free German classes, play soccer (Fußball) with coworkers, and experience the best German food in Berlin on lunch breaks. Last night we all even got together after work to watch Germany’s first world cup game, and we had a blast as Germany romped Portugal 4-0. To top it all off Team USA pulled off a big win against Ghana after I changed out of my fresh German jersey and into my old American gear.
I seriously can’t wait to give back to this company over my final four weeks by continuing to work hard and immerse myself in the company culture. I was luckily able to root for both Germany and Team USA last night, but I promise I will be pledging allegiance to the United States of America when the two face off next week.
After spending the last two weeks backpacking throughout Europe, I find myself at my final destination of Berlin, Germany. My name is Louis Gideon, and I will be spending the next eight weeks interning for Alecto, an insurance startup in Berlin, through the Fisher Global Internship Program.
I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and until recently the furthest I had ever traveled from the comfort of my home was a couple states away on family vacations. Former Ohio State President Gordon Gee once said that every single OSU student should have a passport, so I took his advice and never looked back. In the past year I have traveled to Canada and Mexico, but I finally made it out of North America on May 6th, 2014.
I tagged along with a group of graduating seniors to explore the other side of the pond, and the trip exceeded my wildest expectations. Spanning from May 6th to May 17th, our trip went something like this: Oslo, Norway→Amsterdam, The Netherlands→Berlin, Germany→Prague, Czech Republic→Florence, Italy→Rome, Italy→Berlin, Germany. We managed to limit our trip to one stereotypical ”O-H-I-O” picture but met Buckeyes in almost every country. Eating the best food of my life, seeing the most amazing sights I have ever seen, and doing it all with some of my best friends was an experience that I encourage every single student to have as soon as possible. The rest of the group is actually still travelling, so if any of you are interested it’s not too late to join them!
I just got settled in to the spectacular city of Berlin, known for it’s historical significance, music, hipsters, and cuisine. After only one day of interning, I already have compiled a detailed business plan to bring Döner Kebabs (comparable to Gyros in America), my all-time favorite European street food, to the United States. In all seriousness, though, I have already started meaningful work in the Business Development sector of Alecto, and I am enjoying every second of it. The company has a really cool culture, with 45 employees representing 13 nationalities and a modern office that creates a friendly, open atmosphere.
Stay tuned for more updates from Berlin and I’ll be sure to post a Kebab power rankings for all potential travellers.