Last year in August I became part of the first generation of Graduates of the Corporate Human Relations (HR) Graduate Program of Continental. My home location is the headquarter of the Division Chassis & Safety in Frankfurt, Germany, where I spent the first 6 months of the program – the 1st out of 4 rotations in total.
The Corporate HR Graduate Program officially started with a Welcome Week in September 2014. During this week, the whole generation of Graduates met in Hanover, Germany, and got the chance to get to know each other. In total we are 12 Graduates coming from 12 different Continental locations in 8 different countries, from 4 Divisions. We introduced ourselves to the sponsors of the program, got assigned to the global projects we would work on during the first year of our program and therefore also got project management training.
The last days of the Welcome Week were filled with team building activities. While building boats and rope slides together, during camping and barbecue we got to know both personality and working styles of our Graduate colleagues and became not only a team, but also friends.
This is exactly how I met my dear friend Summer, from Shanghai, China. We stayed in close contact after the week together in Hanover. I felt very honored when she invited me to her wedding which took place on 1st March 2015 in Shanghai. Together with my Graduate colleague Julia from Regensburg, Germany, I travelled there for a week full of amazing experiences.
When coming to the wedding on our first day in Shanghai we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the venue – every seat, every flower and every little accessory was perfectly arranged and matched together. The room was big enough to fit 20 tables for 270 guests as well as a stage with a big screen and a runway. At that point we already started to realize that a Chinese wedding is quite different from a German one. The wedding ceremony started at 18:18 pm because in China 8 is a lucky number, meaning fortune. While there was plenty of super delicious food and drinks served to the guests, the bride and groom were up on stage, accompanied by a host that guided through the evening. The wedding started with Summer being symbolically handed over to her husband Ray by her parents, continued with very touching wedding vows and the exchange of the wedding rings, followed by an entertaining program set for the evening. Pictures of how the couple met in the USA were shown, videos with greetings from friends all over the world were up on screen and interviews with the couple’s parents about the bride’s and groom’s childhood were filled with fun stories.
Summer had us sit at a table in the front and right next to one of her friends who can speak German, so she made sure we were able to always understand what was happening on stage even without understanding the Chinese language. Throughout the wedding Summer wore 4 different stunning dresses with the last one being a tailor-made traditional Chinese Qipao dress in red. A very fun part, which was completely unknown to us, was quite at the end of the wedding: there was a kind of lottery taking place. Every guest had a little present box at their seat and at its bottom there was a number – the personal lucky number. In case your number was chosen out of all 270, you would get a gift. Even though Julia’s and my number weren’t picked, we felt like being more than lucky anyway for getting the opportunity to be part of Summer’s beautiful wedding.
During the rest of our stay we explored Shanghai together with Summer and also with Candy, another member of our HR Graduate Team – so we got to eat a lot of traditional Chinese food and to see the most beautiful spots of the city (like e.g. the skyline of Pudong).
Attending Summer’s wedding was an amazing experience and I really fell in love with Shanghai, so I’m sure I’ll come back there one day – because far away is never too far for friends :-).
You are interested in the Corporate HR trainee program? You can find more information here.