When I started my first internship for the Tire Division of Continental in Hanover in 2015, I had no idea where my journey would take me. Working in an international company that had just changed their understanding of Human Resources to a Human Relation-orientated approach (for me as a business psychology student that is very important, because it made clear that the organizations’ people were really put into focus) promised an exciting time ahead with a lot of opportunities for the future. Now, more than 2.5 years later and after various stops as working student in the Tire division and Automotive Group in different departments, locations and teams, I can say: Conti has definitely lived up to my expectations. I met so many amazing people along my way, who supported me in a personal as well as professional way and looking back, helped me to grow immensely.
Back then, I did not expect myself to ever work in Japan – but here I am: already in my last week of a 5-months internship for the Talent Management & Organizational Development team in Yokohama, Japan. On a clear day, I can even see Mt. Fuji from one of the office windows.The last few months have been an extraordinary experience. Japan has it all: crazy cities as Tokyo (in terms of how many people live here, I have never seen a city as tidy and somehow still organized as Tokyo) as well as amazing weekend escapes to beautiful beaches or impressive mountain sceneries.
I wore a kimono in Kyoto, ate gold-covered ice cream in front of the golden temple, freaked out during an earthquake, when everybody else continued working like it was nothing, saw the sunrise from above the clouds on top of Mt. Fuji and had the best sushi of my life (on several occasions). Although it took a while to adapt to cultural differences and to find my way through the jungle of three alphabets, of which I could only read one halfway and then still did not know the meaning, it was truly a spectacular journey. Looking back, it was the challenge I was looking for: going out of my comfort zone and getting to know something completely different.
Work-wise, coming to Japan for me was all about a change in perspective: from a central to a local point of view, from working on strategic topics and developing processes for the locations to operational work and carrying out the processes that I formerly helped to define. I was given a one-time opportunity to gain a wider perspective and to see the holistic picture. This will help me also in my future career, regardless if working in a strategic or an operational position.
In about a week I will go back to Germany and start my master’s degree in Management & Entrepreneurship with a focus on Human Resource Management. I will study in Lüneburg – coming from the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo I am sure the culture shock will hit me again. I am leaving Japan with so many points on my to-do list left that I am sure this was not my last time in the land of the Rising Sun.
Otsukaresamadesu (お疲れ様です) to all my colleagues, who I met along my way at Conti so far. This is a word used in Japanese to show the appreciation for good work to each other – something that should be done way more often also at home.