I looked up in awe at the huge old building that stood in front of me, flags flying proud and high. Was it really a possibility that this could be my new workplace? I hardly dared to hope so. Even though I had spent my whole train journey from Bremen to Hannover (and quite a few hours before) reading through my collection of information about Continental, it hardly seemed adequate now that I was standing in front of its headquarters, about to go in for an interview for an internship in Human Resources, in the Tires Division.
It did not take long at all for my anxiety to ebb away. My welcome was so warm and friendly that it was very easy for me to forget that I was in an interview and instead, felt as if I was having a chat with someone I had known for a long time! It turned out that this would set the trend for many more encounters that were in store for me at Conti.
My home in Sri Lanka seemed very far away and even though I had been in Germany for a year and a half already, I knew that I could not expect working life to be the same as student life. I was a bit apprehensive about working in a different country, in a completely different culture and knew that there would definitely be challenges to be overcome. However, settling in and understanding my tasks was made easier by a very supportive team and it was an absolute pleasure to work with them! I really enjoyed the international nature of the work I was engaged with, including analysis and evaluation of HR KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) from worldwide locations – it was fascinating for me to learn how such a large organization keeps track of plants, markets and trade outlets across the globe.
Conti also gave me the opportunity to present Sri Lanka to my colleagues at a cross-cultural event in March and it was very enjoyable for me to share a little piece of home with them through a presentation, videos and of course some snacks, which were an interesting indicator of everyone’s tolerance to spicy food! Also fun to watch were everyone’s reactions to finding out what a stringhopper is (a kind of food), what the real capital is (Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte) or what Sinhala letters (the national language) look like.
Working in a room with other interns meant there was always someone to have coffee with, to help with Excel when it just refused to cooperate with me or to complain about the weather and long train rides. No, commuting for about four hours in total every day was not really a stress-free experience. Starting in January, the six months of my internship flew by and looking back I can say that it was definitely worth it! Within only a short span of time, I knew for certain that I wanted to become a more permanent member of the Conti family. I am indeed very grateful that I now have the opportunity to be a part of the Human Resources Trainee Program Tires, where several exciting challenges, wide-ranging projects and getting to know more wonderful people from around the world await – more about this in my next posts :-).