November 17, 2017, by Jackie Thompson
How I Landed a Dream Engineering Internship in Germany
By Edoardo Cocconi, second year, mechanical engineering
Are you interested in undertaking work experience in another country, but worried about cost? The International Work Experience Grant can offer up to £750 to support you.
Designed to help students take up work experience opportunities they might not otherwise be able to afford, the grant will support expenses such as accommodation, travel and visas, living costs and vaccinations.
In this blog we meet Edoardo Cocconi, an undergraduate currently studying towards a degree in mechanical engineering. He used the grant towards a four-month internship with Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany.
Can you give us some details of your placement?
This summer I went to Germany for four months to carry out an engineering internship. The office was situated in Stuttgart, which is home to manufacturing firms Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Bosch. Between these rival engineering giants I sided with Mercedes-Benz Vans, working in the Future Transportation department.
During my internship I dealt with every aspect of prototyping processes aimed at speeding up goods delivery and last-mile logistics.
How did you discover and secure your placement?
Gaining an internship at Mercedes in Germany was the best outcome I could have imagined – particularly as this was my first work experience! I managed to secure it because I took a very proactive approach to making contacts. I went to every possible career event and improved my CV and LinkedIn profile day-by-day.
I discovered this opportunity by adding a Mercedes HR Senior Manager to my LinkedIn network, who then asked me to apply for an internship position. Having a direct contact helps you stand out from the crowd of applicants.
So, my advice is: try to connect. You only live once!
What was your greatest achievement on placement?
My greatest achievement was developing an engineering concept for a solution that allowed van loading and unloading times to be reduced. This job in particular was highly appreciated by the company, and was decisive in securing a very positive recommendation letter at the end of my internship.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was the language barrier. Every employee in the office could speak English, but they would speak in German to each other. In an office it’s really important to understand what is happening around you in order to be responsive and supportive, even when nobody is asking you something directly.
This challenge was difficult to overcome because I was worried about wasting my colleagues’ time by trying to talk to them in German. The truth is that when you try to learn a new language the native speakers feel valued, and so are often ready to help you.
Which three top tips would you give someone else thinking of doing a placement abroad?
- Study the local language before you go. Always speak in the local language during your placement – it’s amazing how much you can learn in a single day.
- Try to meet local people and see the country through their eyes. At the same time, don’t avoid other foreign people! Sometimes it’s nice to meet someone who is in the same situation as you.
- Remember, you are an ambassador for your country. Be proud, respectful and go the extra mile to show the best side of yourself.
Interested in pursuing work experience abroad? We have plenty of advice on where to look for opportunities and how to prepare before going.
Find out more about the International Work Experience Grant and how it could help you fund a placement overseas.
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