Hi everyone! My name is Jamauri Bryan. I am currently a member of the 38th cohort of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, an international fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and the United States Department of State.
This is my third and final blog post talking about my experience during the program. If you haven’t already read my introductory post or my post about university life, feel free to check them both out! This post will be focused on the internship phase and what it’s like to work in Germany.
Technology makes the world go ‘round!
Finding an internship is quite difficult no matter where you are, and Germany was no exception. As my university semester slowly concluded, I struggled to find an internship for the 3rd phase of the program. After sending out multiple applications and receiving an equal number of rejections, I decided to change my strategy. After a bit of networking with some friends, I was finally landed a position as a Media & IT intern at the Evangelical Free Church (EFC) in Cologne, Ostheim.
Going into my internship, I was bit nervous since I would be working completely in German. I was at B1 level overall and most of my experience revolved around casual and academic settings. I was very fortunate to have co-workers and a supervisor who were willing to work with me as a non-native speaker. If I had questions about my tasks or I didn’t understand what was being said, I was welcome to ask questions.
An average day at EFC typically started with a team meeting between my supervisor and the rest of the leadership. Afterwards, my work varied depending on the immediate needs of the church. Some days, I worked at a camera to livestream services and other activities online. Other days, I spent updating an inventory of all the electronic devices that EFC owned. Perhaps the most interesting project that I worked on was a video shoot for a community development project in Russia. A Russian-German couple partnered with a community organization here in Germany and worked with EFC to spread awareness about an orphanage they supported in southern Russia.
Aside from my internship, I also worked part-time as a Production Assistant at ESL Gaming, an international Esports company headquartered in Cologne. Working part-time, otherwise known as a “mini-job” here in Germany, is a good way for students to earn a bit of pocket money. ESL is known for organizing and hosting video game competitions such as the popular Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) that’s held in Cologne every year. As a Production Assistant, I archive photos and videos from ESL events to make them accessible to stakeholders later. For instance, if some from the ESL Marketing Team needed a certain picture or file from IEM, it was my job to consult the archive and provide this data in a timely manner.
“Feierabend” and “Feiertag” Culture
Feierabend or “quitting time” as we would express in the United States is the time that comes directly after someone finishes their working day. While hard work and efficiency are highly valued in the German workplace, leisure time is equally important for many people.
After a working day, it was quite typical for me to meet friends and head to a café. This was different from my American professional life where I would typically head home directly after work. For me, I found it refreshing that both my supervisors and co-workers actively encouraged me to make use of my time after work. Some of them even gave me suggestions on bars or restaurants that they frequented themselves!
Feiertage or “holidays” were also a prominent part of the work culture in Germany. As the winter turned into spring and the weather became warmer, it was common for my co-workers to make use of the holidays or days where ordinary business would be suspended. During the week leading up to Easter, it wasn’t unusual for schools and businesses to close early.
Closing Words and Recognitions
Thank you to everyone who has followed along on my journey in Germany through these blogs! I specifically want to acknowledge Cultural Vistas, the United States Department of State, and the German Bundestag for the funding and consistent operation of the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. To all the friends, host families, and mentors that I’ve met this year, I thank you for the kindness and hospitality that you’ve shown me throughout this transformative exchange year.
No matter where I go from here, Germany will always hold a special piece of my heart and I encourage everyone reading this to go out and experience the country for yourselves! Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!