Every NIT student in the Master's program in Technology Management completes an internship in a company as part of their studies. Some students travel around the world to gain new experiences and broaden their horizons. Vera Schulz from Class 20 travelled to the USA for her internship and reported on her experiences:
Vera, you are a student at the NIT in the Master's program in Technology Management and are currently doing an internship in the USA at the newly founded subsidiary of Garz & Fricke. How did this come to be?
In the 3rd semester of the Master's program, an internship of at least 10 weeks is planned. I have been working at Garz & Fricke as a student trainee since the beginning of 2018, and it was clear to me from the very beginning that I would also do my internship there.
Garz und Fricke is a medium-sized company for embedded SBCs, HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) and Panel PCs, which develops and produces its hardware and software solutions for industrial IoT exclusively at its home location in Hamburg. Due to its strong growth in recent years, Garz & Fricke moved into a new company building at the Harburg railway station in October.
Recently, Garz & Fricke also founded a subsidiary in Minneapolis, USA. Serendipitously, the Minneapolis subsidiary’s operational activities had already begun in time for the NIT internship period, so Garz & Fricke suggested that I go to Minneapolis for two months. Foreign countries and international experience have always appealed to me, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would accept this great opportunity.
What exactly are your tasks and what challenges does the company face?
The subsidiary is still in the absolute start-up phase, which makes my range of tasks very diverse. First of all, the name Garz & Fricke is not yet known in the USA, which means there is a lot for me to do in the area of marketing. In the first week we also participated in a trade fair, which was a new and interesting experience for me. I'm also looking at future business scenarios and strategies for the subsidiary, and I have already been able to bring in many lessons-learned from the NIT modules.
Was there a lot for you to organize in advance, and what is it like for you to be there first hand during the initial set-up phase?
The internship in the USA will be my third longest stay abroad, so I am already "experienced" in this regard. The most difficult element for me was finding suitable accommodation, well-connected to public transportation, and for such a short rental period. In the end, the only possibility for me was to rent an Airbnb room. Apart from that, Garz & Fricke supported me very well in all organizational matters, especially Dr. Arne Dethlefs, CEO of the new subsidiary. With his help, the preparations I was required to do in advance were kept to a minimum compared to my other stays abroad.
It is very exciting and something special to be here during the initial set-up phases. The Minneapolis location is new for all employees and the official long-term office will not be occupied until the beginning of December. Despite a few hurdles that have to be overcome in setting up the new subsidiary, everyone is highly motivated, and our progress is easy to see.
You've already studied at NIT together with other international students for a year. How did these experiences at the NIT help you with your internship in Minneapolis?
Through my studies at NIT, I am used to working and living in an international environment. That's why it was easy for me to adapt to life in the USA. Working with American colleagues has also worked well and without initial communication problems. Even though the USA, like Germany, is part of Western culture, there are some differences both in everyday life and in work situations. The year at the NIT prepared me excellently for this with intensive group work and living in the student apartments.
How do you like the USA and Minneapolis?
Before my internship in Minneapolis, I had only spent two vacations on the East Coast of the USA, so the city as well as the Midwest region were new to me. Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota. Together with the neighboring city of Saint Paul, it is known as the "Twin Cities". As a Hamburg citizen, who is used to being surrounded by water, I like the location on the Mississippi River and the countless lakes very much. I would describe many aspects of the city and its inhabitants as "typically American", even if the influence of the many European immigrants is still felt. I have never met a local who had no German ancestors ;)
Minneapolis is less known for its sightseeing than other big cities, which makes my experience here feel all the more authentic. The only thing I don't like about the city is the cold. In November there were temperatures during the day down to -15 degrees Celsius!
Thank you ver much for the interview, Vera! We wish you all the best for your internship.