It all started with a vacancy notice in a job portal. Bayer had a strong presence and my attention was constantly drawn to its advert. It grabbed my attention, not least because of the employer branding image (what do a swarm of fish and a diver have to do with Bayer?) So I clicked on Bayer’s career site and what I read made me think: I want to be part of that! And that’s how I came to be spending two years in the communications department at Bayer Business Services.
I remember standing outside the ID office waiting for my company ID card to be issued. Only a few weeks earlier I had submitted my master’s thesis on “Romance languages: cultural contact and communication” at Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf. There seemed to be about 100 other people waiting and since I was number 96, I knew it would take a while. At any rate, long enough to take a look at the other newbies. Maybe one of them would be joining the same department as me? Some of them were talking to each other, while others shifted nervously in their seats with their legs crossed, or paced around outside. I was reading a travel report on Ecuador, where I had spent a few months. I tried to keep my mind on the description of the Andes landscape but somehow I couldn’t concentrate properly. My thoughts kept straying to my first day trainee in the communications department at Bayer Business Services (BBS for short), the Bayer Group’s global competence center for IT and business services.
Fully integrated from the start
After a three-hour wait I was given my identity card. I set off for the department, full of motivation but with mixed feelings: how would my colleagues welcome me, would there be a desk ready for me, what would my first task be? Quite a lot of unanswered questions really. But when I arrived in the open-plan office on the tenth floor with a view of Cologne cathedral, I was suddenly in the thick of things: the morning meeting with my eight colleagues, impenetrable abbreviations and complicated processes raining down on me in the first few minutes, my first editorial jobs, a lot of names and job designations, building numbers on a maze of site plans that made me feel lost simply looking at them. In short: no time to ask unnecessary questions. The motto was: simply get on with the job. Suddenly I was there, I had arrived.
Not simply a trainee
I’ve now spent one year as trainee in the internal communications department at BBS. I’m often asked what I really do. The answer takes up quite a bit of space: Often I feel like a roving reporter, editing reports on BBS projects for compact, our printed employee magazine, to make sure they are understandable to all our readers, writing news items for the intranet site, interviewing employees and writing profiles. However, working in the communications department goes well beyond simply being a journalist within a company. And that is precisely the big benefit of my traineeship: it’s unbelievably varied and confronts me with a new challenge every week. Sometimes I’m a social media manager handling a new contribution for BBS’s LinkedIn profile. At other times I’m a program director dealing with the content for our communication channels on the the big monitor in the entrance area. Or maybe I’ll be the coordinator organizing “fireside chats” between the management and employees or other events. And on Tuesdays I’m a student again, attending our departmental English course. Other times my job is to be a proof-reader, film crew, or source of ideas.
And every three months my role is simply a trainee at the meeting of all communications trainees of Bayer. At the moment there are ten trainees in our community who meet up with our coordinator for a discussion, to attend seminars on writing or communications, or just have lunch together. It’s hardly surprising that the program run for communications trainees by Bayer AG in our field is one of the best and most popular at Germany’s blue-chip companies. Personal mentors, regular feedback, opportunities and scope for individual training and development, a big chance of landing a job with the company, and active involvement from the very first day are exactly what I was looking for at the end of my university degree. At the same time, a traineeship like this is a big challenge for career entrants: from day one you are expected to work independently on corporate topics, show a conceptual and strategic mindset, and have the courage to take responsibility and look beyond your own tasks.
A bit of everything
Why did I choose Bayer? Since I studied Romance languages, working for an international employer was an important aspect for me. And as a global corporation Bayer naturally has a big advantage there. But the question is equally easy to answer if you are aware of Bayer’s mission: Science For A Better Life. Using science to make people’s lives better – surely that’s an excellent reason to be enthusiastic about Bayer as an employer.
And as a trainee in communications, I can report on that science. In any case, writing was always top of my career wish-list. I really enjoy communicating complicated issues understandably (and some of BBS’s IT projects are really complicated) and talking to the employees I write about. Recently, I interviewed a colleague from the Philippines for an article in the series “My day” in compact. In this series, we portray a day in the life of a colleague and show what their work entails. The colleague was spending six months in Leverkusen and I had plenty of questions to ask him. Over lunch, we laughed about language barriers, discussed cultural differences and why the public transport system in Cologne is better than the one in Manila. There are so many people at Bayer who are interesting and fun. After all, with over 100,000 employees, Bayer is a colorful mixture and there is plenty to write about.
In just six months I have made enormous progress in my personal and professional development. And now I understand what the swarm of fish and the diver mean: you can achieve great things with personal commitment.
This post is also available in: German