My name is Matilda, I recently graduated from the University College Maastricht (UCM) in the Netherlands and started my six-month internship at Bayer Business Consulting (BC) shortly after. Given my diversified Liberal Arts Bachelor’s Program, I chose to take a year off university to gain deep practical insight in my Business specialization by completing an internship in the field of in-house consulting prior to my Master’s. As I dedicated my Bachelor thesis to the topic of Sustainable Development, with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it comes as no surprise that Bayer, with its exemplary CSR initiatives, seemed like an appealing employer for my first consulting internship. I applied for the internship in the hope of getting acquainted with the daily work and life of a consultant, contributing individual deliverables for the success of projects and seeing for myself whether I possess the necessary know-how and skillset to master the challenges of consulting in the future. Looking back I can say that my expectations were definitely met, if not exceeded – the following presents some insight on the experiences I was fortunately able to take part in.
After dedicating my first day to BC’s Onboarding together with ten fellow newcomers (of which five were interns), I had a first meeting with one of the senior consultants on the project I was going to work for. She took time to acquaint me with the project objectives, patiently explaining the deliverables and timeline while responding to my countless questions. She also asked me to quickly provide BC with my passport – a business visa had to be requested as we were spending my third week in Thailand to hold two project workshops. Already in my second week, after having completed the Onboarding, I met our client and her team, and took part in meetings varying from TelCo’s, meetings with experts, or weekly Jour Fixe’s with the core team. Naturally, the first meetings were mainly dedicated to workshop planning in Thailand, which served to promote fruitful brainstorming amongst experts to work towards the attainment of our project objectives. In between meetings I spent time tackling the tasks I was confronted with, where the ‘open-door-policy’ allowed me to approach colleagues with questions around the clock, always being welcomed by BC’s general positive attitude.
As the Thailand trip was scheduled at such an early point in my internship, my role during the workshops was rather passive. Nevertheless, I was responsible for taking minutes of the workshop, and for helping in organizational matters. The meals with Bayer colleagues from the Asia Pacific region (during and after the workshops) gave time for conversations, allowing me to further get to know the company from differing and international viewpoints.
Prior to flying back to Germany, the Map Ta Phut colleagues organized an extensive tour of one of their newly built laboratories. As my first project revolved around Bayer’s laboratories, it was interesting for me to see where our project would make a change.
After two months I was staffed on a new project, this time with Bayer CropScience, one of Bayer’s subgroups, headquartered in Monheim. While, admittedly, commuting from Cologne to Monheim with public transportation is grim, to be given the chance to make use of feedback and gain insight in an entirely different part of the Bayer Group and the according clients allowed my steep learning curve to continuously rise. Again, I was welcome warmly, thoroughly ‘onboarded’, and was able to participate in team work with my own deliverables from day one onwards. To name only a few of my tasks, I compiled an implementation plan, supported various analyses, conducted a competitive analysis with focus on collaboration strategies, and composed a handbook on the process to ensure transparency and sustainable implementation.
Apart from my countless experiences in project teams, BC offers an exceptionally wide variety of activities outside the office. I experienced the events as especially useful as I am not from North-Rhine Westphalia area, and thus could use every chance to further expand my network. To promote the exchange of intern experiences, one of the interns voluntarily organizes a monthly after-work dinner. The so-called ‘Stammtisch’ allows the gathering of interns, while enjoying international food and drinks, exploring Cologne or Düsseldorf and getting acquainted with each other on a more personal level than in the office. As I enjoyed the evenings to such a great extent I took over the Stammtisch organization. The word about our dinners spread rapidly, and I was soon approached by new consultants if they could also join our evenings – we were often a group of just under 20 colleagues eating together regularly, and having a few drinks afterwards.
Thanks to Bayer’s engaged University & Talent Relations unit, I was also given the chance to get to know some interns working in other parts of Bayer – together we took a bus to the CropScience headquarter for a campus tour and enjoyed a subsequent (delicious!) lunch. Naturally, it was interesting to chat about how my internship compares to that of other’s within the same corporation.
We then took the bus to a Go Cart center. After the qualification we competed against each other in a few races, and the winning teams were rewarded with sparkling wine.
Around Christmas, all Bayer interns were invited to visit Leverkusen’s local Christmas Market. While project work is of course top priority, I was allowed to take part in most intern events after early arrangement with my team.
Instead of a regular corporate Christmas dinner, BCs ‘Christmas Camp’ consisted of a one-and-half day trip to Düsseldorf. While the first day was dedicated to fun, team-bonding activities including sports activities, mixing cocktails and handicraft works, the evening was spent at Düsseldorf’s Rheinterassen where we enjoyed a tasty dinner followed by the opening of the dance floor. The speech of Marijn Dekkers, CEO of Bayer, on the second day, together with various brainstorming sessions towards the betterment of the Bayer group rounded off BC’s so-called ‘Winter Camp’. Even though the aforementioned only touches upon a fraction of my experiences, I can look back on six adventurous months to all extents – professional experience, realistic insight in consulting, successful cooperation with clients, as well as an expanded network of people I truly wish to stay in touch with.