“What a rare opportunity,” I thought, as Ralf Breuer, coordinator of graduate internships, introduced us to the new project at one of the bimonthly graduate internship meetings. The project was all about the 10th anniversary of the graduate internship program in Corporate Communications at Bayer in 2014. A team of voluntary graduate interns was asked to consider how this anniversary could be utilized in terms of communications and what was the best way to celebrate it.
At that time, having completed my Masters in media culture analysis, I had been a graduate intern at Bayer MaterialScience for just six months – in Communications for the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties business unit to be precise. This business unit not only produces raw materials for paints and adhesives but also for coatings that are used, for example, in cosmetics, textiles, or wound care.
Because, up to this time, I had not yet done any of the obligatory graduate internship projects – during his or her graduate internship, every graduate intern assumes responsibility for a project that is carried out independently in a small team – I was keen to be part of this initiative. With me there were four other graduate interns from different subgroups and service companies of Bayer AG.
With our minds bulging with ideas, we launched ourselves into our project. After taking a look at the history of the Bayer graduate internships it quickly became clear to us that we should organize a meeting with former and present graduate interns and mentors. After all, around 45 others had completed a Bayer graduate internship before us, and almost as many colleagues in Communications had been involved at some time or other in the program as mentors. This made a large number of potential guests we wanted to bring together.
It was followed by extensive research on suitable locations in the vicinity, on media that might be approached, brainstormings on possible activities for the event, and discussions with our mentors to learn about their experiences and also to sound out the expectations of our target group for the event. All this resulted in a concept that we were able to present after a few weeks to the coordinators Ralf Breuer and Hans-Bernd Schmitz. Time was now getting short. We had barely eight weeks to implement our plan.
For the celebration itself it was not only a case of putting together the right menu but also of finding a suitable supporting program. Fortunately, we were able to rely on our fellow graduate interns. While a large number of them offered to take pictures as part of the planned photo activity, we were lucky enough to have a female singer in our midst as a graduate intern, who brightened up our evening with brilliant soul music. It was an outstanding highlight that contributed to the evening’s very pleasant atmosphere.
But we also wanted to utilize the 10th anniversary of the graduate internship program for communication purposes. The 10-year-old graduate internship program is one of the oldest in the field of corporate communications in Germany. This was yet another reason for us to draw the public’s attention to this form of career entry for up-and-coming communicators. In addition to the concept for the celebration, we therefore also devised a strategy for external and internal communications, wrote news releases and did publicity work on journalists and colleagues. We also benefited from the fact that, during the organization phase, one of the compulsory further training seminars entitled “strategy concepts” took place. Here, we not only learned the basic principles of project conception, we also received support and ideas for the addresses that we wanted to write for the speakers at the event.
In close cooperation with the graduate internship coordinators and our mentors we finally ended up with a well-balanced and attractive concept. At the end of it all, we spent a highly enjoyable evening in the BayArena in Leverkusen with around 50 guests from the Bayer world and also from outside. The atmosphere was particularly exciting because everyone was curious to find out more about the other guests, about how the program they had all completed would continue, and about how the careers of the former and present mentors and graduate interns had subsequently developed. At the same time, the element of fun was not lacking: the guests exchanged amusing anecdotes, renewed old contacts and made new ones, and took plenty of photos of their former colleagues. In short, the celebrations lasted until well into the night, and people were talking about it long after the event, due to a large extent to the good contacts between the graduate interns and their colleagues in communications.
But the project was also an outstanding opportunity for my further development as a graduate intern. On the one hand, I was able to contribute and deepen my knowledge and experiences from my daily work in the internship program. On the other, I learned a great deal through the largely autonomous implementation of the project in the team. For example, we developed one of the first detailed strategy concepts ourselves for the project before we attended the relevant seminar. Through close cooperation with other areas of Communications and graduate interns from the other Bayer AG subgroups and service companies, I also learned an enormous amount about different communication approaches and gained new ideas for my job.
I am now responsible for internal and change communications in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties business unit at BMS, where I also began my time as a graduate intern. If you are interested in more details of my career up till now alongside my studies in media and cultural sciences and the Bayer graduate internship program, visit my Xing profile. You can also use this to contact me at any time.
This report was written by Liesa Beermann. On this blog Bayer employees from different subgroups and service companies tell you about their personal experiences. So you can get a little insight into the company.
This post is also available in: German