My name is Kim Allwicher, I’m 22 years old and I’ve been part of the University & Talent Relations team since January 2017. I’d like to show you just how much fun it can be to grasp opportunities and explore paths you would never have thought of on your own. When I finished the European Business bachelor program at Münster University of Applied Sciences and University of Hull in England, I knew exactly where I wanted to go – into the supply chain management at a large corporation. And here I am now: in HR marketing at Bayer! I guess things don’t always turn out quite the way you expected.
With three years of theory behind me, I was keen to gain some practical experience before starting my master’s degree, thus I started looking around for the perfect gap year program. The QUEB initiative “Mut zur Praxis” quickly caught my eye: 12 months – 3 internships – 1 application. And not just anywhere: the program was offered by L’Oréal, Bayer and Coca-Cola. Doing an internship at just one of these companies would have been amazing. Getting the news “Welcome to the gap year program, Kim!” was absolutely overwhelming and I couldn’t wait for the next twelve enriching months to begin!
All three companies gave me the opportunity to express a preference as to the department I’d be going to and the tasks I’d be handling. Therefore, to start with, I landed exactly where I wanted to be – in customer supply chain management at L’Oréal in Düsseldorf. The work and the projects were not only educationally enriching, but also great fun and just reinforced the feeling that supply chain management was just what I wanted to do. When it was time to plan my assignment at Bayer, my colleague Bärbel – who is responsible for this program at Bayer HR and had also been at the assessment center – encouraged me to think outside of the box and promptly offered me an internship in her team. I was doubtful though – me and social media marketing? Sure, I have an account on Facebook and LinkedIn, but back then I really didn’t have a clue about what companies have to bear in mind when presenting themselves on these channels. Anyway, I saw the challenge – and accepted it gratefully.
In at the deep end…
I was incredibly nervous on my first day – would I be able to deliver what was expected from me, without having any experience in that field? But there was absolutely no need to worry – my team was very open-minded and I soon fitted in. After a short time, I was completely taken with the team’s exciting activities and projects, which I was part of right from the start. It quickly became clear that I was going to learn an incredible amount here – Bayer really is an excellent social media communicator and is continuously developing innovative HR marketing approaches, such as #BAYER360. There was one thing I learned straight away in my first weeks: How to hold awards!
…and into the hustle!
Right from the start I was amazed by the sheer breadth of the target groups Bayer addresses as an employer. Bayer offers exciting opportunities in so many fields – whether it’s IT, the sciences, law, or economics. So alongside my social media marketing activities, I was pleased when I was able to take part in a number of career events that kicked off with a visit to the 2017 World Business Dialogue and not just one, but a series of highlights. Who would have thought that I’d get to take a selfie with our Board Member Dr. Hartmut Klusik during my internship?!
Just as I was feeling nice and comfortable at a business congress, it was time to dive in at the deep end again – this time supervising the Cardiovascular Research @ Bayer 2017 workshop in Heiligenhaus. And the water couldn’t have been much deeper, since I didn’t even know what “cardiovascular” really meant before I came to Bayer. Luckily, my colleague Bärbel was with me to give me an expert helping hand, so I could also spend my time conducting interesting face-to-face discussions. What do doctoral candidates and postdocs do in cardiovascular research? And what is it that drives these scientists? I learned so much about professions I would otherwise never have found out about, and needless to say: I would have really missed out!
Nah…Yeah, why not?
I’m incredibly grateful that the “Mut zur Praxis” gap year gave me the chance to test the waters in three different fields and in three exciting companies with very different corporate cultures. Every internship is unique and I’m now enjoying the very last few days here with the HR marketing team before it’s time to head for my last stop: an internship in production logistics at Coca-Cola in Munich.
I really would like to encourage you to take advantage of opportunities that may not seem right for you at first glance. I’ve noticed that it’s the experiences I react to with a spontaneous “Nah” that are actually the ones that can drive me forward the most. And in terms of professional experience, I’ve learned so much and discovered talents within me that otherwise would have lain dormant. So the next time you’re thinking “Nah,” try thinking outside the box, tell yourself “Yeah, why not?” and jump straight in at that deep end!
This post is also available in: German