Don’t worry – this isn’t an advertisement for Hornbach hardware stores. I had to smirk, however, when my mentor brought up this ad slogan during one of my recent performance reviews. I am very thankful that I’ve been granted so much trust and freedom to experiment here. I’m happy to use this opportunity for further development.
Internship at Bayer Arts & Culture
I’ve been a graduate intern at Bayer Arts & Culture in PR and Marketing for almost a year now. I recently completed my master’s degree in education at the Ruhr University of Bochum. Before the question comes up: no, I never wanted to become a kindergarten teacher, even though I do think that this job is becoming ever more important in our society. Instead, I wanted to explore and examine how people learn and the fundamentals of educational theory. Last year, I wrote my master’s thesis in cooperation with Bayer Arts & Culture on the corporate benefits of cultural continuing education. I think that it’s a very exciting topic, and I learned so much about why Bayer has valued cultural engagement for over 100 years now.
One day in the life of Caren Seegers
What is a typical day at my internship like? I’m usually in the office by around 7:30 a.m. and check my emails while drinking my morning coffee. Then I work on updating the website: entering new events, publishing blog articles, switching out photos or sending the monthly newsletter. After that I develop content for our social media pages (Instagram and Facebook), post new photos or reports and interact with our followers. We’re excited about every new visitor to our Instagram feed @erholungshaus, where we post behind the scenes photos and artist interviews.
At 11:00 a.m., we then have a team meeting, at least on Mondays. And whenever our “culture people” sit down to talk, it can take a long time. I particularly like that we don’t just talk about what new things are coming across our desks, but rather about the concerts we went to over the weekend, worthwhile museums that we visited on vacation or art exhibits that we’d recommend.
At around 1 p.m. I head to Kulisse, the restaurant housed in the Erholungshaus, with colleagues or other interns. I always take a look at my favorite quote from Lessing on the wall: “The ultimate purpose of art is pleasure.”
I spend the rest of my day working on planning the next Spielzeit magazine: getting bids from photographers for the team photos, proofreading articles or writing my own articles, for example ‘That was 17/18’.”
Why would a pharmaceutical and agricultural company like Bayer AG sponsor its own cultural department? For the answer, we have to dive into the company’s history: When the company, which was then still known as “Friedr. Bayer et comp.,” outgrew its original location in Wuppertal at the end of the 1880s, it relocated to Leverkusen-Wiesdorf. At the time, it was just a small farming village with neither cultural life nor adequate infrastructure.
The Bayer Board of Management needed to do something to make the new location attractive to employees over the long term, and thus Bayer’s in-house cultural department was founded. The Erholungshaus opened in 1908. In the words of Carl Duisberg, former Managing Director of Bayer, its goal was “to foster social contact and support the entire workforce’s educational aspirations.”
Each year, the Erholungshaus holds around 120 events, spanning music, dance, theater and the visual arts. There is also special programing for children and young people as well as theatrical pieces performed at schools. Bayer Arts & Culture supports young artists working in different media with its stARTacademy program, offering them financial backing, arranging performance opportunities and providing them with a network that includes artistic agencies and other artists, orchestras, and more.
My personal top three events that I attended at the Erholungshaus were:
1. A performance by Nederlands Dans Theater 2
2. “Brodsky/Baryshnikov” conceived by and starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, and
3. “Matthäus-Passion 2727”
Cultural education at a company?
I believe that cultural education promotes integration – something that is extremely important at a multinational company like Bayer AG. It can also help with teamwork and group cohesion, expand communicative competence, and erode barriers that might bring about conflicts, which in turn benefits diversity management.
Although I’ve been interested in communications and marketing work for a long time, I didn’t start out thinking that I’d land at a cultural department, to be perfectly honest. I feel extremely comfortable at the Erholungshaus; I’m part of a great team and work on exciting projects. I now “make” my family take part in cultural activities (such as visiting Sotheby’s in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York or Harvard University in Boston).
I’ve also had the chance to take numerous professional development seminars at Bayer, including writing and body language workshops, lectures by company leaders, leading a virtual business in simulated markets as well as regular exchanges with other interns and their mentors. I’ve already learned so much that is relevant for my personal and professional life, and really appreciate this type of education.
Would you like to have similar experiences? Then you should look into the Graduate Internship in Business Communication.
This post is also available in: German