Hello everybody, my name is Chiara Mezzavilla and I am studying Strategy and International Management at the University of St. Gallen. I applied for an internship at Bayer Business Consulting advertised on the Bayer website not only because I felt that I really needed some more practical experience prior to graduating, but also because I believed I might be able to greatly broaden my understanding of what kind of career will best suit me. I had worked only in very small companies before; hence leaping into the alien world of the big corporation would have meant much more to me than just one additional line on my résumé. At the same time, I was not sure how this additional benefit would look like. Next to the brand name, it could mean either gaining soft skills, or industry knowledge, or maybe just discovering something about myself. Now that my internship at Bayer Business Consulting has come to an end, if I have to point out what I valued the most about it, I would say it has been the privileged access to knowledge and people.
I have really appreciated so far how easy it is to approach the colleagues here – even for a rather quiet and discrete person like me. Yes, it is true that being in such a big community makes it less straightforward to establish meaningful ties, but nonetheless I have found in everyone much friendliness and willingness to make us interns feel part of the bigger team – from the very beginning.
Not a day at the office has passed without someone I had not previously met introducing him- or herself to me, or simply starting to talk, while sitting in the same room, or waiting for the coffee to be ready. When I wrote an email to present myself to the colleagues, I was skeptical about whether anyone would have read it – the consultant’s inbox seems to be overflowing constantly, after all. Instead, I have by now lost the count of the times I have heard someone told a new intern that he or she had read that email, and often cheerfully adding that it was great to see someone from the same university or hometown. Likewise, I have been greatly surprised by the enthusiasm and pride with which many colleagues have talked to me about the history and the fun facts about Bayer. Some of them even agreed to devote a little of their time, at lunchtime or after work, to answer some questions I had regarding their area of expertise – even though I knew them only by name. I have found this attitude indeed remarkable, thinking that, even in an in-house consultancy, slack time is very rare.
Furthermore, I was glad that not only the single people but also BC as an organization takes its interns in great care. Firstly, a well-established set of routines, such as a thorough onboarding process and activities targeted at interns only (case studies, site tours) shows the dedication that Bayer Business Consulting has towards its youngest members: being scattered around the client sites, the chance for us to meet each other is indeed small, but, thankfully, these activities provide us with the opportunity to get together within a true Bayer experience. Secondly, the possibility for us to participate in the events organized for Bayer Business Consulting as a whole represents, on the one hand, a great chance to meet colleagues belonging to other teams or even working in other countries, and on the other hand, one to explore in great depth the workings of Bayer Business Consulting itself, Bayer and the related markets. I have felt very privileged to be able to take part in such events because even though their content did no relate directly to the project I was working on, I have been able nonetheless to listen to very interesting presentations and participate in workshops along with far more experienced colleagues. Whether the topics in question were market trends or day-to-day happenings or anything in between, I have regarded them very enriching because all of them deal with challenges a department within a large company might face, and what measures are implemented to cope with them.
As a consequence, I must say that my time at Bayer Business Consulting has been a continuous discovery of new knowledge, transmitted largely by word of mouth. Things that cannot easily be found elsewhere – not necessarily because they are confidential, but mostly because they relate to how the business works and how it is lived on a day to day basis by those who are involved in it, and because they belong to a tacit wisdom accumulated by trial and error over time.
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