Turbulent times and a safe haven - Adam in Taiwan
Adam is a member of UNITECH INTERNATIONAL and went to Taiwan for his internship with Evonik when the whole world started taking action against COVID-19. In our networks@Evonik-blog, he shares his intercultural experience.
My name is Adam, and I am currently completing an internship at Evonik in Taiwan. An internship abroad is always exciting, but in my case it got a bit more exciting when the COVID-19 pandemic started at the beginning of my internship. I wondered if my internship could still take place as planned. Fortunately, my internship could actually take place as I had planned, but with some adjustments. I'll tell you about them right now, because you'll probably want to know how I got the chance to do an internship at Evonik Taiwan. I started my internship with UNITECH International, a network for engineering students that serves as a bridge between the academic and corporate worlds. My reasons for participating in the UNITECH program were many and varied. First, I saw the opportunity to take part in not one but two cultural exchange programs - a semester abroad as a student and an internship abroad as an expat. Secondly, the program offers an excellent opportunity to expand your personal and professional network. In addition, the knowledge and advice you receive throughout the program from trainers, participants, academic partners, and corporate partners is invaluable. After a start-up week in Zurich, I spent my autumn semester in Italy and studied Innovation Management at the Politecnico di Milano. In January, we met with UNITECH again but this time in Barcelona for the so-called Mid-Term Week. Here it became practical - the week was spent working with a smaller group on a case provided by one of the company partners. It was a great test for intercultural cooperation, time, and stress management. After Mid-Term Week, I went back to Milan to finish my exams at the Politecnico.
This brings us to the second part of my story, the internship at Evonik Taiwan (ETW). Just before I was supposed to fly to Taiwan, coronavirus broke out. In view of all the uncertainties at that time, it was initially not clear whether I would be able to start my internship, which I had been looking forward to so much. When I was able to board the plane to Taiwan after all, I was very relieved. After my arrival, more precisely after 4 days, the Taiwanese government closed the border for all foreigners. Good timing seems to be my strength - or maybe just good luck. In the first few weeks, the company relied on home offices with a weekly shift schedule. This meant that my initial orientation was from a distance. It was unconventional, but everything went very smoothly; my colleagues were welcoming and showed great understanding and flexibility. The projects I worked on were so varied that it is difficult to summarize them in a few sentences; everything from basic analyses of PET recycling and chemical value chains to assessing the properties of 5G base stations and predicting the effects of coronavirus. From the big things to the smallest details, everything was interesting and educational for me. The same goes for the cultural experience. The Taiwanese are very hospitable and helpful, so you feel directly welcome. Throughout my entire time, I was not only a guest, but actually part of the Taiwanese everyday life and, of course, their work routine.
It was an incredibly enriching experience, and over the course of the year I have grown both on a professional and personal level. Without the platform provided by the UNITECH program and Evonik, this would not have been possible. Now I say goodbye with a big thank you to UNITECH International, to Evonik, and to all the extraordinary 'people' who have helped me to grow. People I have had the opportunity to get to know over the course of the year. And to those of you who are considering applying at UNITECH or Evonik - just do it!
See you soon,
... at #HumanChemistry