Felix in Mexico - Working with a laptop instead of a toolbox
Felix is usually training to become an industrial mechanic but for 6 weeks, he swapped his toolbox for a laptop to support his colleagues in Mexico. In our students@Evonik blog, he talks about his impressions and how it is to work in a completely new job.
My name is Felix and I am a second-year industrial mechanic at Evonik. Thanks to the IPA program, I have had the opportunity to spend some time abroad during my apprenticeship. Of course, this was not for vacation purposes, but rather to learn about other locations of the company and to support local processes. In the following paragraphs, I would like to give you an impression of my stay abroad.
The IPA program (International Program for Apprentices) gives trainees and students at Evonik the opportunity to gain new experiences at international locations in their own or in a completely new area of work. The length of stay ranges from 4 to a maximum of 12 weeks. Since other cultures and countries have always interested and fascinated me, I was immediately hooked and wanted to participate in this program. After I had submitted all necessary documents and my application, the first thing to do was to wait for the necessary admission and of course for the announcement of the location.
Mid-April, last year, was then the start of my journey – living and working in Mexico City for 6 weeks. I did not work in my usual area of work, as part of my apprenticeship, but in the office. So, I exchanged, you could say, my toolbox for a laptop and my safety clothes for a business outfit. This way, I got the opportunity to look beyond the scope of my daily work in two ways: new country and a new job.
There was a lot to do before the journey could start, though: medical check-ups, booking flights, obtaining various travel documents and establishing contact with the responsible persons in Mexico. As tedious as this may sound, there is nothing like preparing for a journey like this.
Once everything was finished, it was time for my journey to start. I travelled non-stop from Frankfurt to Mexico City.
Mexico City is the largest city in Mexico with a population of around 8.8 million. The metropolitan region around Mexico City is one of the largest in the world with a population of around 20 million. I could only guess how big the city was on my way to my hotel but what I saw was fascinating.
I went southwards through the city via the Anillo Periférico, an impressive city highway which has up to twelve lanes and sometimes even two levels.
At this time of day, the streets are usually full, and the traffic is nowhere close to the traffic at home. In México, when the traffic comes to a halt, the roads are filled with entertainers and vendors. Happy and satisfied but exhausted by the flight and the first impressions of the city, I ended my very first day.
On the next day, my first day at work was supposed to start. A shuttle service took me to my workplace: the administration and distribution center in México. This is also where Evonik manages some of its sales activities for all Central and South America.
I was very nicely greeted and was introduced to almost every one of the over 100 employees in person. This was not always easy because not all colleagues spoke English. Nevertheless, I was met by a wave of friendliness and helpfulness I could never have imagined.
In the afternoon, I had my first meeting with my supervisor and I was also introduced to my project I would be working on the following weeks. The project involved preparing a comprehensive market analysis for an Evonik product from the Business Line "High Performance Materials" that was to be launched on the Mexican market. This project was scheduled to last several months, and I was to create a solid foundation on which the other project members could continue working on in the future.
Obviously, it was not easy for me at the beginning. I was not familiar with the topics and office work in general was new to me. However, my colleagues gave me excellent support. The regular meetings with my team leader also helped to quickly get familiar with the topics and to work successfully with the team.
Everyone was so pleased with my performance that my team leader even asked, if I could work on the project for another two weeks. Needless to say, I didn't hesitate for a moment after I got the go-ahead from Germany. I was very happy to be able to continue supporting my team. There was great interest in the results of my work and several departments were present during the final presentation.
I had many great experiences outside of work as well! In my free time, I had the chance to get to know many places around the city. Starting with a historical walk on the pyramids in Theoatihacan to drinking a cool corona in the bars of La Condesa and Coyoacan - there was plenty to do and to see.
México offers an incredible variety of cultural and leisure activities. I discovered something new every day. My colleagues at the office also taught me about their culture with great love and dedication. Moreover, I was particularly impressed by the food culture. With almost every new dish, I learned a little about its origin and preparation. Besides, WE and US at a Mexican dinner table is very important. People take their time to talk a lot, laugh heartily and simply have a good and relaxed time together.
I was deeply impressed by the hospitality and the joy of life - though there might be everyday problems – that the Mexican people displayed every day. Everyone truly gave me an unforgettable stay in Mexico City as well as great acquaintances. My stay influenced me in many ways and gave me new ways of thinking for my future.
I would like to recommend every trainee and student at Evonik to participate in such programs because it is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the job, the company and yourself better.
Until then and adios.
On the students@Evonik blog, students, who work at Evonik, share their experiences about life and work in the company.