My name is Maryam Cheikhi; I am 22 years old and I come from Morocco. I am currently a Master student at the University Al Akhawayn in Ifrane. This is my last week as an Intern at the department of Powertrain Information Technology (ITP) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Berlin. My internship at Mercedes-Benz is with no doubt one of the most unforgettable and rewarding experiences I ever had. I will share with you a little bit of it in the following lines.
During my Bachelor studies, I searched for international internship opportunities, but there were always organizational stumbling blocks that made it impossible to achieve.
I kept delaying my internship, until the day I read about the Arab European Internship exchange program. I can’t express how I felt when I read about it, my reaction was: “This is it; this is what I was waiting for…!” I rolled up my sleeves and wrote my motivation letter, applied and deep in my heart I knew I was going to make it in.
I thought for a while however, that I could have lower chances to get in because there has never been a Moroccan student in the program before. Nevertheless, my motivation drove me to be confident and to succeed in my interview- I was very happy when I was shortlisted by the Young Arab Leaders (YAL) organization and by Daimler AG shortly after.
This is my third time in Germany, but it is the first time I work at a German company. In the year 2007, I did a semester-exchange program at the Technische Universität München (TUM) where I fell in love with Germany and the Bavarian culture. While living in Munich, I developed a higher sense of responsibility and independence that I couldn’t acquire in my homeland. I met new friends from all over the world; they made me realize how culturally different we could seem to be but how close and similar we really are. After four months, the journey in Munich sadly ended but my attachment to Germany never did. My experience this year in Berlin was however totally different both culturally and professionally.
Unlike in Munich, I had in Berlin a direct contact with more Germans. My colleagues and friends warmly allowed me to see closer into their lives and culture. At work or privately, I was pleased that people were helpful, friendly and open-minded. I admired that they talked with me about many aspects of the German culture and history very openly. I am also convinced; The YAL exchange program represents a very important aspect that not only involves Arab-German intercultural exchange but also an exchange between the Arab countries. I believe it allowed us altogether to build a strong network, to see beyond our cultural differences and to impartially embrace and understand one another.
I was a bit disappointed that my internship was to be in Berlin and not in Stuttgart… I guess I was blinded by my love to Munich’s beautiful landscape and wanted to be somewhere similar. Now! … I assure you that I am happier I came to Berlin. I think it is a fantastic European and international city. I could always see something new or meet somebody different.
Professionally, the added value on my personality is tremendous. First of all, I am glad I have been part of the Daimler AG family. I leaned a lot about the automobile industry and proud I have been to the oldest Mercedes-Benz plant where I was able to see alive the assembly steps and processes of the engines. I was, in fact, proud to tell my father that I work where the engine of his first Mercedes car was made…!
Throughout my previous internships, I was able to acquire new technical skills but fewer interpersonal and professional skills. In the ITP department, my colleagues tried to keep me in close contact with the department’s daily functions while visiting shop-floors and participating in team meetings.
This gave me an overview about where and how is IT supporting the processes of the plant. I subsequently discovered more about my strengths and weakness through giving presentations, solving problems, and when reporting about my tasks. In my first weeks at the department I tried to prove myself and my skills, which is important, but at some point I realized that I should take more time to observe myself, the others and learn from them, because after all, I believe personal and professional development is the foremost goal of my internship.
This way I came to see more aspects of the daily professional life. After that, I engaged more actively in discussions, voiced out my opinions, and learned how to better listen to the others. I admire the professional and direct aspect of collegial dialogue in Germany. Noteworthy aspects that I also like in the German corporate culture are the relationship between managers and employees throughout the company’s hierarchy and the constant flow of information during meetings. This type of communication is to my regard very essential to synergistically solve problems. The understanding of the overall production processes showed me clearly how IT is an important building block to the success at the production environment.
After a while, I decided to extend my internship to 6 months. I wanted to get more interesting tasks, enhance my level of the German language, and most importantly I wanted to see the outcomes of my tasks and projects. I also had the chance to meet with the Berlin’s Plant Manager Thomas Uhr and the Daimler AG Personnel Manager Wilfried Porth. I was impressed by their personality, openness and pleased we exchanged opinions about several topics.
I am very excited to go back to Morocco; to see my family and friends and to enjoy once again my mother’s terrific Couscous..! I still however can’t realize that, next week I will not be able to speak a word of German, not walk along the nice quarters of Berlin, and I will certainly miss when a dear and a special colleague, comes at 12:00 to my office and says: “MAHLZEIT”. I thank all my colleagues for their support, the team spirit and the nice time we spent together. I am also deeply thankful for the Young Arab Leaders Organisation (YAL) and Daimler AG for offering me the opportunity to get international experience despite the current difficult economic situation.