My name is Jeremias Castelo Ngondo and I am a proud participant in the Students Experience Program (STEP) 2011. This is a program organised by SAFRI (Südliches Afrika Initiative der Deutschen Wirtschaft) in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz South Africa and offers students from southern Africa six-month internships in Germany at the Daimler AG and other German companies.
I was born in Lubango, the capital city of the Angolan southern province of Huíla. I currently reside in a neighbouring country, Namibia, where I am completing my tertiary education at the Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek. I am studying for a Bachelor’s Degree of Information Technology in Software Engineering.
The IT industry is dynamic and competitive therefore after three years of tertiary studies, I felt the need to do an internship with the purpose of putting my theoretical knowledge into practice, learn new skills, develop my personal and professional interests, expand my personal network and gain valuable work experience. The answer to all these needs was when I saw the STEP internships advertised on my university campus in September 2010. As soon as I read the advert, I convinced myself that I was going to Germany in March 2011, no matter what it would take, according to the motto “Where there’s a will there’s a way”! I applied immediately and then the challenging but exciting selection process began. The hardest part was waiting for the results of the assessment centre which took place in Windhoek. I was confident and nervous at the same time. However this nervousness was turned into excitement when I received a phone call from the STEP Project Coordinator at Daimler AG, Joanne Dittrich, saying “I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected for the STEP Program 2011”. I was to carry out my internship at Daimler AG in the IT department “ITF/FA” which deals with Enterprise Architecture Management. I cannot express how excited I was.
In early 2011 the journey to Germany began with German classes at the Goethe Centre in Windhoek. In addition, I received lots of information to prepare my life in Germany and the internship at Daimler AG. Suddenly, it was time to depart and after a long journey I arrived in Stuttgart with the eight other STEP interns from Botswana, Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa in the early hours of1st March 2011. The difference between Germany and our home countries could be noticed right away, the cold!
After an exciting introduction week which included intercultural training, a tour of the Mercedes-Benz car plant in Sindelfingen and a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, my internship at Daimler AG began.
The six-month internship has provided me with the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience that I could not get elsewhere. My supervisor and all my other colleagues were very helpful and friendly so it took me very little time to adapt. My main tasks included working on a new version of a web-based reporting application for enterprise architecture management and creating reports for the analysis of IT landscape data. The theoretical knowledge I have gained during my studies at the university was very relevant and indeed helpful as I executed my tasks. My colleagues showed me how to work efficiently, how to best use resources available at a given time and how to manage my time. Hence, I have learned that although nobody is perfect, it is actually possible to deliver perfect work: “Das Beste oder nichts”!
Within the framework of the STEP Program, Daimler AG offers STEP interns further business training and study trips which are very educational and interesting such as presentation training, lectures at the University of Tübingen, a guided tour of the Bundestag and a visit to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
Besides the exceptional work experience, my stay in Germany has provided me with the opportunity to learn German, explore another side of the world and consequently gain valuable life experience among different people and cultures. In Germany, I personally liked the standard of life, the public transportation (U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses), which is very efficient and convenient, the logistics, and the civility of the people in the streets, neighbourhoods, and at work. Seeing that the way we live in my country is very different from the way people live in Germany, at first, it was challenging to adapt to this new way of living, but without any major difficulties, I rapidly adapted to the system.
Southern Africa is developing fast and competent young people are needed to support this growth. With my newly-gained international exposure and valuable work experience at Daimler AG I feel confident and ready to enter the competitive work market in my home country and contribute accordingly.