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6/17/2020

“I wouldn’t have thought that a remote internship could work.”

They have only been with Beiersdorf for a few months but have experienced working during the Corona crisis firsthand: Tina Haverkamp (24) has been working as an intern in the e-commerce department of the Pharmacy business unit since February. Jelena Osenbrügge (20) is a first-year chemical laboratory assistant trainee. In an interview, the two look back on the past few weeks – and explain why Beiersdorf is a good employer for them even in difficult times.

Tina and Jelena let’s first take a look at your time before the Corona crisis. What did a typical workday look like for you?

Tina: My tasks were characterized by a lot of variety and diversity. I supported the team in very different areas, for example in marketing our products via the online mail order companies, or in updating key figures for various dashboards. There were new, exciting topics every day and I really gained a lot of valuable experience in the process.

Jelena: As an apprentice, my time is divided into three large blocks – vocational school, the Beiersdorf teaching laboratory, and practice-oriented departmental assignments alternate at approximately 8-week intervals. And I’m glad that I was able to get through all three areas before the Corona pandemic broke out. Immediately before the lock-down, I was on a practical assignment in the Product Development Laboratory for face care products. It was a super exciting time during which I was able to work directly on the product.

Jelena Osenbruegge
Working remotely instead of in the laboratory: Jelena Osenbrügge is grateful for the support of her training.

To what extent did your work change when Beiersdorf switched to remote working in mid-March? Did you feel well looked after? How were you supported?

Jelena: Actually, the change came very suddenly, but I think it’s great how early and responsibly Beiersdorf reacted to protect our employees and give us a sense of security. Beiersdorf has set up so many great initiatives, and through actions such as the distribution of disinfectants, I felt absolutely valued. Our instructors also took good care of us during this time and taught us new content in online lessons instead of in the teaching lab. They also always kept us up to date with the latest developments regarding Covid-19. I thought that was huge – and as I learned from talking to trainees from other companies, this wasn’t the case everywhere! Obviously, very few Hamburg companies have anything like a training laboratory and working from home was not usually available either.

Tina: The change from the office to working from home turned out really well for me. I was still involved in the day-to-day business and, like everyone else on the team, was equipped with all the necessary technical resources. At first, I was skeptical whether a remote internship could really work, but I was quickly convinced the opposite was true! During the work from home phase, we exchanged ideas as a team every morning in the “Daily Call”. In addition, I talked to my colleagues on the phone several times a day to clarify questions and discuss topics. This may not be the same as a personal conversation in the office, but overall, it worked out very well! I would even say that I learned just as much professionally as if Corona had not existed.

Have you ever worried about your internship and training position?

Tina: The termination of my internship was never an issue at any time – that was great! Everything went on as normal – as long as you can speak of “normal” while working remotely. But as I said before: that also worked out surprisingly well and I always felt like a permanent part of the team.

Jelena: Of course, all of us as trainees were very insecure at the beginning. But the conversations with our instructors helped to make our worries disappear quickly. Nobody had to worry seriously about their apprenticeship position, and we were told from the beginning that we would not have to worry about our first final examination. I feel absolutely privileged because of this. Having this security was important to survive the Corona time mentally.

Tina Haverkamp
Tina Haverkamp has also gained a lot of experience working remotely.

How important was a routine to you at this particular time? How did you organize your time?

Jelena: We had a virtual meeting with our instructors every morning at 9 o’clock in which we discussed exactly what we were working on that day. That gave me a lot of structure and helped me a lot. The lessons were then held in the group, and we were also given time to prepare a presentation, for example, which we presented online to the group.

Tina: The already mentioned “Daily Call” was an important part of my daily routine. Furthermore, I set up my remote office in the living room of my shared flat. This was important to me because I wanted to clearly separate sleeping, eating and working from each other. I have maintained this spatial change to this day. It’s simply easier for me to draw a clear line after work. At the same time, it helps me to be able to concentrate fully on my work.

Jelena, at the end of April, your 8-week vocational school block normally would have started. How was the vocational schooling affected by Covid-19?

Jelena: Due to Corona, the teaching was very limited. Instead of six hours a day, we were only at the vocational school two days a week for four hours at a time – and that only in divided classes and in compliance with the rules of social distancing. In addition, we received working materials via an online platform, which we then had to work on at home. And we formed small study groups in which we could discuss tasks and clarify questions. This clearly showed how much of a head start we Beiersdorf apprentices have – because the additional online lessons provided by our instructors meant that we were way ahead in many areas and were even able to help our classmates.

Bit by bit, more normality is slowly returning to everyday work. What does the “new normal” look like for you? To what extent does Corona currently still influence your internship or training?

Tina: The Pharmacy business unit have been divided into two groups: blue and green – with the purpose of ensuring that only about half of all employees are in the office every day, thus minimizing the risk of infection. Both groups come to the office at half-week intervals. For example, I belong to the green group and work at Beiersdorf every week on Thursday and Friday, and every other week on Wednesdays as well. On the remaining days I work from home as usual.

Jelena: My departmental assignment at tesa starts in mid-June – and I’m really looking forward to it! There I will be able to go to work every day as normal, since the laboratory is large enough to comply with the rules of social distancing. However, things are different for some of my fellow trainees: Here the rules are different depending on the size of the laboratory. Sometimes 50 percent, sometimes 75 percent of colleagues can be in a laboratory at the same time.

Looking back, what would you say about working during the Corona crisis? Did Beiersdorf win you over from the perspective of an apprentice or intern? And what advice would you give future interns and trainees?

Tina: I don’t regret at all that my internship has now fallen right into the Corona crisis – quite the opposite! I really learned a lot and was able to take a lot with me. I found it incredibly exciting to see how a large corporation reacts to such an exogenous shock: How and to what extent do you communicate with your employees? How does the company position itself externally? Is the company flexible and agile enough to react quickly and appropriately? From today’s point of view, I can answer everything very positively. And I am very grateful to have experienced this firsthand. Beiersdorf has shown itself to be an exemplary employer that takes good care of its employees while always striving to ensure the well-being of each individual.

Jelena: Of course, it was also absolutely exciting for me to see how professionally Beiersdorf operates in a crisis of this enormous dimension. None of our apprentices felt left alone, and that says a lot about the special corporate culture at Beiersdorf – because we are a team! As far as I know, there is also absolute security for all trainees for the future: The new apprentices will start as normal in August, and third-year apprentices also know that they will be taken on despite Corona. And those are fantastic prospects!

Thank you both for a very interesting conversation!

Interested in internship opportunities with Beiersdorf? Find our current openings here!

Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.