At Covestro, we have an international focus. Even at the entry level! People who start the trainee program at the leading supplier of high-quality polymer materials have the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of countries and (work) cultures. We have spoken with Pascal, a former trainee, and with Franziska and Julia, two current trainees, about the program's opportunities.
Hello - would you please briefly introduce yourselves to the careerloft members?
Hello, my name is Pascal Schaub. I'm 30 years old. I received my bachelor's and master's degree in Mechanical & Process Engineering from Technische Universität Darmstadt. During my studies I spent one semester in Switzerland and one in Canada. I started as a trainee at Covestro in July 2013 and now work in Leverkusen. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, spending time with my family and friends and exploring the world.
Hi, my name is Julia Shi. I am 24 and live in Cologne. After receiving my master's in the USA in September 2014, I started at Covestro. Right now, I am in the second to last station of the two-year engineering trainee program. After work, I like to play the guitar or table tennis.
Hello, I am Franziska Lang. I am 26 years old, and I studied process engineering at RWTH Aachen University until the end of March 2015. After finishing my studies, I spend six months in Finland and six months in Northern Ireland. Around one year ago, I started in the engineering trainee program at Covestro. Back then I worked in Uerdingen and then had my next station in Dormagen. I have been in Leverkusen for around one month.
How did you find out about Covestro? What convinced you to join the trainee program at Covestro?
Pascal: After finishing university I was looking for a trainee program with high standards in an international corporation. During my research, I came across Bayer's offer by chance. The trainee program was definitely the right decision. The supervision was excellent. I was able to design the program according to my own interests and as a result participated in strategic and investment decisions in addition to classical engineering activities.
Julia: Covestro (still Bayer MaterialScience two years ago) is a leading company in the industry and chemistry students like me consider it the employer of their dreams. The opportunity to work in different departments, functions and places was very appealing. I was invited to an interview in Leverkusen, which was also a great experience – I encountered a friendly atmosphere, relaxed interviewers and a pleasant environment there. I was certain that this would be the perfect program for launching my career.
What is a typical workday at Covestro like?
Julia: As a trainee, my main task is to experience and learn as much as I can. I regularly meet with other colleagues from different departments, participate in various meetings and learn a lot about the organization and the corporate culture. In addition to my tasks in the office, I use the time to improve my German.
Franziska: That depends on my current position. What they all have in common is that the day begins relatively early. Positions related to production start earlier than the other departments. I really like that the work climate is very friendly and collegial everywhere.
Why do you think it is important for engineers to have experience abroad?
Pascal: Working abroad forces people to leave their comfort zones, to meet new people, new cultures and to make new experiences. In a more and more globalized environment this is increasingly important, especially for a successful collaboration with colleagues from all over the world.
Julia: International experience is extremely important because the work cultures are so different. You see how people handle their jobs, communicate and cooperate under different conditions.
Franziska: Engineers have broadly based fields of work and do not limit themselves to “pure technology.” Currently, I work in an open office with people of many different nationalities. I think what I am learning about different cultures and their different forms of interaction and communication is very important.
In which countries have you already worked?
Pascal: I worked in the US for almost six months and spent four months in China. In many ways, both of those countries are very different from Germany. Personally, I think Asia is more exciting and dynamic than North America.
Julia: I have worked in the US (New York), Germany (Dormagen and Leverkusen) and China (Shanghai). I like the German work structures the best.
Which experiences you have had abroad help you in your workday at Covestro?
Pascal: In my opinion all longer stays abroad and the experiences you make there tie into each other and supplement each other – like a puzzle.
Which professional challenges have you had to face?
Pascal: To finish complex subprojects during Covestro's carve out from Bayer under high time pressure together with an engaged project team were the most exciting and instructive ones for me.
Julia: To me, my lack of practical experience is the greatest challenge. Production engineers spend years in factories in order to acquire an overview of the operational structure. I know that experience will come in time and that I have to keep on learning as much as I can.
How does Covestro prepare you for working abroad?
Franziska: Before my planned stay in China, my HR business partner trained and supervised me. I participated in an extremely intensive intercultural training course and was also offered language lessons. An experienced agency supported my visa application and search for a place to live, and they did most of the work for me. Internally, they told the colleagues I was coming and introduced me around. That is very helpful and can truly open doors.
What will your next professional steps be?
Julia: After my last station in Brunsbüttel, I will start my first officially permanent position in the PET department in Dormagen.
Franziska: I plan to remain in my current department for a while and in November, I will go to Belgium to participate in a research & development project.
Covestro's corporate values are curious, courageous und colorful. Which of these values can you identify with the most and why?
Pascal: A good mixture of all three values can make a key difference. Having Interest in new topics (curious), questioning the status quo and taking risks (courageous) as well as interacting with people from different cultures (colorful).
Franziska: My personal favorite is curious. To keep making progress and think outside the box gives us drive, while courageous and colorful are the foundation upon which we can develop further.
What do you like most about your job?
Julia: To me, it is fascinating to learn about the mechanisms involved in production. When you understand how much expertise is inside each product, you start admiring the advances we've made in human intelligence.
Franziska: In each new station, you meet new people with different professional and private backgrounds. You can learn plenty while working with them.
Your advice to other young professionals?
Pascal: Find a job that makes you happy!
Julia: Take every opportunity that arises to prepare for your future: have many different experiences.
Franziska: Stay curious! My history teacher once gave us some advice: Never forget how to be amazed.