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Munich Re International Graduate Trainee Programme

Melanie Pölking 18.02.2016
Stephanie Hodges is a member of the International Graduate Trainee Programme based at Munich Reinsurance America Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey. After graduating from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Risk Management and Insurance and Economics, she joined the company in 2014.
Stephanie Hodges, Trainee at Munich Re
Munich Re's International Graduate Trainee Stephanie Hodges

Why did you want to become a part of the International Graduate Trainee programme at Munich Re in the first place?

At Munich Re in the US all members of the International Graduate Trainee Programme take part in the GRID modules (Graduate Reinsurance Development), which allows us to travel to Munich and meet our global colleagues and learn more about the international insurance and reinsurance markets. I became interested in the trainee programme in college during my International Insurance Markets class. The training programme offers the opportunity to gain knowledge of global markets and build a global network of colleagues who offer great diversity of insights and experiences. In America, not many companies offer the opportunity for employees who are new to the industry to be immersed in international markets and business cultures.

Would you mind sharing your impressions of your first days at the office? 

During my first week in the office, I was introduced to not only the scope of Munich Re in the US, but also to the size and breadth of the Munich Re as a Group. I remember thinking that there were endless career possibilities in different roles and countries across the world.  Every person I met had a very diverse background, emphasizing the dedication the group has towards training and developing talent within the organization.

What does your typical work day look like?

My daily schedule depends on the part of the rotation programme I am currently in. Each day is usually around 7.5 to 8 hours with a one hour lunch break or lunch meeting. Before each rotation to a new team, I attend classes to learn about the specific foundations in order to prepare for the real-world experience that I will have in each area. So far I have rotated through our Specialty Markets primary operation, Reinsurance Contracts, Property Facultative Reinsurance, Property Claims, Business Runoff, Financial and Management Reporting, and Reserving. 

Have you worked abroad yet? 

As part of the GRID training programme, I have been on two trips to Munich for two weeks at a time. Next year I will spend three months on an international rotation. Every time I go abroad, I learn more about the various business cultures represented in my training class including German, Italian, Australian, and South African. During the GRID modules we spent some time on intercultural trainings, including negotiation- and presentation-skills from a multicultural perspective. I am always amazed about how many of the common business practices I am accustomed to in America can be vastly different in other cultures.

Would you recommend the Munich Re International Graduate Trainee Programme to others? 

I would definitely recommend the programme to others. The experience you get by working abroad and having weeks of training in Munich and Princeton is invaluable. It is a unique experience: You will build a strong network of colleagues and friends from all around the world.

What advice can you give to new and upcoming International Trainees?

I would tell anyone going into the programme to be ready to learn from each new experience. At Munich Re, the head of my division always says we should learn ten new things every day. The International Graduate Trainee Programme makes it easy to reach and surpass that daily goal. If you can be a sponge that soaks up the knowledge and skills that the program offers you, you will be well prepared for a stellar career.