Interning at a Sustainable Start-Up in Berlin

Programs for this blog post

Open Campus Block

Authored By:

Chloe B.

My name is Chloe and I go to school at Indiana University. I studied this past spring in Berlin and got to take a wide variety of classes, explore the city, and take part in an internship. One of the reasons I chose CIEE was because of the internship component. I had never interned for a company before and I thought working abroad would be an exciting experience. I'm a Supply Chain Management and Sustainable Business co-major, so I was hoping to get placed in an internship that would provide relevant work experience. 

The placement process for my internship was relatively easy. I met with a member of the CIEE staff to figure out internship placement. We discussed my major and interests and what type of industry I wanted to work in. The staff was super helpful and reached out to different contacts to find get me an interview. I ended up interviewing and accepting a position at Era Zero Waste as an operations intern. Era Zero Waste is a start-up that offers sustainable grocery delivery. This was a perfect match for me since I was getting experience in operations and got to help a sustainable company. 

Since Era Zero Waste was a start-up, they didn't have a permanent office space. My boss was flexible with the days and time I worked, which was great. We scheduled to work Tuesday through Thursday, with Wednesdays being remote. On the days we worked together, we would go into The Factory Berlin, which was a workspace for start-ups or the storage facility. The Factory had lots of workspaces, private rooms, a cafeteria, and a room with beds and ball pits and other games. It was nice to have a change in scenary and get exposed to such a cool, modern work environment. On Thursdays we would go into the storage facility and help pack the orders for the week. 

Reflecting on my internship I felt like I truly learned a lot about operations and sharpened my soft skills. Working in a foreign country can be difficult at times because of the different social norms and culture. A lot of Germans are very straightforward, which is something that I wasn't used to. It was a little hard at first because they didn't sugarcoat anything. If they didn't like something you were doing, they would let you know. Eventually I found that style of communication to be helpful, because I knew exactly what to do and how to improve. Exposure to such a different work environment really helped me improve my communication and time-management skills. I felt like I had a very valuable experience that helped me become more prepared for my future career. This experience taught me so much and helped me realize my aspiration to work for a company that would allow me to travel and work internationally.