I have now been living in Berlin for just under two months and I can barely believe how quickly the time has flown by. Seven weeks in a foreign country may seem like a long time for someone straight out of high school, but when every day is a new adventure, you start wishing for it all to slow down. Although I am less than two-thirds of the way through my program, I am already sad about leaving. Sure, I know I'll be excited to see my family and friends when I return to the states, but I'll also miss this incredible city and the people I have met along the way.
One of the highlights of my time in Berlin thus far has been the internship component included in my program. I can barely believe how much I enjoy the office atmosphere, my friendly coworkers, and the interesting tasks and assignments that greet me each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
My process of finding an internship through CIEE began back in May, when I submitted my final program application and filled out several surveys about my internship interests. With the help of CIEE, I created a resume detailing my past part-time jobs, volunteer experience, high school education, and awards and achievements. Several weeks later, in late July, I received multiple emails connecting me with the founders of four unique english-speaking startups in Berlin. I researched each company individually and Skyped with their teams about the internship positions. At the end of that week I ended up receiving internship offers from all four of the companies I interviewed with, but, with the guidance of CIEE, I decided to accept the offer from a four-year-old startup called tbd*. They stood out to me for several reasons:
- tbd* was founded by three women and their employees are all independent and driven women
- I admired their mission to connect more young people with social impact careers
- Their office is just a five-minute walk from the CIEE dorms (no long commutes for me!)
Looking back now, I am so glad that CIEE helped nudge me towards tbd*. As written on their website, tbd* is "a digital hub where people determined to change the world can find a job, discover workshops and courses, locate funding, hire the right team, connect with mission-driven companies, share best practices, [and] learn from others who are using their careers to make an impact." The tbd* online platform and newsletter feature innovative ideas, interviews, jobs and events in the social impact and sustainability sectors. If you know me at all, you'll know that all of this is right up my alley.
Over the past seven weeks, I have settled into my new roles at tbd*, which include everything from graphic design, to marketing, to writing and editing articles. My main job, though, has revolved around helping prepare for the launch of tbd*'s career guide in the United Kingdom, which we successfully completed last week! It is so exciting to see this career guide circulating around the web filled (at least partially) with my graphics, my writing, and my research. Currently tbd* is mostly marketed in Germany, but with this new launch, they will start marketing to young jobseekers and entrepreneurs in the UK as well. Since their founding in 2014, the tbd* website has had over one million visitors, and they currently average 250,000 monthly page views. Their weekly newsletter also has over 35,000 subscribers! I love feeling like I'm actually making a long-lasting, positive impact with my help!
Below I have included what a typical working day (AKA Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) looks like for me!
A Day in the Life
8:30 am -- Wake up in my CIEE apartment which I share with another student and an RA. Make myself breakfast (typically peanut butter toast or yogurt) and check my phone. Get dressed and ready for work.
9:10 am -- Walk 5 minutes to the Lofthaus, a modern office building for startups (including tbd*).
9:15 am -- Grab some coffee or tea from the pot, maybe a small snack brought in by a co-worker, and sit down at my desk. Greet all of my AWESOME co-workers.
9:30-10:00 am -- Find 5 to 10 more jobs to include in the weekly UK newsletter. This is always my first task of the morning.
10:00-1:00 pm -- Check email. Get started on whatever tasks I've been asked to complete for the day. Maybe meet with my boss to discuss how things are going. Possibly more snacking :)
1:00-2:00 pm -- Grab lunch with a coworker if someone else is hungry. Otherwise walk back to CIEE and cook lunch in my kitchen.
2:00-4:30 pm -- Finish the rest of the work I have for the day. Maybe do some stretches or breathing exercises with Kasia if she's in the office.
4:35 pm -- Pack up for the day and walk back to CIEE! The rest of the afternoon and evening can vary widely depending on if I have dinner plans with friends, a CIEE sponsored event (like a casual dinner concert at the orchestra or a campus-wide cooking competition, as was the case last week), random commitments, etc. Every day is a new adventure!
One of the best parts of working at tbd* is the strong sense of community in the office. Our workspace is set up in an open format, so everyone sits at similar desks in a bright, spacious room. The only portion of the office that's technically closed off is the meeting room, but one whole wall is still glass. Most days there are usually only six or so women in the office, so we often eat lunch together, take group snack and tea breaks, and even partake in the occasional yoga/stretching session led by Kasia. Everyone in the office has this job because they are passionate about improving the community in one way or another, and as a result, the atmosphere is incredibly inspiring each and every day. I could not have asked for a better environment or group of people to spend three months with.
Overall, I will be heartbroken to leave my job at tbd* when I go home next month. I was greeted here with open arms and I have learned so much about both the startup world and myself through this internship. I'll forever be grateful to the women at tbd* who made the fall of my gap year in Berlin that much better.