My internship was at Siemens – I was with the project management team. I think I’ve changed a lot and learnt a lot. It was particularly interesting for me to learn intercultural differences because I am also studying psychology in management but it was important to spot the similarities between the two cultures too. It was cool how I adapted to the situation. I would love to work with Russian companies in the future. I really love the culture here, the people. When I visited Kaluga I got to see a completely different Russia. It’s wrong to assume that if you know Moscow, you know Russia.
I have very positive impressions. A huge thank you to everyone who made the programme happen. My expectations were completely different from what I actually found but I’m very happy that it turned out that way. My standards were too German, and my thinking too German. In fact, when you work in a collective here, you’re not an intern but a responsible member of the team.
I was in a Volkswagen factory in Kaluga. I was supporting foreign employees. Most of them were from Germany of course as it’s a German company, but there were colleagues from Mexico and the Czech Republic too. My job was to help the foreign students who needed help - to go to the tax office, translate or show them how bureaucracy works in Russia because it isn’t the same as in Germany. My aim was to carry on the internship to compare how Volkswagen works in Germany. And I’ve pulled it off - in May I’m going to Wolfsburg to continue my internship and write my dissertation. I want to work in a German company which has contacts with Eastern Europe, Russian and the CIS.
My internship was with Siemens. I really enjoyed being a member of a team, who are not all Germans, like I am, but an international team, including both Germans and Russians. Now I know I can live in Russia and not feel foreign. I think the experience I got here will help me in life regardless of whether I will live in Russia again or not. Personally, I can say that I gained a lot of experience, but I also grew up. I think all nationalities can learn from each other. I was surprised by the complexity of Russian culture. For example, I lived here in Moscow, in a very big city, and everybody looks European, and you think you are the same, but you are different if you go deeper in the culture. The Russians are, and it was quite surprising to me, at first, not that open, but if you get to know each other, you can always refer to them with a question, and they are so helpful, even more than I had expected.
I was an intern at the Russian German Chamber of Commerce and our project was to develop a dual education programme. It was interesting as we were working on something new. I met lots of representatives of foreign companies in Moscow and I think it will help my career. I gained loads of experience of talking to people from different cultures and I’d like to use that experience to work in Russian-German relations in the future, maybe in the German Chamber of Foreign Trade.
I applied for the programme because I’ve been studying Russian for some time and I wanted to start using it. I am excited to have an opportunity to become better acquainted with Russian culture. I’m curious to learn more about doing business in Russia. I’ve been to Russia previously, so I know that’s it’s an exciting country.
Our project is about key success factors for German companies operating in Russia. We defined these factors, we analyzed them, made interviews with people working in German companies, and so we found out whether our original hypothesis was right or wrong. We analyzed the following key success factors: culture, environment, human resources management and some others. The culture is important because you work with your colleagues every day, (usually you spend forty hours or more in the office,) you spend more time with these people than with your friends and family. So you have to be aware of these differences, to keep in mind, how people think, how people understand what you are saying. And when you somehow do that you will be much more successful. When there are bad moods in your team then things won’t work so well, they might even not work at all. As for environment, you need to know the business, economic environment here. When you decide to open up a business here, what will be important to know? How is it different from Germany and Europe in general? What do you need to pay attention to? And you should also think about stereotypes. We were talking about corruption for example. If you read a newspaper in Germany or watch TV, for example, you always get the impression that corruption is a very big problem in Russia. But based on our analysis we found out that it somehow exists but the situation is not as bad as you might think. In that sense you need better, more detailed information than what you hear in Europe about Russia.
Finn Jan Rucktäschel
I did my internship in Krasnodar. I studied there the whole summer. In our project we tried to analyze how to create German-Russian synergy. It’s not obvious how to create synergy. We started in the beginning when we came here and we didn’t have any perception of what German-Russian collaboration looks like. It was kind of funny for us because we experienced our project ourselves while we were working in companies, trying to make some recommendations. In the end we came to the conclusion that it’s extremely important to be aware of culture differences. You can’t just start cooperation without taking them into account. You also have to evaluate these differences because they are somehow interdependent on each other. There are some measures you can implement which are ok for Germans but for Russians they don’t work at all. You have to get a feeling, a sensibility in order to make decisions and to influence German-Russian teams. I have some special impressions of this programme, because I did it in Krasnodar. I heard a lot about the region, although I didn’t know it before I came there, so I did some research and my application was only for this project as it was in a technical direction. The other projects are more for business, administration, HR departments or something like that. I really wanted to merge my culture interest in Russia with my profession. It was the only way to achieve this goal.
I’ve just finished my Bachelor’s degree and now I’ve started the master’s programme. The main part of our programme was the internship and I liked it very much, it is one of the few possibilities to do an internship in Russia. Our project was about the peculiarities of managing culturally diverse teams. For example, when I came to the company on my first day, no one recognized me, I was even asked: ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ I realized that in Russia it is important to make the first step. In Germany it’s different, because you get instructions. And that’s the main difference between our countries. Here you need to establish personal relationships in order to join the team.
Our presentation was about team building, teamwork between Russians and Germans. We tried to identify the difficulties in organizing teamwork. While organizing team building we found out that language can be a problem because some people don’t feel confident when they have to speak in a language which is not their mother-tongue. It’s difficult for them to speak English or German, for example. We also found out that personal relationships are very important in a team. A person, who knows the other members well, feels more confident among them even if he isn’t speaking his native language. Personal relations play an important role here. In a German company the colleagues first of all ask you about your university, about your degree, if you have ever studied abroad etc. In Russia people usually ask personal questions, like if you are married, if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, how your day was, what you think about this country and so on. These questions are more personal, but at the same time they are more interesting.
We are presented a topic on expatriation in Russia: What Should I know? We spoke about the theoretical part and some practical parts, why expatriates come to Russia, how they prepare for this and what motivates them to go to Russia. Expats in Russia need to know different things, for example, the differences and some problems which arise in the adjustment process. A lot of expats are not prepared enough for their expatriation, especially those from exotic countries. They need to be well prepared, to communicate with people and to be open-minded, even about some strange things, for example there is a very marked difference in power distance.