Exploring Windy City – Trainee station in the USA
Gaby Fildhaut worked as a Trainee in Corporate Communications of GEA Group, Bochum, before she started her stay abroad at GEA Farm Technologies in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. For 3 months she supported our colleagues in the USA and came to appreciate an impressive metropolis and American hospitality beside Farm Technologies Segment.
Chicago – third biggest city in the US, „Windy City“, city of Blues and modern architecture. There are many associations coming up when you think of the US metropolis at Lake Michigan, and I wanted to see and experience them by myself. GEA Farm Technologies provided me the opportunity to get to know the major city, the farm business and the American way of life during my Traineeship.
I remember well how I heard in my job interview about the chance of an international trainee station in one of the GEA companies and how in my mind I envisioned to work in the USA. From that moment on I decided to work for GEA and thanks to my imaginativeness of an internship abroad I immediately found myself speaking English in the midst of an American urban jungle. Fifteen months later, after an excitingly great time within the communications department of GEA Group AG in Bochum (Germany), I sat in the plane towards the world‘s biggest airport, Chicago O’Hare. My trainee station at GEA Farm Technologies, Inc. in Naperville was about to begin and was destined to become 3 unforgettable months.
One of my very first impressions was the open arms, with which I was welcomed and exposed to the local conditions at GEA Farm Technologies, Inc. My rotation schedule led me through various departments with different tasks and colleagues who thankfully made my start easy in unfamiliar territory. Which way does a hygiene product go until the customer uses it the first time, what do I have to consider in marketing within this industry sector and how do you train the dealerships the best? I learned a lot in these times and to say the least I eventually brushed up my language skills. At the same time, the colleagues helped me out with working issues. Almost everybody gave some of his or her personal free time and many tips which were very valuable to me. Most of them were related to activities and areas near Chicago. Chicago was as warm as Indian summer and became as snowy as Christkindlmarket, which was my favorite place of excursions with its skyline and friendly flair.
One of my highlights was definitely my field trip with a few South American sales colleagues to a couple of farms in Indiana. Seeing the GEA equipment live in action on not even big farms with 3,500 cows each farm was impressive enough for me by the very (unfamiliar) proportions. On the world biggest dairy expo in Wisconsin I was able to see the latest products around milk production. That’s where I supported GEA marketing in an unusual way: By selling ice cream out of a milk tank (which by the way is more exhausting than it sounds).
My cultural highlight was celebrating traditional Thanksgiving in the family circle of my American HR mentor. I had rarely have seen such hospitality and food before and for now I didn’t want to eat ever again. Nevertheless, I recovered the recipe for a great pumpkin cheese cake.
I could tell you a lot more for hours about production excursions, lighting parades, Halloween, NBA games and police advices that I was not on the “autobahn”. But maybe this insight suffices to let you know that back in my job interview, I couldn’t have imagined a better stay abroad for myself.
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