At the beginning of June, I and eight of my fellow trainees set off into the big wide world.
We departed from Frankfurt on flights to Australia, England, Thailand, France, the U.S. and Greece.
An internship at one of SMA’s subsidiaries is a major component of our training to become foreign trade clerks.
My fellow trainee Lisa and I went to Rocklin, California, where we assisted the SMA team for 10 weeks.
Lisa has already reported extensively about our first five weeks. Now I’d like to share my impressions of the second half of our time in Rocklin.
My area of responsibility
The majority of my work in the U.S. involved documenting processes in the service logistics team. That team ensures that our service technicians always have sufficient supplies to repair inverters. The service coordinators monitor the trucks’ inventories. As needed, the two MRP planners order materials from Denver, Germany or external suppliers. My co-workers showed me all these processes, and then I prepared process descriptions.
In mid-July, all the service technicians, who are scattered around the U.S., attended a training in Rocklin. A BBQ was held to welcome them and to celebrate the opening of the new Service building. Afterwards I went go-karting with all the service technicians and a lot of others from the Service group. Even the subsidiary’s Managing Director joined in the fun. After four hours at the kart track and a massive pile-up or two, we went to a restaurant with an arcade where we finished the evening eating delicious food and playing Pac-Man and air hockey.
Summer party in America
SMA America also has a summer party every year. Because it is somewhat smaller than the one in Germany, employees’ families are also welcome to attend. This year’s Summer Family Fest had a Hawaiian theme. The party featured Hawaiian food and hula dancers (including a dance lesson), along with a bouncy castle, face painting and crafts for the children.
The subsidiary’s Managing Director, Henry, even took the time to get to know us interns (from Germany and local universities Sacramento State and Chico State) over lunch. We told him about our projects and he told us some surprising details about his career history, including the fact that he dropped out of high school at age 16. Although he took many detours along the way, he did ultimately earn his master’s degree.
Our free time
Our weekends were also full of activities. As Lisa already reported, during the first five weeks we visited Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Santa Cruz. On one of the final weekends, we finally visited San Francisco, where we rented bicycles to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Highlight: Disneyland
At the beginning of August I indulged in a long weekend in Anaheim (near Los Angeles), spending two days at Disneyland with my co-worker Dominic and his buddy Jarid. That was definitely one of my favorite trips — being around Mickey Mouse, Ariel and Aladdin made me feel like a little kid again. I thought the evening fireworks and the World of Color show were the highlights of the trip.
Almost all my co-workers in Rocklin are totally crazy about Disneyland. Some of them even have Annual Passports so they can visit the park regularly.
Another wonderful experience was a day of boating and wakeboarding for the first time with my co-worker Ben (a Solar Academy trainer) and his friends. After about four tries, I was able to stand up on the board with the boat pulling me down the American River.
But unfortunately, every trip must come to an end.
In closing, I would like to say that all our co-workers in Rocklin were very friendly and integrated us into the team quickly. I had a wonderful time and experienced so many new things. “Unfortunately,” California has way too many things to see and the distances are too great to visit everything on weekends during a 10-week stay.
The company went above and beyond in helping us prepare for the trip and always provided us an on-site contact person or one in Germany to help with any problems that cropped up.
The nine of us future foreign trade clerks appreciate it very much, and we will treasure our experiences for many years to come.
This experience has certainly whet my appetite for working abroad again for a year or two, and I hope to see my co-workers from Rocklin again soon, either in Germany or on vacation in California.
Sirin Bouzidi (guest author)
Sirin is a management assistant in wholesale and foreign trade trainee.