Facing Challenges Makes Room for Opportunities

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(by Michelle)

Coming from a background in startups and small companies, my Blind Applying match at Fortune 6 corporation General Motors (GM) felt like a challenge from the start. Automotive was a new area for me too at the time I got my offer, I could barely tell you the make and model of my own car! However, just four days after wrapping up my freshman year, I found myself driving to Detroit, ready to take the challenge head-on.

My manager greeted me with the question, “What do you want to get out of this internship?” This welcoming attitude guided my GM experience as my team went out of their way to find me substantial work. I was placed on the Global Football Marketing team, which was responsible for Chevrolet’s sponsorship of Manchester United. The team was launched in 2014 with large‐scale activations internationally, from the beginning. Therefore, they must be agile and innovative — a quality that I’ve loved at startups. At the same time, they operated within a larger company, which gave us access to more resources, minds, and research than I’d been able to work with in the past.

My team was agile and innovative, a quality that I’ve loved at startups. At the same time, we had access to more resources, minds, and research than I’d ever accessed before

Chevy concept car

I got to sit in on strategy meetings for our nascent music sponsorship, grab coffee with Directors of diverse divisions from Finance to Branded Entertainment, plan and design graphics for large‐scale events in England, China, and India, and even lead projects of my own. My most rewarding project was suggested by my manager after hearing about my experience at the Stanford Design School. When representatives from Manchester United visited GM in Detroit, I got to lead a full‐day design thinking session for 30 managers for the soccer team, Chevrolet, and agency partners. It was an exciting way to apply my knowledge from the classroom to a broader setting and learn to lead a meeting with high stakes. Some of the ideas from the session are being further developed as I write!

As I got more familiar with GM, I found that my team’s encouragement had its roots in the internship program as a whole. As part of the EXCEL program, I was given the opportunity to interface with senior leadership through 1‐on-1's and autobiographical presentations. I was even fortunate enough to speak with Mary Barra, the CEO, at a small intern lunch. She was so warm, sharing her thoughts on balancing family with work, and on the frontiers of the automotive industry from fuel cells to autonomous cars. She has an eye for innovation and a drive to make General Motors a better place I can see that the flexibility my team exhibits has roots in higher parts of the organization.

I can see that the flexibility my team exhibits has roots in higher parts of the organization.

Lunch with CEO Mary Barra and fellow interns!

Outside of work, I explored Detroit with other interns. Like GM, Detroit is best known for its rich history, but it's also quickly moving forward. An agency partner introduced me to a few design and arts events, which were held almost weekly I learned a lot about urban planning in Detroit, and furthered my knowledge of other areas of design that are globally applicable. The food, especially food trucks around the office, were wonderful as well. Detroit also held plenty of options for outdoor exploring: I went skydiving, hiked and kayaked around Michigan’s metroparks, and ran 5Ks on the Riverwalk. Although this was a new city, its small size, friendly people, and constant growth made it soon feel like home.

GM surprised and delighted me in a lot of ways. What I thought would be challenges, such as new industries, created room to grow. Where I thought the structure of a large company might be stifling, I instead found people open to my ideas and looking to make a change. I am especially thankful for my team who always pushed me to be more assertive, creative, and a full member of the company. I gained valuable experience this summer and enjoyed the internship. Can’t wait to see what next year’s “challenges” bring! 

Eat, Learn, Network

(by Oana)

Amazing experience, amazing city, amazing people? That's what a BlindApplying internship at ENGIE sounds like. How do you conclude a summer in Paris where you dived into such an interesting and unique field and learned so much from experienced and friendly people? Well, that is a quite difficult task but I will give my best to write some remarks and conclusions here.

What professional skill did you develop the most through the internship?

My previous background did contain a base in cybersecurity and computer networks, but I have never emphasized these areas since my main previous jobs and internships concentrated on web and mobile development. 

Paris from the 30th floor

Paris from the 30th floor

The internship at ENGIE had in the same package diverse notions like cybersecurity, big data, marketing, business processes, and even sociology. All these skills and knowledge are needed in order to understand, use, and acquire threat intelligence and related tools and services.

Another important professional skill that I developed (more or less intentionally) was of course French.

What is the fondest memory you will take from this experience?

This internship was a real memory-creating machine, but if I were to choose a particular one, it would be one threat intelligence conference in which I participated along with my team, and where I had the chance to meet many interesting people like the chief information security officers of Chanel and Hermès. It was an amazing occasion to learn and network, alongside with eating gourmet food!

What would you recommend to others interested in a similar job or in ENGIE?

If you are planning to apply to a similar job, prepare yourself for challenges, deadlines and many new concepts and information to absorb.

The work environment was professional and friendly. I was always encouraged the ask any question I had, and people helped as much as they could

On the other hand, the work environment in my case was more than professional and friendly. I was always encouraged the ask any question I had, and people were as helpful as possible. The cybersecurity field is a very dynamic one (the most fast-changing one if you ask me). This means that you have to put a lot of effort in order to stay up-to-date with what is happening around the world regarding malware, threat actors, tools, and technologies. It can be a bit tiring sometimes, but the rewards are just as big or even bigger.

That would be all from my side, but one last thing I want to do is wishing you, dear future BlindApplying applicant, good luck and an awesome experience in your internships!

À bientôt!

Oana

Paris

Paris

In Normandy

Innovation is a Mindset

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(by Pascal)

A couple of weeks have passed and my internship at Deloitte has ended in the meantime. In my final post about my internship at the Deloitte Garage, I won’t extensively talk about my last duties but rather want to use the opportunity to do a wrap-up of my time at this outstanding team.

Trying a VR set!

Overall, I got a lot of responsibility right from the beginning which, together with topics that changed frequently, decisively shaped my experience in this internship. As I stated before, this would not have been possible without a team, which is characterized by teamwork, professionalism, trust, and a fair portion of fun.

Working with some of the latest pieces of technology and being able to present them in workshops (which I could largely structure independently) was probably among the things which I valued most during that time.

It was our goal to make innovation approachable for our clients, which was a really interesting part of my internship. Jointly, we developed new formats to encourage deep conversations and discussions about definite applications of predefined innovation topics. I guess that the development and use of formats, which are different from the experiences I had in other internships, specifically are a key take-away from the last three months. Additionally, it has always been an open question to me, how innovation, in detail, is linked to new business models, as well as which specific factors are relevant when assessing innovation. I am convinced, that this question has been exhaustively answered.

I have always thought about how innovation is linked to new business models, and about the specific factors that are relevant for its assessment.

In the week before I left, our team met again in Düsseldorf to celebrate and the achievements of the last months. Since we have been quite a large number of interns and working students supporting the team, this was also an occasion to spend some more time together before some of us returned to university to finish our studies. I think all of us were happy and surprised when the team handed us a signed version of a book we used frequently, and a t-shirt of the Deloitte Garage – from my point of view one of the moments which will definitely remain in my mind.

I think that people who like to work with creative solutions on a high quality standard will definitely have fun in such an environment

The Deloitte Garage is a place which values creativity and openness towards new topics and approaches. We worked on quite a number of topics and exchanged the latest trends on the market with each other. Similarly, flat hierarchies and a lot of responsibility even in entry positions or as an intern shape an encouraging and fast-paced working environment – maybe almost similar to a startup. I think that people who like to work with creative solutions on a high quality standard will definitely have fun in such an environment.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this last blog entry: It has been an inspiring time together with great people. At this point I again want to thank the team and Blind Applying for facilitating this internship.

Cheers!

Summer at a workplace that appreciates being playful and open

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(by Eric)

Hi again! This post will be my last of the summer. I hope you've been enjoying the previous ones. I've tried to be as detailed as possible to give you an insight into how data science works at Johnson & Johnson (J&J). By now, my internship has already ended and I am in the thick of things again as a graduate student at Columbia. With the fall hiring season starting to get underway at many schools, I'll write for those of you who are curious about life at J&J doing data science. I will also share some fun and interesting activities I enjoyed during the summer, and some thoughts looking back at my experience.

Working hard and playing hard

Before J&J, I had never imagined that an internship could involve activities like going out for laser tag, volleyball, and dodgeball with other interns and people in my team and department. But guess what? That's exactly what happened this summer! Plus, it happened on a work day (a Monday, if I remember correctly). We got the entire day off to go and have fun. Then, after we were all sweaty and worn-out from playing, we didn't have to go back to work. We just headed back home early and had the rest of the day to ourselves. Need I say more about the awesomeness? I think you get the picture.

I'm certainly not suggesting that we all go out and play every day. People at the office, including the interns, work on many projects and get things done. However, I definitely got the sense that my department understood the value of having fun, taking a break occasionally, and getting to know your colleagues outside of the professional environment. There is nothing like throwing foam balls around in dodgeball to hit that mental reset button in your brain. The experience also makes you see your colleagues in a completely new light. Competitive games seem to bring out more of the character in each person, which is pretty fascinating if you're paying attention.

I definitely got the sense that my department understood the value of having fun, taking a break occasionally, and getting to know your colleagues outside of the professional environment.

Many people completely changed when taken out of the formal office setting and dropped in the middle of a dodgeball game. Some became bolder, rushing to the front lines, while others stayed back and played more cautiously. Me? I wasn't afraid to take some hits if I had to, but my best ability was catching the balls, not dishing out the throws (for those not familiar with dodgeball, catching a throw takes out the opponent player and allows you to put back in a team player who was hit earlier). I let the best offensive hitters move to the front and do their thing, then I moved up when they had exhausted their ball supply and went in search of ammunition. Anyway, I digress.

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A culture of sharing and collaborating

Here's another interesting fact about the data science team: We were about evenly split between introverts and extroverts. I was pretty surprised when we got the Myers-Briggs results back and saw the distribution (for those of you who are curious, I tested INFP). Yet, despite our drastically working styles and personalities, we all got along together, both in and out of the office. I think it speaks to the kind of environment that J&J fosters and the people they hire that things went as smoothly as they did.

Before I end, there's one last thing I want to mention because I really appreciated this part of the summer: Executive lunch and learn. You show up, get fed, and get to sit down with a manager/director/VP talks about their career and fields, and answer any questions from you and the other interns about just about anything. What could be better? I've heard that a lot of big companies are doing this kind of thing now, but I still have to say, I thought it was an incredible opportunity to hear from the top leaders at J&J. They all took unique paths to get to where they are today. Some started at J&J fresh out of college and moved from role to role, or department to department as they outgrew each position. Others started in a completely different industry and by chance found J&J and came to love the company for its culture.

Hearing the top leaders of Johnson & Johnson tell their stories, each in their personal style and voice, is like nothing else. It gave me a better perspective on my own career and helped me see my own story in different ways.

Hearing them tell their stories, each in their personal style and voice, is like nothing else. It gave me a better perspective on my own career and helped me see my own story in different ways. Sometimes, you'll even hear them talk about fascinating topics that have nothing to do with J&J or their jobs. I remember one time where the speaker was asked a question about his experiences at business school. He started out talking about the MBA program, but after a while launched into a riveting discussion of a class he had taken on economic development. The talk turned into a mini-crash course on the elements that you would need if you wanted to develop a country from the ground up. For someone like me who had never taken a business course but had always been curious about what they taught, listening to him was simply amazing. But maybe that's just me.

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Oh, one more thing before I sign off: After hearing him speak at a lunch and learn, I reached out by email to a VP in IT and was able to land a personal 1 on 1 with him in his private office for half an hour. That has got to be a highlight of my summer at J&J.

Well, that's all I have. It's been fun recounting the experiences I've had these past few months. Hope you've enjoyed too. If you have any questions about my experience, I'm active on LinkedIn. Feel free to look me up and shoot me a message!

A closing note: The company really emphasized their credo during the summer, and stressed how fundamental it is to the culture at J&J. It talks about the company’s responsibility to the final users of their products and services, their responsibility to their employees, communities and stockholders. I thought to describe it in my own words but I couldn’t really do it justice. So here it is.

The key to a great work experience: People skills!

(by Kevin)

Hello again!

Summer break is over. After having spend 2-3 lonely weeks at the office, all colleagues are back from their vacation and work rhythm has been increasing constantly ever since.

Although it has been rather quiet at TÜV NORD Cualicontrol, especially during the second half of August, I was still able to advance some projects and had the chance to mingle with colleagues from other departments, which I really enjoyed.

In my last post I told you about having some issues adapting to the heat, mealtimes, etc.  The heat is a bit less of a problem now but still continues. However, as of September 16th working hours are going to switch from summer working hours back to the normal ones, which are similar to the classical 9 to 5 model (Yep – changing working hours depending on the season due to the heat! No lazy afternoons anymore ;-) )

Summer night life at a cultural center

Enjoying the weather on a rooftop terrace

I can’t believe that there is only a few weeks left. Time both at and off work has been passing extremely fast! Time to reflect a bit!

The organizational charts are updated, plus we created a new internal directory helping employees to find the person that they are looking for instead of calling one the offices’ receptionists. The guide on how to get started in Madrid is about to be finished, the international etiquette one still takes some time, as I am interviewing people (both expats and Spaniards) in order to find out what is most important in terms of the guide’s content. Regarding the implementation of a TNG wide e-recruiting platform we have concluded the data gathering so that our colleagues in Essen, Germany may now analyze the project’s feasibility as well as potential costs, building upon experiences with a pilot project they conducted with another TÜV NORD company.

TÜV NORD-approved elevator!

I wanted to talk about skills that have been useful, as well as lessons I've learned, and these two are definitely overlapping, so I’ll just go ahead.

Probably one of the most important points is organization of work itself: Setting priorities, having an overview, and not losing track of anything as I am working on a variety of tasks simultaneously. Everyone knows this but it is definitely still worth mentioning: People skills are indispensable as every task I work on ultimately aims at improving someone’s experience at the workplace! A third but not less important skill/lesson learned is about patience and trust, although I am not sure if that is the appropriate wording. Things here are sometimes organized and handled differently (in relation to how I am used to). Still, everything just works out fine and by now I have found a good middle way, adapting the way I work.

People skills are indispensable as every task I work on ultimately aims at improving someone’s experience at the workplace!

Other than work, I’ve had the opportunity of getting to know this lively city better as well as some other places in its surroundings. Also, I had the chance to spend a long weekend at the beach close to Valencia. Some friends of mine came over to celebrate my birthday, we rented a car and made a little road trip! Here are some pictures from Valencia and Salamanca.

Well then, more news on my internship at TÜV NORD Cualicontrol and my life in Madrid next time!

All the best,

Kevin

Thriving in a diverse environment

(by William)

William has just returned from Thailand after completing his Blind Applying internship at Michelin’s marketing department. Did you know that they have their Southeast Asia headquarters in Bangkok? Now you do. William talked to us about his tasks and responsibilities, what he learned, and the challenges of working in an international and interconnected environment.

He had three main tasks during the internship: 1) Working on operational marketing on the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience event, 2) measuring the return on investment (ROI) for the event, and 3) digital marketing. Each task came with its own rewards and challenges, but the most important, William said, was to enjoy the variety of tasks and sharpen his interpersonal skills.

What did you like the most?

At the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience

First of all, that the tasks were really diverse. For example, for digital marketing I worked on the launch of some websites, social media, planned communication, and also with videos and photos. Then with the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience I even was sent on a business trip to Malaysia to work on the Formula 1 circuit. For the ROI task the most interesting was that it had not been done before for the whole of Southeast Asia. They asked me to create a methodology to measure it, which involved a lot of data collection and working on spreadsheets. All of these are subjects that I am very interested in, and I got to work on all of them.

It was also very rewarding that Michelin gave me some big responsibilities and autonomy. For events and the ROI task I needed to get sensitive data and make extractions from their databases, and they trusted me with that. It also involved getting in touch and collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders in other locations.

Working in a diverse environment wasn’t only about the tasks. The internship involved a lot of collaboration with people, and also a big focus on customer relationships. I was working on an international team, so everyone in the marketing department were from different countries. We had different cultures and backgrounds, and it was really interesting.

Working in a diverse environment wasn’t only about the tasks. I worked with an international team, so everyone had different cultures and backgrounds.

What unexpected experiences did you have?

I had never worked in such a big company, and it took some time to get used to the processes. I had previous experience working in startup environments and the main difference is that in a big company like Michelin, whenever you want to kick off a project there is a process to be followed.

There were also some differences with the university environment. At my university the experience was more academic. But it was great to apply all the marketing knowledge that I got at university and put it to practice in a business environment. I was able to use all the theory I knew to do my work the best I could.

What was it like to work at Michelin?

I liked that the responsibilities were big. Especially when you compare it to a startup environment, the figures you work with are much bigger. But you also had to stay creative and come up with ideas about how to strengthen brand loyalty with tire dealers and consumers. Sometimes you have to find really innovative solutions to work with the resources that you have.

All ready for the guests!

The processes were also quite detailed. When working with video or photo, for example, we worked hard on our storyboards and tried to always come up with the best shots and angles, and how to make it fit with Michelin’s branding.

Another thing I found interesting is the market segmentation that Michelin does. I got to understand how a company so big can segment the customers to better address their demands and do better marketing.

Can you tell us about a specific challenge that you faced during the internship?

My most important task was creating the methodology for calculating the ROI on the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience in Malaysia. I had to ask each country in the division to give me files detailing their processes to be able to make an overall methodology. But data collection proved to be very difficult, I really had to make an effort to communicate what I needed from all stakeholders and get the relevant information. What I did to overcome this obstacle was to focus first on one country, and I chose Australia. I analysed their processes for selecting the guests as well as their cost-benefit measurements, their plans for raising brand loyalty and consumer awareness. From there I was able to reproduce the methodology so it could be used in all of Southeast Asia.

My biggest challenge was about communicating efficiently and building strong relationships with other stakeholders.

The task was about much more than getting the data. I had to go into deep relationships with some of the countries in order to make it work. In the end it was about responding to the responsibilities and autonomy that was given to me, and taking good decisions so I could make it to my final presentation about the ROI.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work with marketing at Michelin?

Be prepared to work on many different areas, especially for a role like the one I had. I think the most important part of my internship was to be able to work in diverse subjects with different people. The setting and collaboration were very international both with colleagues in other locations and also my own team in Bangkok. You have to be able to work in an English-speaking environment with very different cultures.

You also have to be willing and prepared to learn a lot, about the business and about yourself. Thanks to the internship I got to work more closely with figures for digital marketing, and I learned that I actually enjoyed doing that.

For people to thrive in this company you have to be open minded, able to adapt, and learn a lot, all the time. But if you are humble, you will be able to fully enjoy it.

Michelin will really take care of you. They will explain how to do things, and they will give you tasks that are interesting to you and will help you develop your skills and autonomy.

For people to thrive in this company you have to be open minded, able to adapt, and learn a lot, all the time. But if you are humble, you will be able to fully enjoy it. I would recommend it to my friends.

 

Getting started with a variety of tasks and opportunities

(by Jakob)

At Enterprise I am doing a rotational internship that focuses on operations and process optimisation. This means that I have the opportunity to visit a different Enterprise department every week and to learn about its role within the company as well as about how it operates. At the end of the internship, I will present my thoughts and ideas on how Enterprise can improve and satisfy even more customers in Germany and Europe. I will present to Jim Strack and to the members of his team who are in charge of the German market.

The new hire orientation day. Every new intern and management trainee goes through it before starting at Enterprise.

Team in the city branch

I am amazed about the extent of the access to data and information that Enterprise has provided me with. At Enterprise interns are treated in exactly the same way that employees are too. The data will help me to understand the operation even better and to succeed in my project. I was positively surprised when I heard about my task and learned that Enterprise is interested in a critical outsider perspective of their business.

I was met by a motivated team that showed me every aspect of the car rental business.

With this challenging task in mind, I have completed the new hire orientation program that every new German employee is required to attend before starting in a branch as an Intern or Graduate Management Trainee. It was great to meet new people from different walks of life who will start their Enterprise career at one of the many German branches.

After the three-day orientation I was at the Frankfurt city branch for a week, which gave me the opportunity to really understand the core business of Enterprise and to interact with customers on a daily basis. There, I was met by a motivated team that showed me every aspect of the car rental business.

In my third week I moved to Germany’s biggest branch, which is the one at the Frankfurt airport. It has been exciting to compare the relatively small branch I worked in last week with the large one I am at now, particularly as it relates to their customer bases. The airport department serves more international and business clients and fast processes are even more important than in a city branch. Teamwork is absolutely crucial, since more employees are working together to rent a car to a customer.

Even though it has been challenging to start every Monday at a different location with new people and new tasks, it is also very exciting to get such a thorough understanding of the company, and I very much look forward to the weeks to come. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and with a genuine interest in showing me every aspect of the business. At Enterprise everybody started as a Management Trainee, even the very senior people, so they all know what being a Trainee is like.

Teamwork is absolutely crucial, since more employees are working together to rent a car to a customer.

Frankfurt on the weekend (boat trip)

Enterprise aside, working in Frankfurt has also meant getting to know a different city. Last weekend, I had a friend visiting me and we explored my new home for the next few months with great weather and a boat trip on the Main River. Frankfurt presented itself from its best side.

Until next time,
Jakob

My internship at peek & Cloppenburg: delivering the future of fashion

Dear reader, it has been two months now that I joined Peek & Cloppenburg and my short summer internship is almost over. Finally, I would love to share the amazing insights with you:

During the first two weeks of my internship I worked in the sales department in Stuttgart. It is one of the numerous retail clothing stores, where I experienced direct contact with customers, and helped them finding well-fitting clothes. These two weeks on the sales floor were very helpful for me to understand the supply chain of one of the biggest fashion retailers in Germany. After my time as a sales representative I moved to the headquarters of P&C in Düsseldorf to join the Menswear Buying Team.

I accompanied buyers and collection managers to meet suppliers and order products that will be in stores next season.

How can I describe my impressions of the Buying department at Peek & Cloppenburg so far? It is super exciting! These two months were full of valuable experiences: I could not only join Peek & Cloppenburg for a recruiting event and the high-fashion fair “Premium” at the Berlin Fashion Week, I also accompanied buyers and collection managers in Düsseldorf to meet their suppliers and to order products that will be in the stores next season.

My daily tasks are: working together with designers in order to develop products for P&C, and supporting the collection manager of the brand Montego in planning, ordering and allocating the products in the different stores. The third part of my responsibility is supporting the Merchandise Controller in forecasting and planning for the current and upcoming season, which is very important as the retail business is always revenue-driven and number-oriented.

One of the reasons why I felt so comfortable here is the location: Düsseldorf is a great city for a nice German beer and a dinner after work at one of the breweries in the center, as well as for a run with colleagues at the Rhine river promenade or for fashion shopping at the “Kö” :).

I warmly recommend uploading the CV on the Blind Applying platform if you are open- minded to new cities and great adventures!

Have a nice day!
Linda

data science and design: finding solutions that work

(by Eric)

In my last post, I described my working environment at Johnson & Johnson and touched on some of my work. This time, I'll reflect on some lessons I have learned over the summer. Along the way, you'll hear about the types of projects you might tackle and the kinds of challenges you might encounter.

Understanding the needs of the user

One thing that surprised me is that Data Science projects don't just rely on ideas from Computer Science, Statistics, or Machine Learning. There are really important human-centered considerations that often go under-appreciated and under-explored. For example, in my projects, I would perform the initial data exploration, run the algorithms to extract useful patterns from the data, and arrive on a viable solution for the problem at hand.

I needed, first and foremost, to focus on empathizing with the people for whom I was solving the problem

All well and good – in total, this would take at least 1-2 weeks to get right. However, my work didn't end there. It then became my responsibility to present the results. I can imagine what you might be thinking now – spin up a PowerPoint slide deck, drop in some nice graphs from Excel, and let it rip, right? Wrong. Turns out, it wasn't enough to be a confident and clear speaker. It wasn't even enough to be skilled at constructing pretty PowerPoint slide decks and Excel charts. What I needed to focus on above all was to get into the heads of the people for whom I was solving the problem.

That way, I could understand what they wanted, which meant I could tell a compelling story (using PPT and Excel) of how the proposed solution worked and how it would positively affect the business, the clients, and the end users. That's what mattered and what the work needed to address.

On the Data Science side, while it was somewhat important to spend time looking for the best possible machine learning architecture, for ex. tuning the set of learning hyper-parameters, and eking out as high as possible a test dataset accuracy rate, these efforts were all wasted in the end if I couldn't get the people I was presenting to to appreciate the usefulness of my work or sell them on the idea of using my proposed solution.

While it is important to look for the best possible technical solution, the efforts are wasted if you cannot convince people on the usefulness of your work

That nearly happened on one of my projects; I spent 3 weeks with another intern building a usable prototype for automatic customer complaint labeling, only to find out at the end of the project, when we demonstrated our final proposal for the business users, that what we presented didn't address the exact problem they thought we were going to solve. It turned out this error was caused by some fuzzy definitions in the project requirements, as well as some unintended miscommunication between our Data Science group and the business users who commissioned the work. Luckily, our project leaders were able to smooth things over and we satisfied the business users by spending additional time adjusting our solution to their expectations. That experience taught me valuable lessons in project management that I definitely won't forget in the future when I get to be the one leading.

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Data Science isn't just for mathematicians

On that same topic of Human-centered considerations, you might be surprised to know that there is a place in Data Science for those interested in Design and Human-Computer Interaction. Another intern in the Data Science group was majoring in that field at Carnegie Mellon. One of her projects involved working with two other Data Science interns to design an “intelligent” (in the Artificial Intelligence sense) app for use by certain J&J customers. For that project, she choose to work at two J&J-owned locations; on some days, she would be located with the Data Science group in NJ, while on other days, she would commute to a J&J Design studio in NYC. During that time, she acted as the unofficial liaison between the Data Science group and the Design group, coordinating efforts and making sure nothing was lost in translation in the flurry of work emails. Her work on that project included mocking up color schemes and data visualizations and designing the user experience for that app. Pretty interesting and thought-intensive work, from what I could see, and quite a contrast from what I was doing.

As for the other interns on that same project, one was studying Epidemiology and another Finance. Not the backgrounds you might expect from a Data Science team, but they were doing impressive work as well. To give you a taste, their work involved designing and building the behind-the-scenes structure of the app previously mentioned – setting up a database scheme to store data gathered from app users; customizing a publicly available AI engine for the needs of the app; and writing the overarching logic that would combine the user interface, AI engine, and storage database into a seamless user experience. By the end of the project, they had not only built the framework of the app, but also created a completely functioning prototype that you could download and try out on your own phone. Isn't that something?

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Learning never ends

I'm going to finish up this post by briefly mentioning my other summer projects and highlighting the most salient lessons from these experiences.

The first project I completed during my internship was purely statistical in nature. It involved finding patterns in medical device sensor data that would forewarn of impending device failure and shutdown, events that if left unchecked would require maintenance calls costing millions of dollars in total. For that project, I processed data and fit statistical models in R and visualized results in Tableau. Ultimately, I showed that anomalous measurements from very specific sensors would predict failure at least a day in advance. During the project, I first learned how to use Tableau to visualize data and create easy to understand dashboards for presentations.

The third project (the automatic customer complaint labeling project was my second), which is still ongoing, involved designing a general framework for analyzing and visualizing the behavior of product quality metrics across US for the J&J enterprise. Once completed, this framework would be used to predict and prevent future product quality problems, recalls, shortages, and costly government sanctions. If anything, this project's lessons built on the previous one's.

It is important to start somewhere, anywhere, so that one wouldn’t get stuck in the weeds of over-analyzing solutions

One of our working group's major challenges was figuring out what exactly the requirements and expectations of the business users were so that we could translate them into a solution design. For a problem with such a broad scope, it turned out to be very difficult! Various business users affected by the project, each had their own vision of what kind of analysis we should do and what the final product should look like. Finally, for the sake of simplicity, we decided to build a prototype that would incorporate specific convenient features and definitions and then modify it in the future according to user feedback. For me, that was a lesson in the importance of starting somewhere, anywhere, even if it wasn't the perfect place, so that one wouldn't get stuck in the weeds of analyzing and over-analyzing every possible solution.

Well, that's all I have for now. Hope you enjoyed! For my last post of the summer, I'll concentrate on life at J&J besides work and mention some things you might look forward to if you get to work here. Stay tuned!

Overcoming your fears and learning to manage information

Improvement is only possible when we keep moving forward despite our fears. Chloé has learned during her internship with Bayer that practice makes perfect, and that every challenge can make you stronger and better. She talked to us about collaboration between departments, having efficient communication, and discovering the US.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your internship?

I learned a lot from the Marketing and Sales roadmap program. The most interesting aspect of the project was to train the Sales Representatives with the new tool we have been preparing. I liked the fact that we were able to interact with them directly and have their feedback. IT and Sales seem very far and so different from each other in a company, but both departments are working very closely in Bayer. More generally, I’ve met brilliant and dedicated people and learnt a lot from them.

Has there been a challenge you encountered?

The main challenge I encountered was always being able to provide excellent work, even if English is not my mother tongue. When I was in a meeting and had to speak, I was anxious to make grammatical mistakes. For me it is very important to speak in perfect English as I want to build my career abroad. It also demonstrates credibility. My second challenge was to prove the ability to communicate with people at all levels and from different departments, especially with high-level executives.

What have you learned from it?

And keep them relevant!

I have been able to significantly improve my English in only 4 months. On the other side, because Senior Executives' schedules are tight and they have to make lots of high-stakes decisions, I had to quickly and clearly present information that’s important to them and ask relevant questions. This was very important to get their attention and their support.

I’ve met brilliant and dedicated people, and learnt a lot from them.

Any cool stories from life/ culture in the US?

In general and especially in the workplace, Americans are not shy to speak up and most of the time they are going after what they want. I really like their way of voicing their ideas. There is also a permanent “can-do attitude” that I appreciate. On a practical side, I found it really cool how convenient everything is: there are Drive-Thrus everywhere and some places are even open 24/7!

Getting started in Madrid: HR topics and bread with tomato

(by Kevin)

¡Hola a todos!

A few days after my last exams I moved to the vibrant capital of Spain in mid July. Despite knowing I was coming here for quite some time (since April), it has been a bit hectic and chaotic in terms of preparation regarding all the formalities. Especially with the overall coordination, as it has been the first time taking part in Blind Applying for everyone (TÜV NORD Group, TÜV NORD Spain, my university, the Erasmus+ office, and of course for myself). However, I must say it has been quite an enriching experience so far. Maybe even partly due to the challenges we had to overcome? ;-)

Other than these administrative issues, there have been several pleasant experiences so far. My colleagues are very nice, the atmosphere is friendly. People usually have some breakfast together in a café downstairs around 11am, coffee and some bread with tomato. This half- hour break helps not only to alleviate the stress but especially to socialize as well. Currently everyone talks about planning their vacation and as I am not going to have any, well… that’s the only thing frustrating but that’s not what I am here for and I will definitely still enjoy the weekends!

The break time helps to alleviate the stress and especially to socialize.

Other than bureaucracy and timing of meals (breakfast at 11am, lunch around 3pm, siesta and no dinner before 9pm) as well as the heat and the drought, which I am now getting used to, I’d say there haven’t been any other difficulties in particular.

At work I am fully integrated and working on organizational topics in HR, internal communication, as well as on cultural awareness issues and now getting started with a project on e-recruiting. In particular that means that I have been working with the executive committee to update organizational charts, and that I have been working with both Spanish and German staff to get started on to two guides: One on how to get started in the city of Madrid (as I have told you, formalities have been challenging) and another one on business etiquette and life in Spain. I am not so sure how to write such a thing without stereotyping, but I’m on it!

Regarding the e-recruiting tool, we are still in the preparation phase, meaning I am mostly gathering data among employees to determine the needs as well as to check the feasibility.

Well, that’s it is for now! I’ll keep you posted.

All the best from sunny Madrid,
Kevin

Telekom's innovation hotspots

Public park “Hofgarten” with the University of Bonn in the background.

(by Benjamin)

Starting my Blind Applying internship at the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn was quite overwhelming: The offices of Europe’s largest telecommunication operator are spread all over the city and it is shockingly easy to get lost in each of them. It is no wonder that Deutsche Telekom is omnipresent in the former German capital. The company has over 220.000 employees world-wide, with 110.000 employees in Germany, and 11.000 based in Bonn alone. 

The team I am supporting is called Group Business Development & Partnering. I will support it in Bonn from July until September, and in San Francisco from October until December. The team is based at one of the largest Telekom offices in Bonn located at Landgrabenweg.

Some of the many courtyards at Landgrabenweg.

The team Group Business Development & Partnering works on scouting and establishing partnerships with innovative companies all over the world. Their scouting offices in San Francisco (USA) and Tel-Aviv (Israel) continuously screen these important innovation hotspots and evaluate potential partner firms and their products. Thereby, they aim at systematically introducing disruptive innovation into Telekom’s product portfolio for Germany and all other national subsidiaries. The first projects in which I have participated are in the areas of cyber-security for both private and corporate customers, and also entertainment services.

It is exciting to be part of influential projects in an international setting.

One of the challenges was to get an overview of all company-internal stakeholders involved in a product launch process. Telekom has an immense organizational structure with many predefined processes and wide-spread responsibilities, which is not simple to grasp at the beginning.

However, it is very exciting to be part of these influential projects in a highly international setting and I am looking forward to the remaining four months and the new tasks lying ahead.

the steps to choosing a cybersecurity vendor

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(by Oana)

If you think working in cybersecurity is cool then working in cybersecurity in a company with 140,000 employees is even better. Hackers never sleep and they are targeting everybody 24/7. By everybody I mean also, of course, you.

Yes, if there is something I learned while working in the awesome cybersecurity team at Engie, is the fact that hackers are not considering the color of your hair, your height or your religious beliefs. If you are connected to the internet or use devices that have been connected to other computers (like a USB stick) you are a target. I am not trying to be pessimistic here, there are also many ways to protect yourself, ways about which I have also learned from the Engie cyber threat squad.

Other than that, I have already started working on the main internship subject. Doing a market research on a competitive sector like cyberthreat intelligence products and services is not an easy task. Besides having to really know the company and the tools used, you also have to understand the current and future needs.

Communication is a key aspect since different answers are known by many different people.

After setting the requirements, the next step is creating a needs and a wants list.
The needs list should be very brief and should consist only of the features absolutely necessary in the product.
The list of wants should be much broader and be ordered according to the importance.

After the budget is set, the next step is researching through many potential vendors and their products, while always having in mind the selection criteria previously set. Besides the many technical aspects, the credentials of vendors, certificates and previous performance also need to be taken into consideration. All the vendors and criteria must be evaluated into a scoring matrix which will result into finding the semifinalists.

The next stage is the most interesting since you get to have direct contact with the providers: interviews are set, free trials are offered, products are tested in order to eventually select the winner.

That is more or less the process when selecting new products in a cybersecurity department. Besides having to interact with other cybersecurity professionals like incident response or forensics, you also have to assess needs, research, analyse and contact vendors for a first-hand experience with the product. And if you ask me, it can't be done better than within a company this big. That is all for now, à la prochaine!

Engie team-selfie at Fontainebleau 

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Consulting on innovations and innovative consulting

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(by Pascal)

It has been a great month since the last post. During this time, I was happy to travel to some of the major cities in Germany and I received a lot of interesting and versatile tasks. Additionally, I had various opportunities to interact with the team even more, may it be during a team event in Munich or some joint working days in Cologne or Düsseldorf. I also got to enrich my experience in client interaction and developing approaches to certain focus topics. Overall, a month stuffed with new learnings and insights.

We chose a different approach than the classic PowerPoint presentations.

I want to start with the last-mentioned topic: client interaction and focus topics. Our team dedicates itself to identifying state-of-the-art innovative trends and technologies and transferring these to client use-cases. Pretty early during my internship, I could join one of these groups and was lucky enough to be involved in the preparation of a client workshop. In course of the preparation, we developed together the relevant documents and approaches for our client.

It was especially interesting, that we had chosen a different approach in comparison to the classic PowerPoint presentations. During the workshop, we gave the client the possibility to practically experience and play with the innovation we were proposing to them. In addition, we enriched the experience by choosing the Deloitte Greenhouse as our location – a place in Berlin which encourages idea generation and interaction in a playful way. It seems as if consulting is changing in some way from solely showing solutions on PowerPoint to entire workshop setups where participants can interact with the proposed solutions.

Consulting seems to be changing from solely presenting solutions to entire workshop setups, where participants can interact with the proposed solutions.

Even though it has been a busy month, the time was not of course dedicated to work only. Recently, we met a part of our team in Düsseldorf to discuss some of the newest topics together and to develop our solutions based on that. However, we also had a number of fun conversations about humorous things which have occurred to us recently. Additionally, the meeting took place in our Design Studios, probably the most amazing office I have seen yet – large open spaces, a barista coffee machine, and gadgets such as swings.

Earlier last month, we had a team event, where the entire DCI Garage team came together in Munich. It has definitely been another highlight of this internship as we were playing Bubble Football and had a joint dinner at a local brewery. I personally found it a great way to get to know my colleagues even better apart from work.

I learned a lot in the last weeks and I am happy to be part of this team.
Until next time!

the exciting applications of Data Science

(by Eric)

As a Data Science intern at Johnson and Johnson, I've had the privilege to dive right into two full projects. By the end of the summer I'm expecting to complete a third. My experience here has been nothing short of enriching, interesting, and challenging.

At the moment, I am pair programming with another intern to tackle a machine learning problem. We are coding an algorithm that takes raw customer complaint data in the form of Excel files and assigns to each row of text a one word category that best summarizes the description. This effort involves the use of Excel to compile and clean the data, Python scripts to implement and test various machine learning algorithms, and Tableau to visualize the results and present them in a digestible format for our business users. I can definitely say that the Statistics and Computer Science courses I've taken at Columbia are proving their worth now!

Writing code very intensely with my project partner Ryan

What I've really enjoyed about working in my Data Science group is the level of trust and freedom that we are given to carry out their work – no one's looking over your shoulder to check on your progress or make sure you finish things on time. At the same time, there isn't complete chaos or lack of structure; we hold project meetings regularly to help align efforts and ensure that each contributor is given the resources he or she needs to deal with obstacles and problems as they arise.

What's more, we interns not only carry out projects from start to finish, but we also get to own the entire result by presenting proof-of-concept demos and updates to the business users (many of whom are J&J department directors and managers). For us, this means that beyond coding and analyzing data, we're challenged to think about the broader impact our work has and find ways to communicate very complex ideas to a non-technical audience.

By showing our capabilities and the power of Data Science to solve important business problems, we get to shape the image and future success of our department.

The inside of the working space

As was mentioned in the previous Blind Applying post, Data Science is a relatively new concept to many people in the company, so this gives us interns a unique opportunity. By showing others in the company our capabilities and the power of Data Science to solve important business problems, we get to shape the image and future success of our department. Pretty exciting to say the least!

There's a lot more I have to say about my summer experience, but I think I'll wrap up my first post here. Stay tuned for more about my projects, where I work, and what life is like at J&J.

The window view right by where I sit

Managing change - a digital internship in a new continent

Change is a given in both life and work. Chloé got the opportunity through Blind Applying to be involved in a unique project at Bayer. As for personal change, Chloé had to relocate to the US. What has she learned from the experience?

What is your internship about?

I’m currently working in the Marketing & Sales Roadmap Program, which is a collaboration between IT and the business units to provide new capabilities through IT tools. I’m supporting one of the 12 Roadmap projects including Reference Architecture, Digital Asset Management and Customer Relationship Management. I’m involved in meeting facilitation, gathering requirements directly from the business partners and I also participate in formal project methodology including documentation, processes and procedures.

What do you like the most about it?

As the program is connected with Marketing, Sales and IT, I’m working with people from different fields and have a perfect overview in Project Management support. I’m particularly involved in Change Management, working on the communication plans, the business readiness, coaching and training plan. This internship allows me to develop my soft skills and to learn a lot from the Change Manager. It also confirms my strong interest for preparing and managing change in companies.

I was very surprised to realize the diversity of tasks in this field.

One example would be assisting the training for the stakeholders in a given project, or preparing a meeting called “lessons learned” from the last project in order to improve our performances for the next one. I also understood something we don’t learn at school: our society is changing and it has a big impact on employees. Companies constantly change. Tools and people move quickly from position to position, so it is crucial to communicate openly.

How are your days like in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Example of a week in Raleigh: I worked from 7:30 to 4:30 and I’m usually going to the gym or to the swimming pool. I have so many choices here to practice; sport is embedded in daily lives of the Americans. I also love to go to downtown Raleigh; there are always events such as live music concert. As North Carolina is very convenient to travel within the US, I plan something different every weekend. For example I did hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and went by the beaches to visit Wilmington. My next trip will be in Miami to celebrate the 4th of July like a proper American!

Meet Benjamin, The Blind Applying Champion Of Deutsche Telekom

Benjamin is finishing his Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Mannheim. His adventure in Product & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom will take him through Bonn and San Francisco! He will be sharing his stories through the blog.

Were you surprised to find out that your internship with Deutsche Telekom would take you to San Francisco?
Yes, I was surprised and very excited, as I have always wanted to experience Silicon Valley. It is a unique environment with a very special forward-thinking culture. Not only is Silicon Valley home to some of the most influential companies, but it is also one of the world’s most innovative hotspots with a plethora of promising start-ups. I am looking forward to experiencing this start-up culture first-hand. Being able to spend three months in the Bay Area and work at Deutsche Telekom’s scouting office is an amazing opportunity.

You have actually founded your own company in the past. What would you recommend to others who want to do the same?
My advice for anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations is to not overthink it and just start doing it. Find something you are passionate about or a problem that you want to solve. I recommend starting with projects, which do not require a lot of financial investment (e.g. e-commerce), and not to shy away from taking small risks at first. It could also be a good idea to ask like-minded friends to join in to share both the workload and the financial involvement. The earlier you start the more experience you will gain, which will be an invaluable asset for your future.

What will you be doing on your first weekend in San Francisco?
On my first weekend in San Francisco I will do some sightseeing: Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chrissy Field, Golden Gate Park and Baker Beach are places among others that I want to visit!

Cyber security, football and macarons - Paris is a world

(by Oana)

"Oops!"

Bonjour la France!

Almost a month ago, life and Blind Applying brought me to the city of light!  I arrived like a force of nature only to find that here, nature was doing a bit of a brute force attack. The weather was pretty bad, raining 24/7, storms were taking over the city and the Seine eventually got a bit out of its banks. A small cold and several metro strikes didn’t manage to get my spirits low so I arrived to La Defense and was ready to start the internship at Engie!

The “bad luck” went away and only interesting and exciting things have happened ever since

The team I’m working with is just great! Besides answering any questions I have, they are also set on helping me improve my French to the max. We have a big lunch together every day and they are making sure I am integrating in the company culture and into the French way of life.

Actually my first task included spending a bit of time with each of the team members in order to see what their main tasks are and what tools they are using. The most exciting part was a trip in Paris to one of the company’s operation center, which is basically the front line when fighting with threat actors. Currently I am also testing some of the cyber threat intelligence tools in order to get a more practical insight and to be able to correctly cover the company’s needs with my market research. Moreover, my knowledge in cyber security is growing exponentially every day. I was very interested in the topic way before the internship but now I feel caught by the information, from the technical aspects to the strategic level of cyber crime.

My knowledge in cyber security is growing every day!

Another thing that I am very than excited about is the location of the internship. La Defense is a business district that reminds me a lot of Tokyo. Business people are roaming around all day long, skyscrapers are making your neck hurt and awesome shopping malls are there in case you want to relax after work. As you can see, my favorite after work activity is of course eating giant macarons between the skyscrapers. Yes, life outside work is a bit overwhelming. Following Euro 2016 and also visiting museums, cathedrals and palaces is not easy. I hope that soon I won’t be such a tourist buff (visited the Louvre 4 times and basically all the other major museum and tourist attraction) and I will start enjoying this amazing city more like a local. Indeed “Paris isn't a city, it's a world"!

All in all, I am holding to my initial thought about the whole experience (and maybe expand it a bit). Getting the internship at Engie was not only the best professional move at the moment, but also the best personal development move possible. The people I have met have already inspired me to do so much more and to evolve as much as possible. We will see in a few months how the world will look then! Until next time!

Bonne journée!
Oana

An exciting introduction to Deloitte and football nights under the Mannheim sky

(by Pascal)

It has been almost a month now since I joined Deloitte in the Garage and everything is going great. Even though I do not want to think about the end of the internship yet, I have to realize, that about a third is already over. Time is running with the same pace, as we work on our solutions and formalize our business. I could not tell on how many things I have worked yet, however, the number of folders on my desktop tells me, it has been a lot of different topics! The Garage is definitely a welcoming place to work at – enjoyable workplaces, a fun and smart team, tangible innovative projects.

I have been treated as a full member of the team from day one.

I appreciate a lot, that I have been treated as a full member of the team from day one. When I opened my laptop for the first time, I was happy to see that I already got introduced to the entire team. My time at Deloitte got kicked-off with four starter days at the headquarters in Düsseldorf, where I had the chance to meet a lot of new and interesting people – surprisingly numerous from the same department, some from my home university, and also one person I now have the chance to work with. 

So how is Mannheim doing? So far, no barbecue at the Rhine and I have not been to the city center yet. But still, it is the football European championships, which are always worth to watch somewhere in Mannheim and a colleague recently took me to an event of our university’s alumni association where I got to know the start-up culture of the city – also a great opportunity.

I am excited to tell you a lot more about my time at the Deloitte Garage. Until next time!

Meet William, The Blind Applying Champion Of Michelin!

William is finishing his Master in Management at ESCP Europe in Paris. His skills in branding will prove useful in his marketing internship at Michelin in Bangkok, Thailand. William will be sharing his stories on his blog.

What was your first thought when you learned that you got the internship at Michelin?
I was very pleased when I learned that I got an internship with Michelin because it was really sudden. I had even forgotten that I had applied on Blind Applying. So it was a really positive surprise.

You have worked as part of a team of online mentors. What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching?
First of all, to see the progress of a student is incredibly rewarding. Especially when they get their first good grade and they are completely astonished and you are there to enjoy this good time with them. Moreover, it is very interesting to have a bunch of students who are from different backgrounds and face different difficulties. You always have to be flexible and never stop changing your pedagogical style to be the best teacher possible.

A book you will take with you to Thailand?
I will take the 4-hour work week of Tim Ferriss or the book I have published this year “Je donne des cours depuis mon canapé”.