Q: What is your professional background?
A: I have been teaching German for many years. I have two university degrees, one of them a MA in Intercultural Education.
When do the coaching workshops at GLS take place?
After class in the afternoon, and usually shortly before students have their interview or their first day at their Berlin host company. Sometimes it is only one intern coming to the workshop, sometimes 2 or 3, usually from different countries and different backgrounds. Which actually can be better than a one-to-one session.
Because students talk to each other. They hear what other interns say about their professional backgrounds and they realize that they have to ask a lot of questions in order to fully understand - like a German boss who is not familiar with an intern´s background. They see that an internship is a challenge for both, the intern and the boss.
Who is attending your coaching workshops?
Attendants come from different countries and different professional backgrounds. Ages vary, too - some future interns just finished high school, but I also remember participants who were 30 and older and who used the internship to reorientate themselves professionally.
How does the workshop look like?
Basicly it is a very practical affair. There are theoretical guidelines as well - like telling students that it is a neccesary sign of respect for their host company to research it on the internet and collect information about it. But the main thing are practicalities. I write down question on the board that a German boss or a German colleague is sure to ask:
- What did you do till now, professionally?
- What do you know about us? Why are we of interest to you?
- What can you offer us, in terms of skills?
- What do you want to do later in life?
Of course I write all these questions down in German, and I make everybody write down his or her answers in German as well. I don´t expect students to learn their answers by heart, but I have them repeat them over and over again. I want them to leave the workshop being able to answer more or less fluently in German.
Are intercultural issues part of the workshop?
Yes, they are, but again in very practical terms. Sometimes students tell me about their home country and ask if customs are the same in Germany. In France for example it seems to be ok for a boss to ask candidates, if they have negative characteristics or vices. In Germany a boss is not supposed to do that, so I can calm students down. The most frequent question, however, is that about appearances: how should I dress?
And what do you tell them?
That Berlin is quite casual, no need for them to dress up. Come as you are.
Jochen is one of the German teachers at GLS: more in these teachers´profiles.