This post was originally published in 2013. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
I’m one of the two lucky trainees who got to go to Rocklin, California to complete a 10-week internship and learn more about the US and its people and culture. Sirin (my fellow trainee) and I are both living in our own little apartments in Roseville, a small neighboring city, and have been assigned a company car while we’re here. And let me tell you something: That car’s a godsend. Sure, driving to work takes only about five minutes, but the distance is not the problem – it’s the heat! The temperatures around here usually hover around 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), and everywhere you go, the AC is cranked up, which takes a bit of getting used to.
Work and duties
Lisa (r.) and Sirin at the Intersolar North America
But let’s get back to the business at hand: I’m currently part of a small ten-person team at the Customer Relations Department, which is roughly the equivalent of what we call an “Auftragszentrum”(order processing center) in Germany. Up until now, I’ve been mostly in charge of small tasks, such as creating project folders and PV systems in SAP, scanning and archiving documents, and entering warranty information, but I’ve also been contributing to larger projects. For example, right now we’re in the process of pruning SAP, and I’ve created a warranty database (in which I’ve compiled customer and inverter information) that will come in quite handy, since service contracts are also very profitable here. Now that I’ve been here for five weeks though, I’m getting some new tasks and duties, which is something I’ve really been looking forward to. Last Tuesday, Sirin and I went to Intersolar North America, where we visited every booth with another fellow team member and “spied” on the competition. We found the whole thing to be fascinating, since it was our first opportunity to realize just how big the solar market is over here too.
Healthy food 😉
I have nothing but good things to say about our fellow team members here. It’s not rare for someone to strike up a conversation with me because they’re interested in learning more about how things work in Germany and how I like it here. In fact, some people even know a couple of sentences or words in German, which makes our conversations a lot of fun. But far be it from me to imply that the camaraderie here stops at closing time – we’ve already been to a baseball game, a garden party, many BBQs and dinners, and a bar for a nice cold beer after work. But far be it from me to imply that the camaraderie here stops at closing time – we’ve already been to a baseball game, a garden party, many BBQs and dinners, and a bar for a nice cold beer after work. Which reminds me of a funny stereotype Americans hold about us Germans: They really, really believe that we drink beer every single day in Germany, and get excited when I drink one with them and show them what a “Radler” (beer-based mixed drink) is. 🙂
Trips throughout California
We also take advantage of every single weekend and go on trips and do all sorts of activities. There really is a lot to see and discover in California, but the sheer size of the state means that getting to places takes a while sometimes! We’ve already been to Lake Tahoe (which is found along the border between California and Nevada); Sacramento, where we checked our mandatory cultural tour off the list after visiting the State Capitol Museum and the seat of government; celebrated the 4th of July; spent a long weekend in Santa Cruz, right on the Pacific; and met our two fellow trainees in Denver in the large, loud, and crazy city of Las Vegas. Not to mention we already have a very strict schedule for the coming weeks: San Francisco, the SMA Summer Family Fest, Yosemite Park, and maybe even a trip to Los Angeles and Disneyland, after which it’ll soon be time to come back home.
In other words, we have five very exciting weeks ahead of us!