Selected Profiles of Past Interns
|Peace Research Institute Franfurt (Member of Leibniz Association)
|Franfurt am Main
|Immunic Therapeutics (clinical research)
(medical technology, neurosurgical implants)
|Chemical Engineering (pre-health)
|Sana Klinikum Lichtenberg
|Computer Science, Music
|Computer Science. German Studies
|1) ReDI School of Digital Integration
2) Freie Universität Berlin, ProInformatik-Programm
(computer science education)
|Earth Systems, Urban Studies, German Studies
|Stadtkümmerei (urban development, neighborhood management)
|Engineering: Product Design
|English, German Studies, Ethics in Society
|Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik/ German Council on Foreign Relations
(international relations, journalism)
|History, Middle Eastern Language, Literature and Culture
|Be an Angel e.V. (NGO)
(aid to refugees)
(teaching for the English Department)
|International Relations, History
|Linguistics, Computer Science, German Studies
|Leibniz-Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)
(linguistic research: phonetics)
|Management Science & Engineering, Computer Science
|Cosinuss (Mobile Health Solutions)
|Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (DLR)/ German Aerospace Center: Robotics and Mechatronics Center
(wearables, software development product design, robotics)
|Philosophy, Political Science, Human Rights
|Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN)
Eva Frankel (Bioengineering)
Host: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (Member of Leibniz Association) https://www.hsfk.de
Duration: 3 months in summer 2019
Job title: Biosecurity Research Assistant
I researched and wrote on biological dual-use research of concern. I also assisted with a working paper on science and technology developments and their relevance to the Biological Weapons Convention. I primarily worked independently or directly on my supervisor's projects. My work consisted of a lot of internet research on google scholar. I spent quite a bit of time taking notes and doing case studies of biological dual-use research of concern cases. Unlike the student assistants from local universities, I did not spend much time coding interviews or doing administrative work.
My internship was my first substantial taste of my research area in a non-Stanford setting. It bent the arc of my intended thesis topic. Pragmatically, it fulfilled my internship requirement for my thesis program.
I met people from truly international backgrounds (German as well as Croatian and Scottish). I value those international friendships and perspectives – and of course, having somewhere to stay when I return to Germany’s side of the Atlantic is wonderful, too.
I learned that it is worthwhile to foster independence. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can build confidence and adaptability. Flexibility is important.
Ashley Utz (Biology)
Host: Immunic Therapeutics, München
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Clinical trial assistant and scientific writer
Throughout the summer I was mostly reading through the literature and summarizing content to write grants, Investigational Brochure (IB) summaries, research reports, a business plan draft, and any other information people needed to understand a concept. It was mostly computer work, and learning about new topics and diseases that I was initially unfamiliar with. The grant was for our company to apply for money from a large pharmaceutical company to start developing a new compound to treat a disease. I was writing the project proposal which included researching how to first find the compound computationally, synthesize it, test efficacy in treating the disease and safety, and ultimately design animal model experiments. Both IB summaries were summaries of diseases, including world incidence and prevalence rates, what the clinical presentation of the disease is, how it’s currently diagnosed and treated, etc. I had to write it from the perspective of a medical professional. Lastly, I had to search through the literature for answers to specific questions, such as why oral gavage was not working on dogs. I also summarized data and consolidated them into a report that could be sent to investors.
In addition, I also participated in several phone sessions and a clinical trial kickoff meeting to better understand how biotech works. I was able to ask questions of people in the company about what they do specifically and how they got to where they are in their career. I interacted with everyone in the company frequently, including the entire executive team. The kickoff meeting was with Contract Research Organizations who help coordinate with sites in the countries performing the clinical trials to ensure the doctors know how to administer the drug and any other necessary details.
I am currently deciding what I want to do post-graduation. I’m debating between medical school, graduate school, MD/PhD, and biotech. I’ve worked in a chemistry research lab for two years and wanted to experience what working in biotech is like to decide if I could see myself working there in the future. This internship did all of that, since it was such a small biotech company that I understand how it functions and runs. I haven’t confirmed whether I want to work in biotech post-graduation but I think I’m currently leaning that direction, thanks to this internship.
I met lots of wonderful people that will valuable for my future. I had many conversations about political and cultural differences between America and Germany. I learned how America and Germany is similar in many ways and also distinctly different. I feel like I understand German culture more and how both America and Germany are both in trouble politically (just as the rest of the world). My home-stay family exclusively spoke German in the house, which helped a lot in terms of fluency.
My German is a lot better! I spoke only in German at home and about half of the time at work. My speaking and listening skills have significantly improved. I don’t use all the concepts I learned in class but I can get my point across and my vocab is a lot bigger.
See also her report "My Biotech Team: klein aber fein" - Briefe aus Berlin 2018, pp. 14-16.
Avery Tallman (Biomechanical Engineering)
Host: Christoph Miethke GmbH & Co. KG, Potsdam https://www.miethke.com/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2019
Job title: mechanical engineering and research intern
I worked in a team of four on the company’s newest product: a mechanical pump to improve cardiac output during a heart attack. Because we were in the early stages of the project, we completed extensive research on heart attacks, animal models, and competing devices in the market. After multiple failed animal tests, we met to discuss the future of the project. I presented an idea for a new approach which was approved both by my coworkers and my supervisor. I partnered with a senior-level engineer to redesign the implant using CAD, create the physical implant in our manufacturing lab, and test and analyze our prototype to determine future steps. During my time there I was also able to shadow people from different departments and even visit a different company that Miethke had invested in. I also translated a few documents into English.
My project was definitely worthwhile! I did a lot of reading and research and played an active role in brainstorming new ideas for the implant. I improved my SolidWorks skills and I learned a lot about the way I work with people and think through ideas. I also gained a lot of confidence in my ability to solve problems and articulate them well.
Also, I learned a lot about German politics and what they think of American politics. I really enjoyed spending time by myself in Berlin and felt like I grew a lot by being alone in a different city.
Most of my internship was in English, and I spoke English most of the time. That being said, all of our meetings and animal tests were in German, so my comprehension improved a lot. We also spoke German at lunch, so I maintained a basic level of speaking ability.
Michael Figueroa (Chemical Engineering)
Host: Sana Klinikum Lichtenberg, Berlin https://www.sana.de/berlin
Duration: 3 months in summer of 2019
Job title: Medical Intern
Responsible for attending classes with other medical students, often in relevant topics such as surgical stitching, reading EKG graphs, patient bedside teaching, etc. In addition, I was able to observe doctors in their work in the catheter operating rooms, where I was able to read through patient records, analyze areas of problems, and discuss the approach of the attending doctor. I was also able to work alongside doctors in the emergency room and intensive medicine in helping attending doctors through their thought process in treating patients in high pressure situations. Day to day responsibilities included examining patients in the morning with medical students, reading through consent forms, and attending daily meetings to discuss patients of interest.
My responsibilities were incredibly fulfilling; skills learned from the classes I took were immediately put to use, such as EKG graph reading. Other skills of empathy, passion, and requirement of focus for long periods of time will be practical regardless of whatever I decide to pursue.
My internship has steered my future goals in terms of whether I’d like to continue my pursuit of medical school vs going into an industry first.
Being in a completely German-speaking environment forced me out of my comfort zone, and being exposed to what is and isn’t acceptable work social norms was interesting. Specifically, doctor-patient interactions were different in Germany than in the US.
See also his report "Einatmen, Ausatmen / Breathe in, breathe out" - Briefe aus Berlin 2019, pp. 12-13.
Victor Lin (Computer Science, Music)
Host: Sompani UG, Berlin https://www.sompani.com/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2019
Job title: Software Engineering Intern
As Sompani was a very small company with a very small tech team, I had the duty of helping out on all fronts. My main responsibility was to improve the algorithm that matched candidates to job vacancies. I also helped out with tasks and features that other people on the team requested from me, as well as debugging various issues with the website and product.
The main ways that I helped improve the algorithm were by helping automate the extraction of certain features of job listings and candidates, like years of experience, languages, location, and top skills. I also helped clean up our database by standardizing the locations and languages to a uniform and easily retrievable format.
I am now much more knowledgeable about databases, PHP, and front end development, and I also learned a lot about how I can put different tools together.
I made friends in Germany that I can contact if I ever want to go back to Europe. I got to enjoy German beer and kebabs for a few more months, and also bike around in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world!
I learned a lot about German attitudes towards work and software. It seems like Germans are generally more relaxed (all the Germans at Sompani were from the southern part), and keep a very healthy work-life balance. My coworkers were always doing non-work activities (usually with me) together, sometimes after work. I also noticed that there seemed to be an insistence on open-source software, which is probably related to the importance German culture places on transparency.
Armin Namavari (Computer Science, German Studies)
Hosts: 1) ReDI School of Digital Integration, Berlin: Intern for Kids Program and Women’s Program
2) Freie Universität Berlin: Teaching Assistant for ProInformatik https://pro.inf.fu-berlin.de/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2019
1) At ReDI School:
Kids Program: I sketched out a curriculum for kids to learn basic CS concepts using the MicroBit (a small Arduino-like board). I attended meetings with different refugee camps to propose holding the Kids Program in those refugee camps. I taught two pilot Kids-coding workshops in a refugee camp and helped hold an info-session at another refugee camp for kids and parents. I also worked with volunteers to plan curriculum.
Women's Program: I helped interview students for the classes and I worked with the volunteers for the coding class to design the curriculum. I also helped teach the first two sessions of the semester.
General: I worked with other volunteers for the career program to help plan out their curriculum. I interviewed students for the digital career program classes and I held a technical interview preparation workshop.
2) At the Freie Universität Berlin:
I co-taught (in German) a section of students for the course ProInformatik III: Object Oriented Programming. Section was four times a week for 2.5 hours at a time (for four weeks total). The course was geared at beginners and covered topics ranging from python basics to sorting algorithms, asymptotic analysis (big-Oh), basic data structures, Java, and Hoare Logic (a system used to mathematically prove properties of programs).
This was my first experience working abroad and in a place where the main language is not English. Over the course of my internship I met many incredible people who work at ReDI school as well as volunteers there – I now feel that I have a professional network in Berlin so if I wanted a job there, I have some people I’d feel comfortable reaching out to.
From a cultural aspect, I felt privileged to meet and work with people from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. It was exciting to see how the kids interacted with the microbits and their reactions when they were able to get their programs to work. I enjoyed spending time with the volunteers and getting to learn more about them and their backgrounds.
I had the pleasure of meeting people living in the city – mainly other university students – some German and some international. I noticed that people speak more openly about politics here. I was interested to learn that one of my friends who was born in Germany (but had a Slavic cultural background) didn’t identify as German (or really with any other nationality) – I gathered that this perspective is not too atypical here, especially among college students. I furthered my appreciation for talking to strangers and reinforced the fact that the first thing you say to a stranger often doesn’t matter.
One of the most validating experiences was being able to speak German in a social setting where everyone else was a native German speaker. It’s one thing to be able to know enough of a language to get by ordering at restaurants or in a limited professional setting, but being able to function socially in a foreign language is a different skill – the pace is faster, you often have to infer more things from context, etc. I noticed this skill improving over the course of the summer. I noticed that the most important thing with regards to this is being confident and not worrying too much about making grammar mistakes (which I inevitably will do) since these mostly don’t impede the ability of the other person to understand you.
China Kantner (Earth Systems, Urban Studies, German Studies)
Host: Stadtkümmerei GmbH (Quartiersmanagement Flughafenstraße), Berlin http://www.stadtkuemmerei.de/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Neighborhood Management Intern
With a list of the programs and projects (past, present, and future) at work in Flughafenkiez, I was to research similar best-practices in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. This project gave me an understanding of many projects in the neighborhood and allowed me to discover a lot of very successful programs in the United States. While I had a lot of practice over the summer reading, speaking, and listening to German, this project also required me to write.
In addition, I did a weekly study of the trash and discarded household items on the streets. This was in response to many complaints by residents. I often had translation projects as well, especially in preparation for an international conference that Stadtkümmerei hosted in October 2018. I helped at various meetings and neighborhood gatherings, and performed various basic office tasks as assigned.
German is definitely the most useful skill I acquired. I feel much more confident and have improved a lot over the course of the summer. Learning how an office of this type functions in Germany was also very valuable, as I hope to work in the country again. All in all, the conversations, both about neighborhood planning and the weather, with my coworkers were by far the most valuable. I also enjoyed learning more about German, Turkish, and German-Turkish culture.
I learned a lot about myself this summer as I felt as though I was on my own in a way I had never been before. I had a lot of time to reflect on my work, experience at Stanford, and experience at home. I also met a lot of Germans and international students/workers who shared their perspectives with me about their own life paths.
I’m really fascinated with the culture around education that exists in Germany. I loved watching Kita children line up for field trips, listen to middle school boys play football in the courtyard behind my WG [Wohngemeinschaft = housing co-op], and talk to university students writing their bachelors’ theses. Throughout it all, I was struck by the difference in attitude surrounding education—not in its value but in the approach.
See also her report "Summer in the City" - Briefe aus Berlin 2018, pp. 25-26.
Intern: Jessica Webster (Engineering: Product Design)
Host: Daylight Design GmbH, München https://www.daylightdesign.com/
Duration: 3 months in Winter 2018
Job title: Product Design Intern
I assisted the Daylight team with all kinds of projects during my internship, essentially filling any gaps in their project teams and providing an extra pair of hands where they needed it. This internship was great for learning about how the entire design process is applied to projects in a professional setting, specifically in a small design consulting firm. The three main parts of the design process that I experienced were User Research, Research Synthesis and Strategy, and Interaction Design. I was responsible for leading user research interviews and notetaking in interviews, synthesis of research notes, concept generation from research in the form of group brainstorms and individual brainstorms, creation of presentations for the client using Keynote and PowerPoint, and interaction design using tools such as Sketch and Figma. I also was able to travel with my design team to client presentations in France and in Germany, as well as to user research interviews in Berlin, London, and Oslo. This kind of travel and responsibility is very rare for an internship, so I feel honored and very grateful for having had this opportunity.
The projects and responsibilities were very worthwhile. I learned how to contribute to my team whether I was working individually or with the group. I learned how to work efficiently, how to choose when to focus on the finer details versus letting them go in order to communicate general ideas or concepts in a timely manner. I got to see how research interviews are conducted professionally and how concepts and findings are presented to clients. I became proficient with Sketch, Figma, and Keynote, which are key design tools that I will need to be able to use in future jobs. This internship taught me a lot about professional design. I feel much more prepared to go into a design job now than I had after school.
I learned how to live in a foreign country and how to make friends with people from different countries and backgrounds from my own. I now know how to survive and even thrive in a country that is not my own, and that is very liberating knowledge. My mind has also been opened by new perspectives after being able to live in a new culture and learning about how history can shape the spaces we live in. This was a very rich experience that is challenging to put into words, but I know that I am a better, more well-rounded person after this internship.
I learned that life is not just work. I learned that with travel and an open-mind, one can discover many different approaches to living that each have their benefits and challenges. This made me question how I was raised and the values my society has at home, allowing me to analyze what I appreciated and what I disagreed with compared to German society.
See also her essay "Here fangen wir an / We start here" - Briefe aus Berlin 2018, pp. 5-7.
Justin Wilck (English, German Studies, Ethics in Society)
Host: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (BPJ/IP editorial team), Berlin
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Editorial Intern
The Berlin Policy Journal (BPJ) is a publication hosted within the German Council on Foreign Relations. BPJ is a mix between a bimonthly journal of political analysis and a blog called The Latest, which publishes more frequently on current politics. During my time at BPJ, we produced two issues. The July/August issue was focused on the topic of Artificial Intelligence with several subtopics, such as Chinese energy development, NATO, populism in Hungary, and governance in Ukraine. The September/October issue was focused on German and European defense with the subtopics of Brexit, global migration, drone developments, and political developments in Turkey.
I had numerous responsibilities on the editorial team. For blog posts in The Latest, I would often proofread and copy edit articles before they would go up. For the bimonthly issues, I translated pieces from German to English, conducted research and fact checked, revised pieces, and chose the header pictures for individual articles. I gained exposure to the entire editorial process, from choosing a topic, soliciting articles, editing pieces, and finally publishing pieces. Once the editorial process was finished, I was often in charge of promoting the content that we published, managing our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. In the social media role, I promoted the content that we had recently published—either in The Latest or from our newest issue—in addition to content from prior issues that was relevant to the modern political landscape.
The most interesting part was probably the ability to work on an article, directly in InDesign or on the Website portal, and to see the results publicly available and visible on the internet/through the app. Having a product go fully from a raw idea to a final product was very rewarding.
I think the ability to integrate myself into Germany’s think tank community was valuable because I was able to gain a strong sense of familiarity with Berlin’s/Brussels’ political scenes. Often, I get this view distilled through other perspectives coming into American media. Having the ability to work with European media firsthand both heightened my exposure to European knowledge/opinions on certain issues (specifically defense and technology) and gave me insights into the mechanisms between media, public intellectuals, think tanks, and policy.
I had been relatively familiar with parts of German society prior to coming to Berlin in April. That being said, I think I did learn specific things through my time in Berlin. Having lived in Wedding over the summer, I think I gained a lot more exposure to certain ways of being German and of identifying as German, particularly as it applies to a decentralized/atomized lifestyle in a large urban center. I think prior to living in Berlin/Wedding, my impression of Germany was relatively identical to most stereotypes about upper/middle class white Germans. I think I learned to deconstruct my view of a monolithic German society, particularly a culture to which I, as a visitor, must work to integrate myself into. Although in general, I’d say Germany often exerts an immediate and apparent culture of norm-ascription, there’s room within German society for valuable norm-deviation, whether that pops up in American-expat communities, North African, Turkish, and Middle Eastern communities, or even within certain segments of white middle-class German communities.
Eva Hangartner (History, Middle Eastern Language, Literature and Culture)
Host: Be an Angel e.V., Berlin (NGO) https://beanangel.direct/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2019
Job title: Case Worker
Hello Krupp interns!
My name is Eva and I did an internship at a small, local NGO called Be an Angel during the summer of 2019. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who speaks German and wants to work in refugee advocacy or support.
Be an Angel focuses on anything integration related. We started as an organization of volunteers connecting newly-arrived refugees to short- and long-term housing opportunities, and have grown to meet the evolving needs of our clients. We now help refugees look for jobs, apartments, and German classes; accompany people to government offices, doctors’ appointments and registrations; and generally ensure that people don’t get deported. (I even got to sit in on someone’s preparation for their asylum interview.) We have a restaurant where we offer Ausbildungsplatz (apprenticeship place) for people with very precarious migration statuses – and where you will be treated to amazing, fresh, warm food. We use the restaurant as a community space to offer German classes and host integration projects. In the office where I worked, there is only one other full-time employee, although I also worked with 4 other main people on the administrative side.
My personal job included a lot of casework. Some of my day-to-day tasks were translating at lawyers’ and doctors’ offices, finding suitable German classes, securing an expedited Ausbildung (education), helping people fill out governmental forms, accompanying people to the foreigners office and other government centers, translating the websites and funding materials, and even accompanying refugees who had just arrived the day before to get the basic necessities like toothpaste. I also had a few long-term projects, including streamlining the documentation of our German classes, setting up a cooking event that brought German and refugee youth together, and researching someone’s involvement in protests in Syria for his lawyer. Some days, I also just listened to people’s stories, and reminded them how strong they had already proven themselves to be.
This was by far the most rewarding internship I have done, and I truly felt that my work had a positive impact on people’s experiences in Germany. I was given a lot of responsibility, especially when my boss was on vacation and I was alone in the office and had to screen new clients. Be an Angel was also an extremely multi-cultural setting: the people I interacted with most were from Iran, Gambia, Syria Afghanistan, Libya and Germany. – I learned how to navigate a very multicultural setting outside of academics.
In terms of Berlin, my biggest recommendation is Markthalle Neun. There is a street food festival every Thursday that is absolutely to die for!!
I hope you have an amazing summer with Krupp!!
See also her report "Interning in Heaven" - Briefe aus Berlin 2019, pp. 6-7.
Tracy Roberts (International Relations)
Host: Leibniz-Schule, Berlin http://www.leibnizschule-berlin.de/
Duration: 3 months in winter 2019
Job title: Assistant-Teacher for the English Department
I helped with grading any papers that the students had done in class. I worked in small groups during classes for students who needed closer and more focused English instruction. I worked with students after school that wanted additional language help and practice. I helped develop research and a general curriculum outline for a new and upcoming unit for the Grade 7 teachers. I supervised students while they attended their Model UN conferences in Berlin. I helped students prepare for their school-wide debate and judged some of the competitions. I executed any lessons that some of the teachers had prepared when they would miss a lesson. I planned and facilitated multiple lessons for Grade 9 students. I oversaw and edited students working on their newspaper book report. There was so much room for executing my ideas and agency over some of the classrooms that I did not expect. All of the teachers that I worked with were so willing to have me there to help and participate that it made it such a worthwhile experience.
I learned so much about lesson planning and execution. I learned about different classroom management styles. I learned about small group work and multiple class group work. I observed different lessons with different structures and was able to attend a seminar with teacher-trainees that are working throughout Berlin and felt like I gained much insight to the life of a young student. I wholeheartedly believe that I gained valuable skills and experience that I will use later in my teaching career.
I gained an immense set of skills that are relevant to my future career. The internship highlighted that I do want to pursue a career in education, I do want to work with high schoolers, that I would be interested in teaching abroad, that I do want to get my Master’s in Education, and that I am an effective teacher.
I felt like I really benefited from seeing what a Gymnasium in Berlin is like and what students living in Berlin are experiencing and what is accessible in their daily lives. I felt like I made really strong connections with coworkers and students and outside of the internship I was able to meet some really incredible people that I look forward to meeting in the future.
Living in Berlin was also an incredible experience because there were so many cultural events and programs that I was able to attend in my free time. I felt like the theater scene in Berlin is really phenomenal, I felt like the different art galleries and exhibitions that I attended were all reasonably priced and incredibly well curated. I found that Berlin has so much to offer and it was really a blessing to have additional time in Berlin after studying in the fall to continue to explore new parts of the city.
I observed that students have a lot less homework but that the stress of the Abitur is relevant throughout their high school years. I observed generally in Germany a better work-life balance but that the teachers in the school were struggling to maintain the balance that other working peers in Berlin seemed to be achieving. I observed a more active and healthy society and observed a strong interest in international politics in many of the people I conversed with in Berlin and felt a very stark difference in that compared to my experiences in the US.
Kyle Kinnie (International Relations, History)
Host: ITMS Marketing, Bad Nauheim https://www.itms.com
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Marketing & Media Intern
Large multi-week projects that I contributed to included the Eurobike bike show in Friedrichshafen (one of the largest in the world), the BMW Berlin Marathon, and the Polish National Foundation. My daily routine involved making phone calls and sending emails to domestic and international clients, translating documents from German to English and vice-versa, making orders, creating spreadsheets for advertising prices and locations, participating in transnational advertising campaigns, working in teams with coworkers with diverse skillsets, etc.
The sense of accomplishment after finishing a large multi-week project was the most personally rewarding part of my internship. The most worthwhile skill I got from my time at ITMS was corporate translation, which is an in-demand field with high compensation. I learned to translate press releases, documents, memoranda, etc. from German to English and vice-versa. I also learned to work in a foreign workplace environment and to survive on my own in a foreign country for an extended period of time.
Also, I vastly improved my German proficiency in a way no class back at Stanford could have. I also learned how to cook my own meals, handle my own rent, pay my own bills, and otherwise prepare myself for the real world outside of the Stanford bubble, where we students are not quite independent adults but also not quite dependent children. I learned how to manage differences with peoples from different cultures and learned to interact with them productively in a corporate environment.
I learned how to survive on my own and interact in a completely foreign corporate environment with people outside of the culture I am used to. I learned to live among my two German housemates and to acclimate myself to their different cultural expectations.
I vastly improved my German proficiency in a way no class back at Stanford could have. I also learned how to cook my own meals, handle my own rent, pay my own bills, and otherwise prepare myself for the real world outside of the Stanford bubble, where we students are not quite independent adults but also not quite dependent children. I learned how to manage differences with peoples from different cultures and learned to interact with them productively in a corporate environment.
Although my German had vastly improved after spending winter quarter 2018 in Berlin, my spoken fluency and written proficiency rapidly increased after spending the whole summer immersed in an almost wholly German-speaking office environment. Although a handful of my coworkers and my boss spoke proficient English, the rest did not. This necessitated that I speak German, think in German, and interact with them entirely in their native tongue, despite German being my third foreign language. Near the end of the internship, I could think completely in German and had lost much of my American accent when speaking it. I could schedule orders and meetings with German clients over the phone entirely in German by the end of my time in Germany.
Julia Mendelsohn (Linguistics, Computer Science, German Studies)
Host: Leibniz-Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), Berlin
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Phonetics Intern
Kiezdeutsch, or “Hood German”, is a German variety spoken by young people in multicultural urban areas. As of now, there is relatively little work on distinctive features of Kiezdeutsch. My summer project involved comparing Kiezdeutsch and Berlinerisch speakers, and I specifically looked to see if there are differences in vowel (diphthong) acoustics.
At the beginning, I accompanied my supervisor on a fieldwork trip, where we interviewed teenagers in Wedding and had them read a list of stimulus sentences out loud. I attempted to transcribe the interviews, but that proved to be too difficult as a non-fluent German speaker. Instead, I labeled diphthongs (which means setting precise boundaries on the vowel start and end) from the reading list as well as from older interviews that Stefanie conducted several years ago. Because we need a lot of tokens to have a robust statistical analysis, this took a large portion of the summer.
After labeling all of the diphthongs (which was done in a phonetics software called Praat), I wrote and ran some scripts to extract important linguistic information from the acoustic signal. I then used Excel to manage all of these measurements as well as participant metadata, and built up giant datasheets for statistical analysis. In the final few days of the internship, I ran statistical analyses on the data in R and created plots. I hope to complete this work for a future conference presentation or paper, so I also wrote up preliminary methods, results, and discussion sections.
I have gained more experience with independent research, although I appreciate that I had a strong support structure at ZAS. I also gained experience using various tools for linguistics research, such as Praat, Excel, and R. Initially, I found labeling data to be quite time-consuming and boring, but it is an essential and unavoidable part of phonetics research. Furthermore, I noticed that I was able to label data much more quickly and efficiently as the summer progressed, so I’m happy that I could improve those skills.
I found getting to know the other students in the lab to be extremely rewarding. I learned a lot about a large variety of research areas from them, and it was great to hear perspectives on academia and life from students outside of Stanford.
I am applying to Ph.D. programs in linguistics this fall, so this internship helped me figure out my specific interests within the field. It also gave me more valuable experience in linguistics research, that will hopefully make me a stronger applicant.
I learned a lot about life in Berlin from my colleagues and my flatmates. They revealed interesting and subtle cultural differences that I may never have picked up on on my own. I especially appreciated hearing about how student life in Germany is so vastly different from my experience in Stanford. Culturally, I was able to visit a lot of interesting places in Berlin as well as a few other German cities. I became more interested in German music and food during the summer as well. Over the course of the summer, I made several close friends, both from my apartment as well as from work, who I hope to stay in touch with.
I think one of the most valuable things I learned about was about immigration in Germany. People who immigrate to Germany come to the country with such different backgrounds. I’ve participated in interviews with German-born kids of Turkish descent, who still feel more Turkish than German. At the same time, I’ve met Europeans who moved to Germany to work in start-ups or attend university. And of course, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees who have only been in the country for a couple of years. From all of these people, I’ve heard about the advantages and disadvantages of living in Germany. While some feel as though they have been welcomed with open arms, others feel like foreigners, even when they were born in German or have lived in Germany for decades.
I also learned a lot about how German culture seems to care a lot about privacy, which gives Germany a very tense relationship with many tech companies, as privacy is often compromised.
Michael Morrissey (Management Science & Engineering, Computer Science)
Host: Cosinuss GmbH (Mobile Health Solutions) https://www.cosinuss.com/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Product Marketing and Business Development Intern
Development of a comprehensive to-market strategy for a new medical device product from Cosinuss. Prominent tasks included extensive research into potential partners and stakeholders, constructing economic and statistical models for foreign market comparison, and designing commercialization strategy and work plans for an EU funding application. I worked across several teams within the company in order to design the most effective and efficient budget and strategy for all parties involved.
These projects were great practice in market research, technical writing, and project management. I hope to pursue a career in product and brand management, where these skills will certainly be helpful. The extensive research into the German and several other foreign markets was really interesting. I developed a much better sense of market size estimations and potential consumer adoption rates, which can be applied in many industries.
It was a great experience to be back in Germany this summer, I have now done two internships in Europe as well as a quarter abroad and, through all three experiences, have gotten a chance to see a new part of the world and build international relationships.
Austin Pineault (Mechanical Engineering)
Host: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (DLR), Robotics and Mechatronics Center
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Robotics Engineering Intern
My project revolved around the Modular Dexterous Robotics Laboratory's modular exoskeleton hand and its use as an input device. I worked to optimize various parameters of its functionality. This involved developing custom heuristics to evaluate the hand's performance and manipulability, as well as optimization methods for those parameters for specific use cases of the robot hand. The majority of my project work involved writing MATLAB scripts to evaluate these heuristics and compute optimal parameter values.
I came into this role with not much background in robotics and was able to develop a working understanding of several of its topics. Most crucially, this included how to deal with robot kinematics/mechanics of a serial manipulator, and gave me a good sense of the analysis and design of robotic manipulators in a broader context. I was also able to learn a lot about optimization and numeric methods. The most rewarding part of my internship was being able to assume responsibility for a project throughout my time there. This was also a rather challenging project requiring significant research on my part, which contributed to my personal involvement and satisfaction. Outside of my project, being exposed to other projects around the lab, as well as larger projects and talks around the institute was tremendously interesting in gaining a larger appreciation for the field at large.
I came into this role with not much background in robotics and was able to develop a working understanding of several of its topics. Most crucially, this included how to deal with robot kinematics/ mechanics of a serial manipulator and gave me a good sense of the analysis and design of robotic manipulators in a broader context. I was also able to learn a lot about optimization and numeric methods, including non-convex optimization which I am sure will be useful in my future.
The most rewarding part of my internship was being able to assume responsibility for a project throughout my time there that I had complete control over and see it perform according to my design towards the end. This was also a rather challenging project which required significant research on my part which also contributed to my personal involvement and satisfaction. Outside of my project, being able to be exposed to the other projects around the lab and larger projects and talks around the institute was tremendously interesting to gain a larger appreciation for the field at large.
My goal for this experience was to further my understanding of cultures other than my own and of the world at large. In both my cultural and practical experience at my internship, I feel that this has been tremendously valuable to my personal development. I still remain in contact with some of my coworkers in the lab and the social experience in Germany that I had, including engaging with German history, Bavarian biergarten culture, and what Munich has to offer was immersive and broadening.
My experience during my internship was a fantastic chance to pursue my German abilities outside of an academic context. While my time in Berlin was more geared towards laying foundational work and building up grammar and vocabulary, during my time in Munich, I was able to more fully engage in casual settings. This includes both at work, where I also picked up some technical vocabulary as a side effect, and outside of work with regular Germans
Chase Milligan (Mechanical Engineering)
Host: Volkswagen AG, in cooperation with Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe (Composite Materials) IVW, and the Open Hybrid LabFactory Lightweight Campus, Wolfsburg
Duration: 3 months in summer 2017
Job title: Engineering intern (Plastics Dept.)
I participated in two main projects during my internship. The first was a Round Robin Tensile Testing project of fiber-reinforced thermoplastics organized by the Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe (Institute for Composite Materials, IVW). To accomplish this, I had to research and follow the appropriate international standards for preparing test specimens and conducting tests. I had a relatively small number of samples, but this project took more time than I anticipated because I had to conduct almost all the work related to the project in German. The technical workers who run the machines at my facility do not speak English, so there was a great deal of learning that took place for me to communicate with them and run my tests. The second project involved testing a new composite structural component that would be integrated into an automobile. I worked with a master's student on the project, and we ran various tests over the summer examining the behavior of the structural component under different environmental conditions.
Most of the students in my department are Master’s students who work at the company for 6 months or more and have their own research projects. Another major focus of the department is to simulate composite manufacturing processes and component behavior. If a future student is interested in composites, computer simulations, research in a large company, and would like to learn more about the auto industry, I would recommend a position in this group.
I gained work experience in an international environment, experience in a large company within a different culture, and improved my German-speaking abilities.
I spoke German every day at work, which lead to large improvements in my speaking abilities. I did not conduct all my work in German, but I was able to maintain a good mix of English and German that allowed me to be productive and learn on the job.
Winston Liao (Mechanical Engineering)
Host: Workaround GmbH (Proglove) , München https://www.proglove.com/de/
Duration: 3 months in summer 2018
Job title: Software Tinkering Intern
Weeks 1-4: Build user interface elements in the Vue.js frontend framework for a web-based wearable display device. Collaborated with the team in incorporating user feedback and developing the product.
Weeks 8-12: Conduct need-finding interviews with sales engineers for building a demo kit that could be used to demonstrate the logistics use case for the wearable display device. I had to build a progressive web app that would work offline on the device, build the actual devices and hardware accessories, and then finally build the packaging for a set of eight kits.
The front end development experience was incredibly worthwhile. This was my first experience working on a software development team, so I learned how to collaborate with others in this regard. I also had the opportunity to learn a new web framework, which is very marketable skill. I had a lot of fun doing this design-focused work. It was also very useful learning how to do need-finding interviews. The hardware builds did not involve any engineering as I was just following instructions. It was useful to know how the product was built, but nothing more than that. Overall, I think it was rewarding in that I got experience as a software developer, which is a rare opportunity for mechanical engineers. Building my own web application was the part that I am proudest of.
This internship expanded my experiences and skill set beyond just my studies as a mechanical engineer. I had the opportunity to learn a new programming framework and build my my own app, which are very marketable software skills.
This assignment was rewarding in that I learned a lot about German work culture and hang out with Germans outside of work. The company was also very international, so it was very diverse. I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about their paths. It was also my first time living alone, so I think that experience was also very valuable.
I learned that commitment to work as well as not working are both very important, and that I should take leisure time, or at least prioritizing it, more seriously. Focusing on life as a whole, enables you to be less narrow-minded. Despite the people appearing to be serious, the lifestyle is much more easygoing, and this attitude towards work and life truly materializes in this way.
Gülin Ustabas (Philosophy, Political Science, Human Rights)
Host: Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN), Interdisciplinary Center of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
Duration of internship: 2 months in summer 2019
Job title: guest researcher
I undertook my own research project and helped with Center events. My biggest administrative duty was the international conference we organized at the end of June, where I helped with welcoming speakers, discussion sections after presentations and other organizational duties as needed. I attended the entire conference, spoke with very inspirational international legal scholars including a European Court of Human Rights justice and the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, discussed with attendees and speakers on the topics of presentations, and met professors from FAU, EU, and the US.
My own project focused on the moral arguments for an international human rights tribunal and the necessity for institutional change in the current international human rights enforcement from a political philosophy perspective. I built up my research from my previous courses at Stanford. I used the FAU Law Library very frequently for both online and physical resources, and it had all the resources I needed on my topic, which was really helpful in building my bibliography. I consulted FAU Law and Political Science Professors, CHREN members, and post-doc researchers in CHREN’s academic chair for advice and guidance on my topic and the questions I had, especially surrounding the Nuremberg Trials and the innovation in international law. I had begun with my own ideas, but they pointed me at different possibilities (such as the cities taking on more and more roles in international law, sometimes opposing the states), allowing me to review more extensive resources and cover more ground. Finally, they provided a legal perspective for the more philosophically-grounded ideas I offered, which I very much appreciated and believe will be crucial for my work.
I wish to work in human rights in the future, but I have a more theoretical approach. This internship was very valuable because it allowed me to gain an experience bridging these two. It also allowed me to connect with influential scholars and professionals in the field, as well as helped me gain essential skills for further academic research in human rights.
It was really rewarding for me to experience a part of Germany other than Berlin. It showed me a different lifestyle and a different way Germans lived – I found people in Nürnberg and Erlangen to be more helpful and talkative for example. I also experienced the historical treasures of an important medieval city, where I had the chance to visit museums and galleries that highlighted Nürnberg’s unique history.
I learned how different lifestyles can be even in the same country, but also how local people can feel connected to their long-past history: people in Nürnberg, for instance, explained to me how they felt more like living in “Franconia” as opposed to Bavaria. I also explored first time in a long time how to integrate into a new city where I did not know anyone. It was a very interesting experience for me to connect with the students at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and have the feeling of being back at Stanford, showing me how similar we actually were.
I became better in understanding different accents. People in Nürnberg and especially Erlangen did not switch to English when they understood I was not German like people in Berlin, so I not only spoke more German, but also had to learn how to express myself in hard situations where I did not know how to say something exactly in German and/or did not quite understand the other person. As such, my time during Krupp increased my flexibility and spontaneity in German. I also learned some law/political theory specific terms in German per my research, and my language skills really helped when the cited author/work was German.
Intern: Annina Hanlon (Psychology)
Throughout my internship, I primarily worked on gathering search engine and website data, and using various online tools to analyze this and existing data. I became much better at using Google Sheets and Excel, and organizing large quantities of information in strategic and descriptive ways. I did not have one large task, but rather worked on many smaller ongoing projects, monitoring and analyzing the performance of the company websites and their individual webpages and keywords in Google's search results.
I also did some proofreading, general market research, presentation-making and small website edits. There wasn't anyone focused on the small U.S. site that sofatutor published a couple of years ago, so I did a lot of work related to this, assessing its current position in terms of search optimization, market competitors, and available content. I created small presentations about most of the work I did in order to share my findings with my team.
Since many Psychology majors end up in marketing, I had been considering this career path and wondered what it would be like. In my internship position on the search engine optimization team, I had the opportunity to meet individually with members of almost all other teams within the marketing department and learn about their responsibilities and goals. This was interesting and invaluable in helping me decide what I would like to do in the future. The internship was personally rewarding as well because I really enjoyed working with my coworkers and getting to practice my German. I also actually enjoyed commuting to work every morning on the U-Bahn, along with so many other Berlin workers. I got a feel for Berlin work-life.
I think the two most important skills I'm taking away from this internship are (1) experience working in a primarily German-speaking department and (2) a basic understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). I didn't know anything about SEO when I started my internship, but it is actually crucial for any business with an online presence. Despite this fact, most people are not familiar with it and often unintentionally harm their online presence while maintaining their sites. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of SEO will be generally useful for whatever I may do in the future.
My greatest personal/social learning came from living the differences and similarities which exist between German culture and U.S. culture. I study cultural psychology, so it's not as if the range of human experiences as well as the likenesses which exist across cultures were particularly surprising, but there's a huge distinction between reading something in a textbook and feeling it for yourself. You understand things in a different way after experiencing them. Since I have previously travelled so little, this was incredibly valuable.
See also her report about her second internship in Germany "A Process of Discovery" - Briefe aus Berlin 2019, pp. 14-15.