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Welcome to Eckernförde – punker trainees host refugee interns

Each of the 22 punker trainees will host an intern who came to the Eckernförde area as a refugee and hope to find a new home here. Today, we welcomed the first six interns who will spend the next two weeks with us at the punker headquarters.

“Typically German”, one might say: after greeting our new interns, we started the day off with a safety briefing. Our training manager Svenja Wriedt explained the regulations  for the prevention of industrial accidents.  After this compulsory agenda item, we did a round of introductions. Each trainee and each intern introduced themselves and wrote down what is important to them at work. We realized we have great deal in common: we all agree that nice co-workers and having fun are the most important factors for feeling comfortable at work. Other key factors are accuracy and safety. The latter giving the cue for the next item on the agenda: handing out the safety shoes. Fully equipped, we started off on a tour of the plant with our production manager Markus Oberle. Our six interns took the opportunity to question Mr Oberle about our products and our assembly and production machines. They were amazed to hear that almost all of them are being designed and set up by our own employees. To give them time to digest the flood of information, we called it a day around noon. We will all meet our interns again tomorrow morning and escort them to their workplaces.

Each of us will attend to an intern during the entire two weeks of their internship at punker and function as a mentor to them. The social-integrative internship is supposed to find answers to the question “What is work like in Germany and especially in a manufacturing, medium-sized company?”.  And to help our interns find a job in their new home, of course. When looking through the internship applications, we noticed that a lot of applicants had professional qualifications or experience they could put to work at punker. Ambesajur Desale Asfaw from Eritrea is about to get his fork-lift license and looks forward to testing his driving skills in our logistics department as soon as he passes the exam. My intern Nosheirwan Omar worked as a an executive engineer in his homeland of Syria and his university degree was recognized by the chamber of engineers and architects in Schleswig-Holstein just now. Over the next two weeks he will get to know our R&D, design and quality management departments. He plans to go to graduate school in Northern Germany to get his master’s degree in engineering after passing another high standard German language course.

Our HR director Felix Hegmann accurately called this integration project a “Welcome to refugees by the small- and medium-sized enterprise in Northern Germany”. But to us, it is a lot more than that. We consider it an opportunity for all of us at punker to broaden our horizon and increase awareness for and understanding of the integration of people who came here in hopes of finding a new and safe home. We especially look forward to the personal interaction and exchange with “our” interns and hope to learn a few things, for example about the differences between everyday work life here and in their home country. To give our colleagues the opportunity to partake in this project, each trainee will write a report about the internship together with their intern which will be published in our employee magazine “aufwind” and on the punker Blog.

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