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Internship Field: Car Industry, Market Research, Management Research

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Host: Volkswagen AG

Location: Wolfsburg

Duration: June – September 2007


Description: Internship in the Department "Gesamtfahrzeug-Funktion und -Freigabe/ Technische Typbegleitung":

My internship was comprised of two projects. The smaller part was designed so that I could complete it at home during the three week vacation period when the majority of VW employees are on vacation. My task was to complete an Internet-based research project on the current New Beetle. My research focused on the following topics: what current New Beetle owners like about their car, what they believe could be improved, what the competitors to the New Beetle are, and identify some demographic information about New Beetle owners. This information would help inform the design of the next-generation New Beetle. While all of this information and much more is researched by VW's own marketing and product-development departments, the intent was that I might provide a valuable outsider's perspective, particularly with respect to the American market.

My second task was the focus of nine of my 12 weeks with VW. My assignment was to interview representatives from all of the main departments with which my department works and find out how my department's work process could be improved. As my department's work depends heavily on interaction and coordination with other departments, the efficiency and efficacy of this work process is very important to the company. Along with the interviews, I spent considerable time attending meetings at various levels and observing other elements of the work process. At the end of my internship, I compiled all of my information in the form of a written report, as well as a summary in the form of a presentation that I gave to the department management.

Comments: My work was definitely worthwhile. The second, major task was particularly rewarding. Not only did it provide be a unique and deep look into how a major automaker works, it also challenged me in completely new ways. Gaining an understanding of the extremely complicated work process and conducting interviews regarding how it could be improved is a daunting task; doing it all in German added significantly to its difficulty. That being said, the skills I practiced in this internship will continue to be rewarding. Beyond greatly improving my German, I learned how important it is to be tactful when inquiring about suggestions that may reflect poorly on one's coworkers. I also developed my skills in effectively summarizing and presenting a large amount of complicated information.

Personally rewarding: My intention in doing an internship at a car company was to gain some personal insight into whether or not I want to continue this type of work in my own career. In this sense, my internship was absolutely rewarding. I discovered that, while I would likely not prefer to do the exact type of work as the people within my department, it is very fulfilling to work around cars and within this type of fast-paced and collaborative environment. [...]
Doing this internship allowed me to double the length of time that I spent in Germany. As such, I was able to spend more time traveling within and outside of the country. I was also able to make some German friends in a way that I never really had the opportunity to do in Berlin, which deepened my understanding of German culture.

German language skills: The biggest improvement came in speaking skills. At work, I was forced to improve my comprehension skills so that I could understand meetings and interviews. This also improved my vocabulary regarding technical aspects of the automobile. From the friends I made in Wolfsburg, I was able to speak German in a more relaxed and friendly setting, which made a big improvement in my speaking skills.

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