The native Indian Shivaprasad Girirajan, MBA graduate from HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, is currently completing a Global Graduate Trainee Program at Bombardier in Berlin. As part of the international program, three job rotations are provided for the 28-year-old. Two of them take place outside the “corporate base” Berlin. Currently, Shivaprasad Girirajan is working for six months in Vienna. In the following interview he talks about the challenges and opportunities of a professional start in Germany.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles when it comes to a career start in Germany?
Language barriers surely come in the first place. At least basic knowledge of the German language is vital for a job start in Germany. I feel the best bet for a non-German speaker is to try applying in international firms or try for firms which have a strong presence in your home country or firms trying to capture your home country market. They would value your experience and skill sets more than your language skills. Well, it is a nice thing to learn the language anyway.
Another challenge is the recognition of professional or study experience. Unlike North America, the MBA degree has a different status, since this type of management education is not yet so well known in Germany. It is quite hard to sell your experience in India, as most people here associate Indians with IT only. Most of Indian manufacturing firms are quite unheard of here. So it is a challenge to ‘sell’ that experience.
Specifically: What kind of support have you received from the HHL Career Services?
I found the intense practice sessions preparing me for job interviews particularly helpful. Some of my responses in these so-called mock interviews seemed appropriate in an Indian business setting but I learned very quickly that the same reactions might not be received very well in the German culture. The one-on-one situations in a safe environment prepared me in the best possible way with regard to language and content for the following real-life assessment centers.
Of course, mock interviews weren’t the only assistance from the HHL Career Service. It helped us in connecting with the alumni, with company tours and so on. But for me, the thing that really helped me was the mock interviews, and the post mortem as well as cross examination of my answers by the HHL staff. I was quite confident and certain of how my interview answers were received by the interviewer and two minutes into the interview, I knew I was in control. It might sound trivial but the Leipzig-based business school taught me PowerPoint skills which helped me enormously in the multi-stage application process at Bombardier. Part of it was to present your message effectively in a very short time.
What do you like most about your trainee program at Bombardier?
The internationality! My first boss was a Croat, my second was a Frenchman, my third is Austrian and my main boss is German. The international mix of employees, locations and tasks within Bombardier is most thrilling. Additionally, I very much like the products I am getting to know during the three job rotations of the international Trainee Program: High Speed Trains, Regional Trains and light rails. These products have already amazed me while growing up. Being in close proximity to them and building them is another feeling.
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