A large component of the exchange is the two-week internship in the respective other country. These internship positions give students an insight into the economy and working life of the other country.
Of course this should also promote the idea of a college course or vocational training in Germany, which is further facilitated by the Sprachdiplom, a language certificate that students can take at St. Kilian‘s.
Here in Dublin, work experience places are found by the organising teachers. In this respect, St. Kilian’s has to rely on the parents offering places. In previous years, many German students were able to gather initial experience in the Irish work environment. There were placements in pharmacies, museums, cafés and engineering firms, to name but a few. We are very grateful for these opportunities!
Since 1987, the work experience places in Germany have been organised in a very generous and unbureaucratic manner by the Rotary Club. Our students were able to try out very diverse occupations, e.g. in hospitals and hotels and even at the car manufacturer Daimler. Our students are very well looked after. Part of the programme is a festive dinner at a hotel, where they tell the club members of their experiences.
Work Experience Testimonies
Asklepios Hospital – Joshua McMillan, 2019
The Asklepios hospital is located in the suburb of Harburg. It belongs to a hospital group which includes about 160 healthcare facilities – Europe’s biggest privately owned hospital operator. The Asklepios hospitals have 47.000 employees in 14 German states. In the Harburg clinic there were more than twenty different departments, among them cardiology, psychiatry and neurology.
From the 4th to the 17th of April my classmate Isaac and I completed an internship at the Asklepios clinic in Harburg. We worked for 7 days in the gastrointestinal endoscopy department, mostly in the recovery and operation room. The last three days we worked in the lung endoscopy department.
I had numerous different tasks at work. The first two days I spent in the operating theatre as a surgery assistant. Of course, as a student there wasn’t a lot I could do, but the doctors explained all the different steps of the operation in detail. The first time, I found it a little nauseating, but after the third day I had gotten used to the situation. After that, I worked for three days in the recovery room. Here, we had greater responsibility and were able to help more. We attached the cables to the patients before the operation and removed them afterwards, measured blood pressure and pulse and wrote down the result.
On a typical day at my placement, my host drove me to the clinic at 8:00 a.m. There, I collected new scrubs in the dressing area and changed. Then I went with Isaac to our department and we discussed with our colleagues what we would do for the day. For example, on the third day I worked in recovery from 9 a.m. until noon. The new patients came into the room, we allocated a bed to them, the nurse helped them change and took some blood. When the doctors were ready, we rolled them into the operating theatre. When they were finished, the nurses brought them back. Then I took their blood pressure. After half an hour we removed the cables and let them go home or brought them to a ward. At noon, I had half an hour lunch break. In the afternoon, we worked a further three hours.
The problem in the beginning was that we kept feeling sick in the operating theatre because we had never seen so much blood and internal organs. But after a few days we got used to it. The doctors recommended having a good breakfast.
I had not expected much, but was very surprised how much responsibility I was given. I was also surprised how interesting I found it because medicine is actually not something I’m really interested in. Although I will probably never work in a hospital, I gained a lot of life experience, and for that I am very grateful.
Karl Schütt Joinery – Nicholas Hederman, 2018
I worked at Karl Schütt Joinery. I learned how to use tools and machines for cutting wood. I practiced manufacturing new objects. I made brooms and puzzles called “devil’s knot”. I had to remove waste and burn leftover wood. On my workdays, I had to be there at 8 a.m. As soon as I arrived, I had to start working, cutting and measuring wood that I needed for my projects. I had a workstation with a vice and clamp. I worked on my projects until 9:30, and then we had our first break. Then it was back to work and sometimes we were asked to help the other carpenters, handing them long pieces of wood that had to be fed into machines, or we had to tidy up. At 1 p.m. we had a second break, half an hour for lunch. Then we went back to work until 3 p.m. On Fridays we finished earlier and there was a lot of tidying up.
My colleagues helped me with everything. They showed me different techniques of cutting wood with a saw and other things. They were very chatty and very easy to work with.
The first day was difficult as I had no idea how to use the tools and my carpentry vocabulary was very limited. But my colleagues helped me, and I learned a lot in a short time.
To be honest, I did not know what to expect, but I liked my placement and I’m very happy to have had the opportunity.
The placement was helpful for me as I had always considered working with my hands, and now I want to find a craft, maybe not carpentry, but something similar.