A Day in the Life: Berlin

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Written by Sage Corps Summer 2018 fellow, Ahmed Hamed.

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Why intern abroad in Berlin, Germany? The reasons are endless, and Ahmed, an Energy Engineering and Energy Business&Finance major from Penn State, is here to share those with you:

Housing

"I have been staying at a hotel-apartment this summer. The hotel is outside the center of Berlin, but is situated right next to a train station making it rather easy to commute. The room is a studio, so I live by myself but it comes well-equipped with a kitchenette, tv, desk table and is cleaned once a week. Most of the time after work, I head back to the hotel and I end up being really tired, but there is a really good Italian restaurant 2 minutes away from the hotel. I mostly went there to eat and relax after work since the pasta is great and they would show the World Cup on TV. It was pretty amazing watching football with the locals who would cheer all day for their country."

Berlin
Berlin Commute

Commuting

"The office where I work is about 30-40 minutes away from the hotel, depending on what time we leave and if we catch the right train. I never really take the tram or the bus since it takes too long, so I normally use the train to get to work. The train is the most effective for me since the train station was right next to our hotel and is really easy to use. The train system is really efficient and relatively clean. Somedays the train can be really busy like Monday mornings or rush hour after work, but other days it can be relatively chill. However, the busy rush to work can actually be quite nice as it reminds me that I have to make it to work on time."

Working

"The startup I have been working for is located in the middle of the city in the business district. It is the busiest area of Berlin where most of the tourists visit to see some of the historical sights that are near the office I work in. I work in a co-working space called WeWork, and every company has their own office within the space. However, I would argue that my startup has the best view because they are on the top floor with the corner office facing the Parliament. The nice thing about working in a co-working space is we are free to move in and out of the office to work where we feel comfortable. If I ever feel tired of working in the office, I can work in some of the lounge areas or quiet areas around the building. The team is not very large as we are only 12 people. The majority of people work remotely which always brings new faces into the office. Some days we will be 10 people in the office and other days there will only be 3 or 4. 
Being in the center of the city gives me a lot of options for lunch or coffee as there are a lot of public areas with coffee shops, restaurants, or markets for me to get some food and drinks to recharge. Normally I go for pasta during lunch to replenish my energy before I finish my day. Since the majority of our team works remotely, we don't really hang out as a team after work, but I normally go to lunch with anyone else that decided to go the office."

WeWork Berlin
WeWork Berlin

Startup Life

"My internship is with MayCoach & Company, and they are a Strategic Leadership & Cultural Development Consulting Group. They provide solutions for businesses and clients that may lack the leadership abilities to run a company effectively or develop a healthy culture that is fair and beneficial for all the members of an organization. My role is process management, where I develop internal processes that my startup can use in the future to streamline some of the processes that were previously made. However, my role has expanded over time and I have worked on other projects where I take on a completely different task.
Every day I go into the office wanting to achieve the same goals. These goals are to finish as much as I can, help the company in any way that I can, and to make sure I did something that will leave a meaningful impact on my startup. I have been working on some really cool projects as I learned more about the company and what they do for their clients. Even though I have different roles for these projects, It is really cool work on projects regarding the United Nations, World Bank, UNICEF, and KIA Motors to name a few."

 Ahmed (right) with Berlin fellow, Christopher.

Ahmed (right) with Berlin fellow, Christopher.

After Work

"Normally after work, I like to go back to the hotel and rest, but sometimes I like to go around and explore the city. I absolutely love food, so after work, I like to go and try some of the different restaurants around the city. There are a lot of cultures that are expressed in Berlin, and it has shown through the food I have tried within the city. Berlin has some of the best Turkish, Italian, and Vietnamese food I have tried. 
However, If I do head back to the hotel, most of my cohort mates also head back there. We normally meet up back at the hotel before we would go out for dinner and go watch the World Cup. It can sometimes be hard to meet up with some of my cohort mates simply because of our different work schedules, but we normally make time on the weekend to catch up.
One of the best ways I interact with the locals is by playing football (soccer). I love to play football, so I tried my best to find some people to play with me. Now I play regularly on Mondays after work with some of my cohort mates and the locals who go to that local park to play. The locals I have met whilst playing football have been really kind and have given me advice about the city which has been really helpful."

Weekly Programming

"My favorite program events are the cohort dinners that we had at the start of the program and the midpoint check-in. The city managers are really awesome people who have a lot of experience about work and life in general. They have a different perspective than my own on certain topics such as AI which I thought was really awesome to talk about. The dinners were also really nice because I was able to make some really good and it's nice to catch up with some of the people I don't get to see much during the week."

 Ahmed and the Summer 2018 Berlin cohort at their welcome dinner.

Ahmed and the Summer 2018 Berlin cohort at their welcome dinner.

Weekends

"On the weekends, I normally stayed in Berlin to see what is going on, or else I'd travel out of Berlin once in a while. So far, I have traveled to Paris, Prague, and Venice during the program just to get out of the city. Sometimes it can be stressful or boring to be in the same place all week, so it's nice to take a train or plane to a place that's relatively near. The nice thing about Berlin is that it's in the middle of all the cities I wanted to visit. Flying to Paris and Venice was about two hours away. When I went to Prague, I took a train and it was about 4 hours away which was actually really comfortable and enjoyable."

What Surprised You Most?

"When I first started working for my startup, I felt really confused on what I was meant to be doing since the company was less structured than I anticipated. I didn't really know where to start or what I was meant to know. However, I learned to adapt to the startup culture and make the most out of it. I realized that the people that I worked with did whatever they could to get their tasks done. Slowly, I adapted and now I am able to make more of an impact on my startup then when I had first started working, which really surprised me both about myself and based on what I knew about startups."

Advice

"The most important information for future fellows that I have to offer is to make the most of the Sage Corps program. Sage Corps does an incredible job of organizing the whole program for us, but it is up to us how we want to manage the summer and decide what to do. Definitely, I would suggest traveling out of the program city just to see more of the country or neighboring countries that you might have wanted to see before joining the program. My favorite city is Paris, and I was able to take a 2-hour flight on a weekend to visit and still come back Sunday afternoon. Also, I have never been to Prague and I was really lucky to be only 4 hours away by train to go and visit.
I would also suggest to go and talk with people that you might meet at networking events. They can seem pretty scary at first but you might meet some really interesting people. At the end of the day, they are just regular people that love sports, food, cars and other things that you might like which can make it really easy to start up a conversation. It's also a great opportunity find some great connections for your LinkedIn profile."

Want to see more from the Summer 2018 Berlin fellows? Check out their Instagram account, @scberlin18 !

Are you ready?