Living and learning: A German university program
Christoph Schiek is a university student from Germany. But that doesn’t mean he has to head out to class at the Baden-Wurttemberg University in Lörrach every morning. Instead he goes to work at Roche’s Latin America headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil, as part of his education. Now, more than three months later, having worked in a foreign country, gaining valuable international experience, he wouldn’t exchange it for anything else.
Over a dozen of his classmates will also be logging in such valuable experience this year in different Roche affiliates and regional offices. All this, made possible by a partnership between Roche and the university, seamlessly combines theoretical classroom learning with solid real-life practical work experience. Roche offers Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management and International Business and Bachelor of Science in Business Informatics courses.
“In all, this program lasts three years comprising six semesters at the university and six semesters at Roche,” says Marc Oetterich, Team leader Young Talent Management in Human Resources, Roche Germany (Grenzach). “Roche was one of the very first companies in the ’90s to start this program at the university. Today, other companies also run similar programs.”
Since its inception, over a 100 students have participated in the program. Marc points out: “Students from the university have had the opportunity to train at Roche sites in South Africa, the US, South
Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Finland, Sweden and, of course, Switzerland and Germany.” All students work at Grenzach (Roche Germany) but also have the opportunity to spend one semester in Basel, Mannheim or at a site in another country.
Says Michelle Medeiros, Regional Corporate Communications Director at Roche Latin America, who was Christoph’s host manager while in Brazil: “My first objective was to give him the opportunity to see the entire pro-ject development cycle, from conception to delivery. So I chose a very challenging project, our first Regional Corporate Responsibility Report. The project gave him exposure to hands-on project management and to work with external agencies and to collaborate with experienced communicators from the LATAM region. For the hosting department too, there are benefits. The students bring with them a creative and fresh approach and this helps us to think out-of-the-box and get inspired.” A win-win situation for both sides.
Christoph realized pretty early during other internships that he was interested in communications and event management, even though communications is not a main part of his curriculum for the Business Administration in Healthcare Management course. “I had already worked in communications for about three months in Roche Germany and had spent time during that phase writing articles for the ‘Roche in Germany’ newsletter and also coordinating Roche TV reports. So my major objective was to add to my communications experience and to gain work experience in another country and culture. This stint offered me both.”
Such experiences also expose students to different cultures and ways of doing things, a big advantage in todays’ global and interconnected business environment. On completion of their course a vast majority of the students receive job offers from Roche. Many of them decide to start work at Grenzach, but some have also begun at Basel and other affiliates. A win-win situation for all!