Interview with Philipp Semmler
Mediaschneider AG, Zürich
You have already hosted a B360 intern several times. Another student from our partner University in Zambia arrived a few days ago. This means a lot of extra work, responsibility and personal engagement for you and your team. What motivates you to do so?
The motivation has different causes. First and foremost, we can all learn from one another. On the one hand, this certainly affects both the intern and our employees. The additional burden on the teams is usually more than offset by the social gain. On the other hand, we know from experience that an internship offers a tremendous opportunity for students from Zambia and has a lasting positive impact on their professional lives. It is a pleasure to be able to contribute.
The students from Namibia/South Africa/Zambia coming to Switzerland have not been exposed to a business environment and have never been outside their country. What are the key cultural and professional challenges that they face and how do you help them to cope?
The biggest hurdle is often that they are not used to asking questions. And that can be a burden on the teams, because the learning process is slowed down if the open questions are not put forward. Therefore, it is always our first task to motivate the students to ask about everything. The second is to emphasize the similarities and to simply accept differences. For example, the sense of humor is very much the same, views on religion in each case very different. Therefore, we try to prepare our team leaders to build a friendly and cooperative relationship so that the ice breaks very quickly. From then on the students are much more confident and learn faster.
According to the B360 philosophy, the result of all efforts and activities should result/cumulate in a win-win situation for all parties involved. What is needed to make the three month internship a win-win situation for all parties involved according to the B360 philosophy/concept?
For an SME, there is no denying that an intern to a degree is always a burden. But as indicated in the answer to question 1, Mediaschneider benefits enormously from the experience. Our employees are confronted with responsibilities otherwise unknown to them, and that makes them progress professionally and personally. In any case, the three months have to be prepared carefully so that everyone involved knows what to expect.
How would you rate the cooperation with B360 before, during and after the internship?
The cooperation is excellent. The careful selection of the candidates, as well as of the host families, has a big impact on the success of the program. We also appreciate the professional support on the administrative side. B360 does an extremely good job here.
What is your personal advice you would like to give the student/intern for his/her future life in business?
I can only speak for those who want to be active in our industry. Innovation can happen everywhere. The Internet, especially the mobile Internet, has a huge significance and even more potential in Africa. For people with ideas, this is an incredible opportunity that has not been around until a few years ago. Nevertheless, the professionalization in using the Internet is not yet there. So I would like to advise all students to take advantage of the Internet for their own lives, to learn and to implement as many projects as possible, to learn from failures and successes. That will make them extremely interesting for the job market.