Introduction and preparation
Hello, I am a M.Sc. student in Digital Media at the University of Bremen. When I asked myself how I wanted to spend my university life, I realized there were endless possibilities outside and I simply had to take action. Although the internship was not part of my master study, I decided to do it based on my own interest. There was a part of me that really wanted to live abroad and the only thing I needed was an opportunity. Therefore, I searched online trying to find a position that might be a good fit to expand and deepen my academic knowledge. I ended up talking to the agency Placement Slovakia and shortly after the nice conversation, I was informed to have a formal interview with my current manager, the leader of the digital sales team in IBM Slovakia. Yes, I was accepted!! The anxiety came along with the excitement at the moment I left Bremen, the city I finally obtained a sense of belonging. Questions such as how to adapt to a new environment and solve potential problems popped into my head. But I firmly believed that it would be a life-changing experience enabling me to look at the world from other’s eyes.
With my beloved guitar, accustomed pillow and two perfectly packed suitcases, I moved to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Considering the amount of luggage and my instrument, I decided to take the train for about 13 hours to the destination Bratislava Hlavna Stanica, the main railway station. But there were also flights offered by Wizz Air with a cheap price from Bremen to Vienna and from the airport, you could transfer by bus to Bratislava in an hour. It was challenging for me in the beginning because I didn’t know how to call a taxi and I had to carry everything all the way to the airbnb alone. So my tip is to use an app called Bolt, which you could either pay the driver by cash or credit card. To protect my new flatmates, I stayed for 5 days in the airbnb until I got tested negative. The agency registered a PCR test from Medirex for me, which I received the result within 24 hours and the price was 70€. I was satisfied with the first step of my new adventure, albeit all the uncertainties, just as I landed in Germany about one and a half years ago.
Life in Slovakia
I finally settled down in the new apartment located in Petrzalka borough, where my two roommates, a Vietnamese and a Brazilian girl, were waiting for me. The room was furnished in IKEA style and there was a balcony in my room. Three supermarkets, Lidl, Tesco, and Kraj, were nearby. Yes, shopping in the familiar German chain store put me at ease, especially when I can’t read the Slovak text on the labels. But what surprised me most was the supermarket opened on Sunday(!) Also, there was no charge for the public toilet in the Galleria shopping centre, at least in the one I went to.
Regarding the distance from the city center, my apartment was 10 minutes away by bus. Before the internship started, I had some free time to explore the town and stroll along the Danube River, where I noticed people having ice-cream and sitting on the benches in the shape of trees. Collecting all kinds of ice-cream became one of my hobbies that I sometimes made a detour after work just to enjoy it in front of the sunset. After a while, the weather turned cold, shops stopped selling ice-cream and in the meantime, I switched to remote working. Gradually I went out less but occasionally on Friday nights, I met with foreigners whom I found in Facebook groups. We drank at the bar Brixton House, shared interesting stories in life or at work, and exchanged information about good restaurants or tourist sites. Some of them were once interns like me and later on joined the company officially whereas some came as employees. Their companions made my experience much more enjoyable for the fact that we all tried to be involved in an exotic culture.
Public transportation was cheap and convenient but to avoid troubles, here is another tip from the lesson I learned. Do not buy bus tickets from ticket machines, use the app IDS BK instead because you won’t find a machine at some bus stops. One time I didn’t find the ticket machine so I walked to the next stop in an acceptable range but it turned out that I had no coins in my wallet. In frustration, I asked a Slovak guy for one euro because I would be charged for 50€ if I got caught. The funny thing was that I and the guy, who didn’t understand English, communicated in body gestures and fortunately, he didn’t take me as a scammer. Using the app has another benefit: you get a 10% discount every time (the cost is 0.70 € within 15 minutes; 0.90 € within 30 minutes).
My main task was to analyze the digital sales funnel of IBM cloud and present valuable insights to my manager, who was very open to new ideas. One of the best things was to freely express my opinions and not worry about being criticized. He always found the good in my work, which has made a positive impact on me and reshaped my notion. I also cooperated with the marketing team to find the right channels for advertising and to enhance the customer’s journey. In the first few weeks, I worked in the bright and spacious glass building. Even though it was a bit weird to see the office being very empty, I got used to it soon. Many modern meeting rooms were available because most of the employees worked from home. I was allowed to pick whichever view I liked in the office and immersed myself in the world of data observation. Sometimes my manager gave me training sessions and answered all the questions immediately, which was very helpful when later on I had to work independently. Shortly after, the regulation was tightened so I started to work remotely, but with the VPN setting, I could easily access the internal system and data for analysis. In general the virtual meetings with colleagues went smoothly. Working at the intersection of the digital sales and the marketing team was still very fun.