Like many students, I was considering staying abroad, particularly because I wanted to know what it is like to work and live in unfamiliar conditions and also to improve my English. From the professional point of view, I also wanted to know what it is like to work "on the other side”, for an importer of ŠKODA AUTO. Thanks to my ongoing internship under ŠKODA AUTO a.s., several options were available and my interests were directed to strategic markets. When I received the offer for a work placement in ŠKODA AUTO India Pvt. Ltd. from the Personnel Department, it took only a few moments before I sent my CV.
I chose India because English is one of its official languages and even though I encountered people who did not speak English in my daily life, within the company and among the people working in the office this presented no problem for me.I worked in the west of the country in Pune, a city that has a Volkswagen plant nearby. Most of the ŠKODA AUTO India departments were located there. The plant is located about 30 kilometers from the city, however given the broken and crowded roads that are typical for India, with cows roaming on them, this meant at least an hour to get to work and two hours to get back in the evening. I was therefore glad that my internship took place in the After Sales department, which is the only department located in the center of the city. Other trainees who worked for VW had to get up at 5 am every day to catch a regular company bus line. The office was about 10 km from my apartment and I had the advantage of travelling together with other Czech colleagues by car.
We lived in a so called society, which is a fenced multi-story complex guarded by security personnel. I shared the apartment with 2 trainees from Germany, each of us had a room with a bathroom. We lived in a quarter that is considered to be the most expensive in Pune, mainly due to the large concentration of foreigners living here. The quarter is full of international cuisine restaurants, clubs with western atmosphere and also shopping malls that are very much like those in Europe. The easiest way to get from point A to point B is to use a rickshaw, however, it is often necessary to bargain the price and therefore it is handy to know the distance you want to travel.
During my stay I worked on several interesting projects, thanks to which I had the opportunity to understand the complexity of a ŠKODA AUTO car importer, which I consider invaluable for my further work on the manufacturer level. During the internship, I had to deal with the problem that not all information was available to me and especially at first I was largely dependent on the cooperation with my Indian colleagues, which was not always very efficient. Most Indians postpone their work tasks and if you are not used to their work style, you can easily get dismissed without achieving the desired result. It is necessary to constantly remind them of your request, brace yourself with boundless patience and accept the fact that most likely, your project will be delayed. Their work style is simply different from the western one, also given the fact that they are a very collective nation. That is also connected with their work ethic sharing similar traits - colleagues gathered in the kitchen all the time to enjoy masala tea or to share breakfast or lunch. Even working hours in India are different, life in the office starts at 9:00 am and normally ends at 6:30 pm, however most colleagues stayed even longer.
Initially, I was astonished by the way most Indians spend their free time. The focus is family, and not only in the sense of father-mother-children, but extending to all generations and distant relatives. They spend all their free time with the family. It is not typical for young people to go hang out in bars as this is considered to be a privilege only of the wealthy, who often live a western way of life. Most Indians do not even do any sports, except for the extremely popular cricket played by children and young people regardless of whether they live in a slum or belong among the wealthy.
I spent 5 months in India and during that time I also had time for traveling, I visited many extraordinary places, met extraordinary people and tasted a number of delicious dishes. Travelling in India can be incredibly cheap and the journey itself is an experience. A problem can be the fact it is quite time-consuming, due to the immense distances and local transport.
In addition to professional development, the time I spent in India taught me greater tolerance, it partially opened my mind in the sense that people do not need to have the same values we take for granted in the western culture. This fact is obvious, however it was only after I experienced it myself that I understood, what it really means. The experience was simply invaluable, both professionally and personally.
I worked in the Purchase Department in the Projects team which consisted of 16 nice colleagues who were always prepared to help me kindly if I needed it. The beginning was quite exacting as we had to manage our bank account and request all Bentley systems such as SAP, TEVON, AVON, B-release database, but everything was arranged sooner than we expected.
If I had to evaluate my stay in Athens, the words I could use would be amazing and unforgettable. Not only that, I met with great friendly people from many parts of the world, and I also learned about Greek culture.
My daily task was to negotiate discounts with suppliers and ensure a steady flow of orders in the internal system called Workflow.
One of the main reasons why I decided on Škoda Auto University was the possibility for extensive internships, not only at Škoda Auto a.s. but also abroad with companies such as VW, Audi, Seat and Bentley.
ŠKODA AUTO University offers a lot of options for an exchange semester abroad. As a result, it was not easy to decide which university is the most interesting. I decided to study at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
From 10th February till 25th July 2014 I had a great opportunity to be a part of the Purchasing department in Bentley motors Ltd. in a small town called Crewe. Crewe is situated in the north-west part of Great Britain.