In the thick of things
My name is Teresa Cuenca Fernandez and as my traineeship at the Crop Science Division of Bayer draws to a close, I can look back on an exciting time. A time during which I was right in the thick of things: the business, the employees, the flow of communication. I worked on many projects that gave me special insights into a variety of topics, and I learned a lot – especially about an industry that I had never thought would be so fascinating.
Aspirin, Bepanthen, Iberogast. A pharmaceutical company based in Leverkusen. That’s pretty much all I knew about Bayer before my traineeship, and I’m sure that many other people would say the same thing. Crop science, crop protection products, seeds – for me, these were an entirely new and exciting world. And it became even more exciting when Bayer announced its plan to acquire the seed company Monsanto. Suddenly, the Crop Science business was in the spotlight as never before, not only for the general public but also for Bayer and its employees. And I was right in the thick of it, as a trainee in internal communications at Bayer’s Crop Science Division. I could hardly have picked a more interesting time to be there.
Internal communications plays a special role during change processes like this one. It is important for employees to feel informed and to support the change. At the same time, the day-to-day operations must continue, with employees focusing on their “real” jobs. Of course, this was true for me as well: In addition to continually supporting the change process, I needed to keep up with the everyday tasks of internal communications.
My area of responsibility included such tasks as maintaining the intranet, sending letters to employees from the head of the Crop Science Division, preparing site brochures and helping to organize events such as town halls or putting together our annual Christmas video. A good variety of different tasks, always with the focus on the employees and their needs. This is also precisely why I enjoyed working in internal communications so much. I was constantly in contact with employees from a wide variety of departments – learning about their jobs, paying attention to the information they needed, and organizing informational and motivational events.
The best example of this is maintaining the intranet, which was one of my duties throughout my traineeship. A major part of this process involves managing the news items: identifying topics that are relevant for employees, editing the copy and posting it on the intranet as soon as possible. There’s no set procedure for doing this. Sometimes colleagues come to me with topics; sometimes I run across them on my own. Sometimes I write the articles myself; sometimes someone else does. The topics vary widely, and as a result I have learned a lot about our business and about agriculture. For example, one colleague happily gave me a two-hour tour of his laboratory in Residue Analysis. I have learned so much about Crop Science and especially the agricultural industry by visiting our ForwardFarms, participating in various industry events such as Fruit Logistica, and attending events such as the Youth Ag-Summit. I have come to see this as one of the most exciting, most essential industries in the world, and I am happy to offer people a look behind the scenes. Our work here is the subject of fairly heated debate in society, and ordinary consumers rarely have a chance to talk with experts such as our researchers about topics such as bee health or food safety.
Connected with other departments
Contact with employees obviously played a special role in my traineeship. But I would also emphasize that having contact with other communications departments was equally important. I was based in internal communications, but I also had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with colleagues on some assignments in the area of external, strategic and digital communications, in addition to our planned rotation of a few weeks. In addition, I was able to work with colleagues at our headquarters in Leverkusen as well as all over the world. All of these departments are closely connected, and the team spirit is terrific, especially in the challenging times we are now experiencing.
In short: Seize opportunities
My conclusion? I learned a great deal during my time at Bayer. What helped me most was curiosity. I was eager to learn more about an industry that was largely unknown to me, but also to take on tasks and learning opportunities whenever they were offered. So if I were asked for tips about going beyond the opportunities offered in the traineeship itself, here’s what I’d suggest: Always keep an eye out for projects that interest you, but also events you can participate in, places you can visit, or even just coworkers that you’d like to talk with. Really take it all in. Because Bayer offers a wide range of opportunities – you just need to take advantage of them.
This post is also available in: German