The Volkswagen Professional Guidance Program constitutes one part of the ongoing collaboration between Kiron and Volkswagen, which aims to foster exchange between refugee students and Volkswagen employees. As most of the VW guides are recent graduates and doctoral students, they are able to advice students both on issues related to their academic studies, as well as on the process of transferring into working life. Last year, the second round of the VW Professional Guidance Program came to an end. 28 female Kiron students and Volkswagen employees participated in the program. One of the highlights was a day spent in Wolfsburg, where participants visited the VW site, met the VfL women’s soccer team, and took part in an intercultural workshop.
We asked some of the students and VW employees to share their expectations and experiences of taking part in the program:
VW employee Francesca
Who are you? My name is Francesca. I am 27 years old and I was born in Wolfsburg, but I have italian roots. I studied to become an electronics development technician at Ostfalia Wolfsburg.
Why is it important for you to be part of the Professional Guidance Program? What is your motivation?
I wanted to give others the feeling that they are welcome here. I am happy to help with my own experiences but also I want to learn something new.
What was it like to meet your mentee? How would you describe her?
She is a confident, smart, intelligent and attractive young woman. It’s a great experience when different cultures meet. I would have never expected to meet women this determined, focussed and confident in this workshop. She is like this despite all of the things she had to endure. Ahd (her mentee) and I clicked at the very moment we met, we are both very open and affectionate people.
What do you think you can learn from each other / What would you like to learn?
It’s worth it to fight for your goals in life and to never give up. I am very impressed that our mentees are so focussed and independent!
What do you think you can learn from each other / what would you like to give/teach?
I think we can learn much more from them and we can only profit from such highly motivated women! Nonetheless I’m there to help and to answer every single question.
Kiron student Rania
Who are you?
I am a 34-year-old lady from Iraq. I got my bachelor degree in engineering in 2006 and worked for about ten years in Iraq before I moved to Germany in 2016. Now I am preparing to study industrial engineering.
Why was it important for you to be part of the Professional Guidance Program? What was your motivation?
I wanted to know more about the culture here in Germany, but most importantly I wanted to communicate with a professional woman in a semi-formal way so I could ask different questions about work, qualifications and work-life balance.
What was it like to meet your buddy? How would you describe her?
She is a very nice woman, full of positivity and super kind. I was lucky enough to meet her twice. We had lots of fun both times and got to know each other. We check up on each other regularly and exchange our latest news.
What do you think you have learned from each other? What would you liked to have learned?
The one important thing I learned and that I wasn’t expecting, is that we both had more similarities than differences. Although we have grown up in two entirely different countries and cultures, we share the same views and opinions in many aspects (religion, social life, family life).
What did you give/teach your mentor?
I told her about me, my life in my home country and my challenges in Germany. It’s a bit difficult to guess what she’s learned from that, but I hope it’s that we are more similar than different!
Kiron student Nahrain
Who are you? Describe yourself (name/background/field of work/study…)
I am a freelance journalist currently working with multiple international online publishers. I have a postgraduate degree in political science from Cairo University.
Why is it important for you to be part of the Professional Guidance Program? What was your motivation?
Engaging with an international company’s project allows me to better understand the workforce and labor regulations in Germany. It also increases my personal career
development and integration.
What was it like to meet your mentor? How would you describe her?
Anne Christin and I clicked from the moment we met and she has been a perfect fit as my mentor. She is not only a very friendly person but she has also had a successful career history. We share a lot in common and have many similar perspectives.
What do you think you can learn from each other? What would you like to learn?
I expect to learn a lot from her about international companies and integration into the German workforce.
What do you think you can teach your mentor? What would you like toteach them?
My hope is to encourage my mentor to engage in refugee projects and to contact them in order to explore their points of strength and capabilities.
Author: Sofia Hedberg
– supported by Volkswagen Flüchtlingshilfe