My name is Till Joscha Tahlheim and I am in the second year of my apprenticeship as a wholesale and export clerk at thenex GmbH in Bocholt, Germany.
Thanks to my business school in Bocholt (Berufskolleg am Wasserturm), the EU program Erasmus+ and thenex GmbH, I had the opportunity to spend a 4-week internship in Barcelona, Spain. During this internship, I was able to do a training at our partner company: Messrs. Aguilar y Salas A.S. The company was founded in 1947 and specializes in the design and construction of equipment for refineries, the chemical & petrochemical industry and the fine-synthesis of chemicals.
Late at night on the 29th of April I arrived in my apartment in Balenya, a nice typical Spanish village near Barcelona, where I lived during my stay. As the 1st of May, as in most European countries, is labor day in Spain, I had the entire day to explore the beautiful surroundings, before starting my working week at Aguilar y Salas.
On my first working day, I was introduced to the sales department, where I met Mr. Ralf Gerg (Sales Director) and Mrs. Yolanda March (Assistant Sales Manager). During my internship, she and I would work together a lot! The other colleagues in this department were – as Aguilar y Salas is selling their equipment worldwide – on business trips when I arrived.
Mrs. March patiently taught me all the basics and daily routines I should know. She also took me on an interesting tour along the other departments, such as engineering, quality control, documentation control and logistics.
At the end of the first week, I could do most daily jobs myself, for example to enter data into the merchandise management system, prepare enquiries or print plans and drawings of the equipment for the Aguilar y Salas clients. Sales Director, Mr. Gerg, gave me a tour through the warehouse and the workshop, where I saw the huge equipment, such as heat exchangers, vessels or reactors, for the first time in live production. I was also able to take a look at some of the special production machines, such as welding machine to frame plates and big cutting machines to cut steel. I learned a lot about the manufacturing process, the functions of the equipment and the materials used, such as stainless steel, heat-resisting steels, aluminum or noble metals like nickel and titanium.
In the second week, I learned how to prepare offers and revisions: i.e. revised offers with corrections to the original. I also got a first impression of the documentation control department. That was to be the department I would spent most of my time in the third week. I worked closely with Mrs. I. Many there who, while she does not speak English, gave me a great chance to boost my Spanish, a language I hadn’t practiced for a long time since school.
In the documentation control department, I started with tasks such as to complete and correct spare part lists in Excel or put other information from paper into the system. At last I amended test certificates of different projects for different equipment. This was a very demanding task, that required much of my concentration but also was very interesting.
Later that week I spent a day in the transportation department. I learned a lot about the transport of equipment, like organizing special transports and collecting the required documents. Together with Mr. F. Porqueras, I went through the warehouse once more to see how parts are getting prepared for transportation and which equipment and packaging are used to that purpose, like big wooden cases or pillars to put the equipment safe in or on the trucks.
Then on Saturday, May 27th I already had to travel home to Germany. Although I spent almost an entire month at Aguilar y Salas, departure came sooner than I expected. If you’re having a good time, it always does.
My internship at Aguilar y Salas on the whole was a very good experience. It was very interesting to see the way Aguilar y Salas works in practice, as it is quite a different company from thenex. This all thanks to the very nice people at Aguilar y Salas, who not only helped me to improve my language skills in English and Spanish but also never hesitated to share their vast professional experience with me.
And of course, I took the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Barcelona in my free time and admire famous sites as the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, the Park Guell and off course the Camp Nou football stadium, where the FC Barcelona team has it’s home base! At some of these trips, my parents were able to accompany me, as they had luckily found the occasion to visit me in my lovely “part time home”!