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.
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.