A Slightly Different Internship Report

by Hannah Schulze-Wettendorf

Working at a small company that combines a large corporate organization with the startup world can be quite a distinct experience from what many of us have seen before. A lot of corporate organizations want to adopt some of the "startup spirit" and work in a leaner, faster and maybe even more fun way, but what does that actually mean? One thing is sure: there is much more to it than table soccer and free drinks. It's the exceptional way of tackling things. In Chemovator insights: "A Slightly Different Internship Report", Hannah shares four principles of startup spirit, which inspired her most during her internship @ Chemovator.

Hannah did an internship in Social Media & Marketing at Chemovator from February to August 2019.

When I first heard about the internship opportunity at Chemovator, my first reaction was Chemowhat? An incubator? Isn’t that a device to breed young living beings?

But providing a place for employees, hence, enabling them to become intrapreneurs to “breed” their own business ideas was new to me. Incubators or other sorts of corporate innovation programs such as Chemovator have become quite a big thing: Daimler is doing it. Merck is doing it. SAP is doing it. But why are big corporates eagerly interested in startups? I believe, it’s because they want to keep up with young founders and their innovative ideas. However, they can also learn a lot from the distinctive way of how startups operate.

What was unique about my internship? Chemovator lives the startup spirit. You will be surprised to learn that it is not just about playing ping pong, table soccer or getting Bionade for free :D

For this reason, I want to share with you four principles of the startup spirit, which inspired me and I learned from most during my internship at Chemovator. And I hope you can also take something with you and integrate it in your daily work or private life.

“Einfach mal machen”

“Just do it” would be a great tagline for Chemovator, if Nike didn’t own it. Trying things and befriending the uncertainty. You have something in mind, then don’t overthink it before it’s too late. Once you just try it, it's easier to find out if it’s worth pursuing it. The faster, the better. Don’t be a dreamer, become a doer.

And if you fail, you can learn from it, which brings me to the next principle….

Make mistakes and learn from it

Even though it doesn’t work out at the first time, try again and again: “Build, measure and learn“.
We persistently search for solutions and optimize our approaches.

Moreover, learn from others.

There is a nice saying in Germany: "You don’t have to reinvent the wheel". Meaning: make use of the available resources, learnings and knowledge.

In Chemovator, we work in an open office. This gives us the opportunity to interact with our entire Chemovator team, but also with all our Venture Teams together (you can easily ask questions and get answers – just scream down the hallway, just kidding). Supporting each other and exchanging experiences are core for progress. We also work with external founders (Entrepreneurs in Residence), who share their knowledge, their experiences and their mistakes with us to continuously improve. External views are priceless. Go out, talk to others (who are not operating in your core business), get new inspirations and opinions. It makes you richer and frees your mind. And you can better work on your project.

So, we’re always learning new things. This is where we come to another principle…

Work lean and be agile

Be flexible and respond to change instead of just following the plan. Regularly reflect your action and adapt to new circumstances. If a project fails, it’s better to cancel it quickly to avoid huge losses. Focus on what is absolutely needed to be done at this moment in time and eliminate anything that doesn’t add any value. But highest priority has customer satisfaction, always. Keep it simple. Our motto is quick and chic.

But it’s not always possible to work lean and fast. One very important requirement for lean and agile working methods is a flat hierarchy.

Flat hierarchies enable fast decision-making and creativity

At Chemovator every employee works proactively and takes ownership of their working area. Due to direct communication, we make decisions fast without a lot of bureaucracy and long process of coordination. Trust is key. Flat hierarchies, familial tone and self-determined actions help to develop your personality and creativity.

A personal statement from my side at the end of my internship:
Unfortunately, my time at Chemovator is over now, but I can totally recommend engaging with Chemovator! Thank you Chemovator team for this great internship and for giving me the chance to actively influence the development of Chemovator. It was so much fun working with all of you! I like your innovative spirit and your great learning culture.

Do you want to learn more about doing an internship at Chemovator or for any of our Venture Teams?

Get in touch with me or comment on our social media postings.

I would love hearing from you!

Hannah's Background

Hannah finished her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business at HS Koblenz. Before, she accomplished an apprenticeship as an Industrial Business Management Assistant. Apart, she did two semesters abroad in Chile and Canada.

Hannah will now start her Master degree in Münster. We wish her all the best for the future.