How people and companies in Jena live interculturality
Every year, the i-work Business Award recognises companies in Jena that are exemplary in promoting intercultural openness in the business environment. The many practical examples from the i-work competition present the companies where integration succeeds in everyday working life and show how people at the workplace and beyond are committed to the cooperation of cultures. Would you like to learn more about how arriving in Jena and in your new job can be a success? Our blog series presents many interesting examples.
Meet Shahoud Al-Abdulrahman and Serena Watkin
“My name is Shahoud Al-Abdulrahman, I come from Syria and I work as a project engineer in the “Control Systems and Production IT” department at SCHOTT AG in Jena. My favourite things about my job are the working atmosphere, training courses, gaining experience and having fun 🙂 My job is not a routine job, you always have new tasks to deal with.
I’ve never seen a furnace in my home country, which is one of the biggest differences in my day-to-day work. My company has supported me particularly well with flexible working hours and by making me a member of a team of experts.”
Dear Serena, where are you from and what brought you to Jena?
I’m originally from New Zealand but I was working for SCHOTT MINIFAB in Melbourne, Australia, for 3 years before I transferred to a position in Jena. I first came to Germany for a conference in 2018 and had been hoping for an opportunity to return. Then, just before I was hired by MINIFAB in Australia, the company was acquired by Schott AG, which opened up that opportunity for me a few years later.
What do you like best about your work and your company?
I like that quality is regarded so highly here (and that seems to be a part of German culture more generally) and that we are always looking for ways to improve and so my role is to lead efforts to improve our quality control processes. I also like the way the company celebrates successes, whether it be a significant number of product batches produced or a birthday or anniversary.
What challenges did you face when arriving in Jena and/or started with your company? How were you able to overcome these challenges?
Trying to get an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde, and all the other bureaucracy involved in becoming a resident of Germany! The first step was registering an address at the Bürgeramt so that all the other processes (opening a bank account, getting a tax ID, social security number etc.) could happen. Fortunately, a colleague from HR made an appointment for me to do the process in English as the language has been another challenge for me.
What has your company been particularly good at supporting you with?
Since I was so keen to move to Germany as quickly as possible and I was allowed to enter Germany without a visa and apply for a residence permit once I arrived (by virtue of my nationality), I thought that was best way, but I’m glad that an expert at Schott recommended for me to apply for a visa beforehand so that I could start working right away, because they knew that the waiting times to get an appointment for at the Ausländerbehörde were very long, and supported me through that process.
What are the biggest differences in everyday life and work between your home and Jena? What tips would you give people who want to settle in Jena?
Since I come from the southern hemisphere, having summer holidays in the middle of the year and snow around Christmas time feels quite strange to me (although it is how I’ve seen it in movies, so sometimes I feel like I’m living in one!).
At work, the typical formalities in business (e.g. using last names and titles) is also something I’m not used to. For people coming to Jena (or Germany in general), a little tip is to remember to do your grocery shopping on Saturday because the supermarkets are closed on Sunday! Also, apparently it is bad luck to walk under the Johannistor medieval gate. The language is another big difference so I would suggest learning German to make your life easier, even though I haven’t done too well myself with that, yet!
What is typically German / typically Jena for you?
I think Christmas is something Germans do very well and I loved visiting the Christmas market in Jena for the first time last year (complete with snow!). The hills around Jena are really nice to go hiking, like we did as a team. In the future I would like to attempt the 100 km Horizontale – Rund um Jena!
SCHOTT AG: About us
Around the world, in 33 countries, some 17,200 employees are committed to SCHOTT. With high-tech materials, e.g. speciality glass, and innovative ideas, we are shaping the world of tomorrow with people who value personal responsibility and creative freedom. Founded in 1894, we can look back on a long company history. Our promise: To become climate-neutral by 2030. Our founders, Otto Schott and Ernst Abbe, made responsibility part of our corporate culture. Our strategy is based on responsible corporate governance. Responsibility for our employees and their families, for our society and science, and for our environment.To the SCHOTT website
We will advise you individually on arriving and settling in Jena, show you where to start on your career path and find further contacts for you together with our cooperation partners. We look forward to hearing from you!