11 July 2010

My Internship - Cornerstone for the Stadthalle, Milestone for Me

The past two weeks have been long and full - everyone at my office has been working overtime preparing for our huge cornerstone-laying ceremony on July 2nd. The ceremony itself is only about 1 hr, but we've spread it into an all-day public event, complete with construction site tours and an open house. It is good publicity for the project and ended up attracting lots of people, despite it being 36 degrees Celcius and blazing hot. Working as official photographer for the project group meant I was all over the place, but basically, as I told our Project Manger, I was going to be his shadow, because I figured wherever he was, the important stuff was going to be. And boy, was there alot going on...Here's an overview of my day looked like as far as photos:

Meeting No. 1 - Architects from Max Dudler in Berlin, the Erste Oberbürgermeisterin Frau Hotz (First Mayor; she's in charge of construction projects among other things), and other big shots. Tactic: Hide in the back. Don't talk. Try to blend into the non-existent wallpaper. Photos - Check.

Meeting No. 2 - Tour of Construction Site with formerly stated important people. Tactic: act like you've been on a construction site before, so people don't ask why you don't have a hot and annoying helmet on that obstructs your view with the camera...oh wait. I have been on a construction site before....Photos - Check.

Meeting No. 3 - Opening of our exhibition "Stadthalle und Bürgerpark" in the first floor of our office building. Big speech from the Oberbürgermeisterin and Max Dudler, the architect. Tactic: Smile, avoid talking with the big shots. Just taking good photos here, people, that's all. Photos - Check.

Cornerstone Laying Ceremony - long speech from our Oberbürgermeisterin Frau Bosch, the regional president, and Max Dudler... Tactic for these photos: hold camera prominantly before you, take lots of photos really fast, and pretend as if you know what you're doing. You'll fool 70% of the people into thinking you're actual press (the other 30% being 90% of the press people themselves) - Oh, and another tip: Being small is a *huge* advantage as far as squeezing in between actual professionals to get the best shots. Photos - Check.

Construction Site Tours and Austellung (Exhibit) - lots of people. A few important ones. Hot and dusty construction site. Mildly less hot but shaded indoor exhibit rooms. Tactic: AMPAP (as many photos as possible). Follow the important people so you can get good shots of them. They usually don't mind being in the spotlight. Follow the normal people, but discretely - unlike the big shots, they get nervous and scare off easily when they see you taking a photo of them. Construction site tours - if the lady wants you to delete that supposedly unattractive picture of her with a safety helmet on, do it. Just don't delete the other photos along with it (like I did the day before - oops. Good news - they were recovered) Photos - Check.

Short summary: I took over 500 photos in less than 5 hours, was broiling in a black T-shirt, and had hardly a break to sit, so I was tired, hot, thirsty, and my neck and head ached at the end of the day, but it was well worth it. Even though I am only an intern with the project group, I felt incredibly proud to be here at this huge milestone in the project - which by the way, is not only on-time as far as the construction timeframe, but also within budget. For a project that was started during the financial crisis and orginally met with only about 60% approval in Reutlingen - that means alot.

For me, the day was also significant, but in a different way - for the first time, our Project Manager introduced me as a Mitarbeiterin (coworker) - not a Praktikantin (intern), and said they would miss alot when I left. For one thing, most Germans don't give compliments frequently and certainly not our PM. For another thing, Germans usually distinguish professional position descriptions more strictly - a Mitarbeiter/in is used to describe a full-time paid worker at company, and a Praktikantin...well, that's just an intern, and NOT a Mitarbeiterin for sure. So hearing him call me a Mitarbeiterin sent the signal that he considered me to be a full contributing member of team, who produced amount and quality of work that a full-time worker would, not just a Pratikant level. Probably the most subtly-delivered, but yet consciously-stated complement I have received the entire 6 months. It was well worth the wait.

So there's lots of photos, but I've cut it down quite a bit from what I had (think of the 500 plus - your response: *sigh of relief*) I have tried to put in enough description so you know what you're looking at, too. :-D Hope you enjoy! It's the masterpiece from my long day's work.


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