Apprenticeship with a Twist

In March 1916 the first trainees started shaping their skills at the Mannheim workshop. In the meantime, almost 11,000 people have followed in their footsteps and completed apprenticeships at the Mannheim plant. Joanna Karagiannis (18) is one of them. She is training to be a warehousing logistics specialist. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary we met up with her to talk about her apprenticeship:

Joanna currently works in just-in-time goods management. In this department Joanna mainly works with suppliers and colleagues from production. Together they make sure the goods are delivered to the production line on time. We go and find a quiet spot to find out more.


Joanna explains that she was at the vocational training school for the past few weeks. She enjoys the time at school and scores high marks, even though she admits occasionally doing her homework at the last second and procrastinating rather than revising sometimes. However, she is glad to have started another practical phase of her apprenticeship. She voluntarily starts as early as six a.m. because then she has time for other things in the afternoons. Whenever she sees the sun rise on her way to work, she looks forward to working: "I arrive happy every morning because my colleagues create a great working environment." She is particularly impressed by the environment in the department she is currently working in and consequently often tells funny stories from work in her spare time.

However, as Joanna is new to the department, there is a lot for her to learn. She most of all intends to improve her expertise of detailed processes. In the meantime, she has got better at adapting to new professional environments compared with the start of her apprenticeship: "Now, in my second year, I am aware of the procedures and the correlations. That makes it easier." However, she also states that "you can actually improve anything you do."

According to Joanna, you need good people skills during the apprenticeship to become a warehousing logistics specialist and be open for new encounters, as contact with colleagues and suppliers is particularly important. Flexibility is also important because you need to work in many different departments and consequently adapt to new work procedures quickly. Before starting in just-in-time goods management, Joanna worked in warehouse goods management. It is less hectic there because the goods are initially stored in the warehouse rather than being delivered directly to assembly. Even if the stress is currently increasing Joanna says: "I can't complain."

We ask Joanna what she could never do without and there is no hesitation when she responds: "My best friend. We do everything together and have no secrets from each other." At the weekends, the friends enjoy shopping or going out for ice cream, but Joanna's big dream is to travel the world with her best friend. En route she intends to stop on a small island with nice weather and palm trees. She adores the sun and her mood quickly changes towards the negative if the weather is cold and rainy.

If she is not hanging around with her friends, Joanna enjoys inline skating in the forest with her sister. She generally enjoys spending time with her family. Consequently, her role models are not famous people, but family members: "People who were forced to overcome much tougher challenges than myself impress me and then I think that I should be happy with what I have and who I am."

Joanna enjoys reading in her spare time. She particularly likes the "Hunger Games" and "The Fault in our Stars". She mostly reads in English and tells us that she had always been better in school at English than German. If she particularly likes a book, she will also watch the movie. In any other case, she does not enjoy movies or series: "Watching TV is a waste of time, I'd rather read." Joanna laughs and adds: "I'm strange sometimes." And that's exactly how her friends would describe her: Crazy, yet adorable. That is also the impression we get of Joanna. She is a clever young woman who likes to laugh and is very keen to learn.

This is also evident from the fact that she intends to take part in further professional training after having completed her apprenticeship and gathered some professional experience. At present, she would most enjoy further training in business Management.

Towards the end of the conversation Joanna adds that she will soon take part in her second development workshop. In this context, trainees in two professions spend a week together to get to know each other and improve their social skills. She really enjoyed the workshop during her first year and she is already looking forward to this year's event.

Joanna is often labeled the nice, well-behaved young woman from next door. We are glad to have found out that she is also funny, with a great zest for life and, most of all, plenty of motivation. The fact that she enjoys her apprenticeship and demonstrates great commitment is particularly pleasing for us.

Text and photos: Julian Kunschke and Nele Spandick

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