Insights from Daniel: I believe that everyone has a particular different story to tell of their first day at work in Allianz. And when you come from a foreign country the doubts and fears will be exacerbated.
It was July the 1st, 2015 and I am standing in front of a modern looking glass office in Munich. I begin to wonder what I was thinking moving to a place where I know nobody, I don’t know about the working culture, I don’t speak a word German and I really have no clue what is awaiting me.
Rewind a couple of weeks earlier, and I was in the dry summer of Madrid celebrating with joy as the lady I had been in contact with the past months called me to offer me the gap year program in Allianz. Although I had been travelling a lot for the past years all over Europe and Asia, I have never worked outside of Spain. This was my golden opportunity to get some international experience that everyone appreciated so much. So without further deliberation, I packed my luggage and I was saying “Hasta la próxima” to Madrid, the city in which I had spent the last two years of my life.
Fast forward to July, and I was looking up to the big Allianz logo above the reception office. I felt somewhat nervous as I waited in the reception area to meet the lady that had followed every step of my application, Evelyn. Luckily, I was not alone during the waiting, my friend Marko with whom I had spent my university years had landed the same program and another friendly intern called Attila was going to be in my same department unit. We were quite an international group, Marko is a Serbian national that had lived all his life in Uganda.
Attila was Hungarian born that studied in Denmark and then there was me, a guy that was born in a small northern coastal city of Spain but had his origins in China. After a couple of minutes Evelyn appeared, a tall dark haired lady with a British accent. She was very kind to take us to the meeting area where all the new entrants of Allianz were going to meet for a presentation and overview of the company.
The presentation took all morning. We were introduced to the different business branches of Allianz, the company culture, and the basics of security and privacy. One of my personal highlights of the morning was the networking break, where we were given an opportunity to meet the other new entrants. We all came from very different backgrounds and we were assigned to different departments, but there was a common ground, we were all excited about this new stage of our lives.
Right after the presentation, with the punctuality that German people are known for, Evelyn showed up to take the interns that were going to be part of Allianz to their respective workplaces. We casually walked through the different buildings, in which Allianz had offices. They were all interconnected, all these passages, doors and tunnels seem like a maze to those not familiar with the intricate communication system of the buildings. After a few minutes of walking, we arrived into a very spacious office area, there were no individual offices, people sat next to each other, there were some armchairs, flowers and fruit trays here and there and more importantly sun brightly shined into the office through its wide glass windows.
A couple of months ago if you asked me how I would picture a 125 year old insurance company office, I could tell you that “Open Office” design would not be on the top of my list. This concept of “Open Office” that I heard so much about, was more of start-up or internet company layout of office.
Seeing this kind of laidback collaborative office in Allianz struck me and changed my perception of the company. This kind of layout had a different vibe from the traditional cubicle design, there was that buzz in the air that you often perceive in start-up companies, that energy that drives people. Maybe things are going to be different here…
Written by Daniel Dong Ye