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Mandi Simelane-Schaal

Mandi Simelane-Schaal 2300 x 1000 © Bernhard Ludewig

“It’s exciting to be part of a multi-facet apprenticeship that prepares you to work in any office environment:”

Office manager at INP Deutschland GmbH

1. Why did you decide to do this apprenticeship in Germany?

I decided to do the apprenticeship after I moving to Germany. Through the assistance of the labour office in Germany, I was advised to apply for an apprenticeship in office management. I found the apprenticeship to be ideal for me, as I could continue improving my German and at the same qualify in a field that is a vital part of a successful organization.

2. How did you prepare yourself and how did the application process go?

The labour office supported me immensely with the preparation process. They guided me on the different apprenticeship offers and helped me rewrite my CV and motivation letter. I prepared myself by completing internships at different companies to show that I was interested in this field. Luckily for me, I had taken German classes in South Africa at the Goethe-Institut, therefore it was easy for me to show my proficiency in the language.
At the company where I’m based now, INP Deutschland GmbH, I participated in an interview process and completed a short internship before they then decided to offer me an apprenticeship.

3. What personal and professional requirements do you think are important for this occupation?

You must be a person who enjoys administrative tasks, as these are the backbone of any successful project. Excellent communicating and interpersonal skills, especially in an intercultural environment are key. Lastly, it is advisable to be someone who pays attention to detail and is flexible. Even though it is not a requirement, it does help to have prior work experience in an office environment.

4. What do you learn in vocational school and what do you learn at the company?

In the vocational school, two major areas are covered: office processes and business processes. I am currently learning how data is saved and maintained, how to process emails correctly, and the various aspects of digital safety. On the business processes side, I am learning about how orders and invoices are created and processed.
In cases where I still require assistance, INP Deutschland GmbH, also provides me with additional classes to ensure that I understand the content we are learning.
At the company, I had a chance to be part of the front of desk team, where I learnt organizational and communication skills. In the accounting department I have learnt the company’s filing system, how taxes are calculated and various accounting processes.

5. What advice do you have for South Africans who are interested in an apprenticeship?

Do not be afraid to send the application. If you get a chance to learn German, do it. When you arrive in Germany, trust the process, and remember that you are here to learn. There will be guidance and support from your vocational school and organization, therefore, feel free to ask if you are uncertain about something.

6. What tasks are you responsible for today?

My day-to-day tasks are never the same. Currently, I am responsible for invoice and travel expenses booking as well as assisting in various accounting processes. I purchase office supplies, set up and coordinate meeting rooms and organize outgoing mail.

7. Which tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoy my tasks in the accounting department because we deal with processes. Furthermore, I also enjoyed front desk duties as these involve a lot of human interaction. I hope to later work at the sales and marketing department, as I am someone who enjoys working creatively and am curious about the sales side of the business.

8. And after the apprenticeship? What are your career goals?

I would like to use my qualification to be able to study at university. The fact that I will already have gained valuable work experience means that I have the opportunity to work in various sectors too.

This interview was conducted by Sinenhlanhla Buthelezi. We are lucky to have Buthelezi in the media development department of the Deutsche Welle Academy.