IT at Covestro – no place for women?

On the contrary! My name is Ann-Christine, and I am currently undertaking a dual study program with Covestro Deutschland AG at its Leverkusen site. In this blog, I will explain exactly what this involves and what my everyday life is like.

How did I come to join Covestro?
When I graduated from high school in 2008, I decided to study tourism and event management in Dortmund, as I loved traveling and organizing things. I quickly found out what really lies behind the curtain. While I still enjoyed organizing and planning, I moved away from tourism and started focusing more on business management. After doing a master’s degree in marketing, I got a project management job in an IT company. In hindsight, this was really lucky as it gave me my first experience of software development. For one thing, I discovered that I am better at it than I expected, and for another, I discovered that I enjoyed this work much more than anything I had done before.

Since I had only covered very basic IT skills in my studies to that point, I decided to start again from scratch. Well, maybe not quite from scratch, but certainly a couple of pay-grades below where I could have with my master’s degree. Why did I then choose Covestro? I wanted an employer who would support me in my desire to keep training, and would give me that opportunity, despite the life experience I had already gained. This was what I found with Covestro.

What does the work of a business informatics specialist involve at Covestro?
The WIN program is a combination of training in applications development and a degree in business informatics. The day-to-day work is therefore split between studying for university, attending vocational school and practical work in international teams at Covestro. But what do IT trainees do all day?

The work is diverse and exciting. The training includes placements with a total of six different departments. In my last department, I was jointly responsible for a project for the global replacement of ultrabooks. I was more or less thrown in at the deep end and had to work up the courage to contact people and countries I didn’t know and act as a competent contact person for them. It was a great experience, as it enabled me to see first hand the international interconnectedness of Covestro. In addition, I really enjoyed working with lots of different cultures in several time zones, which enabled me to bring my organizational talents to bear.

What’s next?
The next highlight will certainly be my overseas assignment. We students on the dual study program suggested this idea in a discussion with our CIO (head of IT). She was thrilled at our willingness to look beyond our own backyards and take on new challenges. It is impressive to see how much influence people can have, and that even we trainees will always find an open ear to listen to us.

The decision was quickly made that myself and the other trainees would spend our summer vacation getting to know staff abroad and supporting the local teams there. I will be joining the team in Antwerp for 5 weeks over the summer. I am already very excited by the prospect, and am certain that I will find my place there just as easily as I have with my co-workers at the Chempark Leverkusen site.

When I am not working at Covestro ...
I really enjoy working for Covestro, but even with my studies, traineeship and work, I still have enough time left over to spend with my friends and family and for leisure activities. I keep fit and give something back to the community by training as a lifeguard. I recently achieved the DLRG’s (German Life Saving Association) silver badge. I also use these skills for my second hobby – diving. I am already looking forward to my next vacation, which I will spend mostly in and under the water in Ibiza. Alongside my love of the water, I also enjoy music, especially dancing to it. I do contemporary dance, which is a mixture of hip-hop, jazz and ballet.

I also spend a lot of time at home on my computer – just to keep me from getting bored! However, I am not usually alone for this, as I help my son build and program Lego robots.

At the end of the day…?
I have been made very welcome at Covestro, and a lot of faith was put in me even after a short time. Even though women are still the exception in IT rather than the rule, it doesn’t mean I enjoy the work any less – quite the opposite. I am taken seriously, and welcomed as an enrichment to the team culture.

My advice – be brave and don’t shy away from unfamiliar situations or areas. When you learn something new, it develops both your expertise and your personality!