My first internship was at Gaudio-Braille who are situated in Marburg. At this time – in the 10th grade – we had to choose a company for our internship which was situated in Marburg and the surroundings to stay nearby our school.
This time, however, we were allowed to do our internship wherever we wanted. Therefore, to get a little more independent outside of Marburg (known territory), I started looking for something in Stade or Hamburg.
It was more difficult than I thought. I called a couple of companies, but unfortunately either the time didn’t suit them, they didn’t know where they could include me due to my visual handicap, or they were pleased to welcome me as an intern, but on the complete opposite side of Germany.
At last, I called the BSVH, who were able to recommend me DIAS GmbH, a company who is testing the accessibility of products. And I was lucky indeed! They invited me for a talk, and granted me to stay as an intern.
Awesome, but how to get there? I arranged cane lessons in Hamburg for the summer holidays. I met my cane teacher in Hamburg central station, on the platform where I usually arrive by local train. With her instructions, I made it downstairs to the next platform and boarded the train to get to Hamburg Sternschanze; that’s where DIAS is nearby.
From Sternschanze, it was a five-minute walk till the office complex where DIAS was situated. It took me a while to get used to everything, such as the crossing points or the chairs and tables of pubs and restaurants; but in the end, we only needed three days to get me familiar with the most important ways and places!
On September 19th, 2016 which was my first day of the internship, I met my cane teacher again to make certain that I could make my way to work without any problems.
At work, our project leader introduced me to the rest of the team and to Incobs, the project to work on for the next four upcoming weeks. Here, products are tested that don’t need any special accessories for example computers, smartphones and other electronic gadgets which already come with a built-in solution for handicapped people or other ways to make it work (out of the box, more or less). Of course, apps and software are also included.
For lunch, we usually went out to find a common restaurant, or splitted up to get food at different places to meet at a certain spot afterwards to have lunch together anyway. My special thanks to my colleagues who were showing me different places in the surroundings!
Back in the office, we got together after a while for a talk about this and that and a coffee break with coffee, tea or cold drinks, and cookies or cakes that I and/or other colleagues brought to share with the team. For me, it was a very positive way to get more familiar with the team and have a chat with them about other topics than work.
At 15:30, I left the office to go home. On the first day, our project leader was accompanying me to the train station to see if everything is all right and, coincidentally, I met another person on the train whom I knew from friends of ours from Stade, so we had a common way back home. That was a plus for me, because I didn’t have to change trains on my own this time.
The day after, I had a last meet-up with my cane teacher to confirm my capability of getting to work safe and sound; in other words, the final cane lesson. My work-day started at 09:30, so we met a little earlier again to get through it without stress; and after I confirmed that everything should be all right now, the cane lessons were officially over.
During the time of my internship, I could work at a computer with pre-installed screenreaders and a braille display, because our colleague who would usually work with this computer was only in the office on Tuesdays; but when he was in the office, I worked at another computer with my own 40-cells braille display and a portable version of NVDA on a memory stick.
Nice so far, but what was my objective there? Well, I was allowed to look for an app cattegory that would suit me the most. I chose traveling, because, as you probably already guessed, it’s one of my favorite things I like to do in my free-time to visit friends here and there.
I actually wanted to test Skyscanner (an app where you can get cheap flights), but the developers of Skyscanner decided to make the app inaccessible at this time. So, I found Expedia and Trip Advisor instead.
Sadly, I got sick during my internship for a longer time, so in the end, I decided to stick with Expedia only, instead of testing both apps to write a comparison article at the end of my internship.
Due to the fact that I have an iPhone, I was able to continue testing at home, so I could concentrate on writing the report when I was finally fit enough again to get back in our office.
As for the time when I worked at the office, traveling to Hamburg and backwards became a piece of cake. Sure, I occasionally got lost due to the reason that I missed a turn or because there were other people involved who wanted to help but took me off the right way instead; In the end, however, I always found people who helped me getting back on course.
But at some point, there was a huge construction during the last few days of my internship. Therefore, I would have had to change multiple times and most likely rely on busses bringing the stranded passengers from one spot to the other. This would have been extremely stressful, so we decided to book a flet in Hamburg. My mother and my sister joined me and, whereas I was at work, they used the opportunity to go shopping and enjoying a short vacation in the city of Hamburg.
Also, it only took me half an hour instead of three times as long to get to work, so I could even sleep a little longer.
At the end of my internship, I presented them an article about my experiences with the Expedia app, and we spent the time with correcting the article. Our project leader also included some additional notes out of the perspective of a sighted person.
It was quite sad that 4 weeks were over that quickly, and especially that I wasn’t able to work at the office for the entire internship period due to the fact that I got ill.
On the other hand, I can conclude that my internship was a success and that I got a little more independent outside of Marburg in a very short manner of time already! When I was sceptic about that before, well, not anymore! Again, if one of you at DIAS or other people who supported me during this time happen to stumble upon this: Thank you so much for the awesome time we had, you guys are totally awesome and I hope to see you again soon!