Trainee's background: What is your name, your field, and how long was your training period in your home country?
I'm Andreas Schwengeler and I work as a travel agent in the mainstation of Zuerich for the federal railways. 10 years ago I got a 3 year training for my job. During this time I worked 3 days a week and 2 day a week I had business school.
Your position in the USA: your title, host company's hierarchical structure, responsibilities of your immediate supervisor.
I work as a customer service agent at the check-in desk, baggage service office and the bagwell. The supervisor is responsible for the check-in procedure and the station manager is responsible for the catering and maintenance of the aircraft.
History: growth and development of the host company.
10 years ago Lufthansa started with one flight form Germany to
San Francisco. The little ground staff crew grew up to 37 employees today. Moreover, there are now two full flights every day to Germany.
Geographic area of activity: corporate headquarters, branches, etc.
The German Airline has branches all over the world. You'll find almost in every big city of the USA a Lufthansa office. The main office in the USA is located in New York, however the Headquarter is in Germany in Cologne.
Host company activity (manufacturing, retail sales, etc.) and description of the main steps of the process.
The main goal for Lufthansa in San Francisco is to bring all passengers on time from SFO to Munich or Frankfurt. Thanks to a fast check-in and an efficient coordination at the gate we succeed almost every day.
Number of workers: full-time and part-time (approximate)
There are 24 full-time workers and 13 part-time workers.
Business clientele: customers, companies, nations.
40% are German, 40 % American, 10% Indian and 1 % Swiss
60 % are on Holiday and 40 % Business
Describe a typical day for you at the host company
We start working at 10:45 a.m. in order to get the first flight at 1:40 p.m. out on time. Until 45 minutes befor departure the passenger can check-in. At the check-in desk we have to check the passports, visas, tickets and baggage. Later at the gate we make sure everybody has the right boarding card and is on board. After this flight we have 30 minutes lunch. The procedure for the 2nd flight is exactly the same. As soon as the 2nd flight to Frankfurt left, we have a debriefing to discuss the problems, questions or irregularity on this day.
Equipment: Name the equipment that you use (example: computer software, engineering tools, etc.) and give a brief description.
We use a specific airline software to check-in the passengers. Thanks to this program we are able to supervise the progress of the check-in procedure. It gives you the information how many passenger in which class have check-in already.
Behavior and appearance: Describe what behavior and appearance is expected of employees.
The passenger has to be the most important in everything we are doing. Therefore, we have to appear clean and correct.
Methods: Describe the methods by which you have been trained (examples: verbal information, written information, lead employee, etc.). Compare the training methods in your home country with the way this American company would train a permanent employee. You may need to ask your trainer for help with this information.
We were lucky to start with 4 other employees. So we got a one-week training, which gave us a lot of background information, examples and checklists. However, I'm surprised, that the other people which started after us, didn't get a training.
American elements: What new information or skills have you learned? What elements are typically American, which you could not have learned in you home country?
I've learned a lot about Airline business, but in general the work skill is very similar to the skill in Switzerland.
Management style (interaction between co-workers or between employees and management): How does American management differ from that in your home country?
Like at home the management/supervisor is very closed to the employees. If there is a problem you always get help or advise.
"Special components" required by the USIA: Have you visited other departments, branches or competitors' companies? Have you attended department meetings or special seminars? Have you made educational visits in the community? Describe them.
I took some DHTML classes at Skyline College. This was really a great experience: There were around 20 students. We had to solve a problem in a group, so I had a lot of possibilities to talk about their and my life.
Satisfaction and evaluation of traineeship: Would you recommend this traineeship to another IEP participant? Why or why not?
Yes, you see how the people work in a different way and you get an idea of the completely different value of life.
Housing: Describe your hosts or independent living situation (who lives at the home, their professions, interests) and your relationship or activities together.
My family is just great! Edgar and Elvy have had several students and you feel that they love to exchange thoughts, ideas and life value with other people. Edmond (10 years) is so funny and I have always a good time with him.
Home: Describe the house or apartment where you live. How is it different from a typical house or apartment in your home country?
I live in a typical American house. The construction is basically of wood. With the fog in Pacifica we always have a high humidity in the house.
Cost of living: How does the cost of living in America compare with your home country? (food, restaurant meals, house rental/purchase, clothing, entertainment, transportation). Please give some example costs you have encountered.
It's amazing that the prizes are quite the same as in Switzerland, but the salaries are so much lower in the middle class.
Transportation to work. Describe.
With my Fred (that's the name of my car) I stop at Starbucks for a coffee. Then I take the Highway 280 - 380 -101 to the employee garage of the Airport. A shuttle bus brings me to the terminal. The whole trip takes me about 50 minutes.
In what ways is the "American way of life" different from your own country?
The car has an incredibly high value, which I understand in a way, because of the large distances. I was amazed about the variety of food you get here, however it seems to me that the quantity is more important than the quality.
How can one get acquainted with Americans?
Everybody says hello and makes small talk, but to get in a friendship isn't easy.
"Educational components" required by USIA: Have you enrolled in a class? Have you written a technical, bilingual vocabulary list of expressions learned during this traineeship? Have you begun your final Analysis Report?
I took a DHTML class and I started the final report.
"Mutual benefits": How did you share your skills and culture with your American hosts?
We talk everyday at least for one hour and we went out together for several times.
Has the program been valuable for you personally, professionally, culturally? Would you recommend it to another trainee? Please explain.
No question, the program is valuable in every field. Personal: I found new friends and I had to manage the new environment. Professional: I had to get used to new working skills. Cultural: No questions in San Francisco with all this theaters, movies, concerts, BBQ's and other events.
What advice would you give to future trainees during their preparatory phase?