I had the great honor of interviewing Johanna Welz (18) and Viola Benecke (17), the two young women who joined SAP´s Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC), based in the AppHaus in Heidelberg, for one month as interns. Johanna just having graduated and Viola still a continuing student are on their way to find out what their future holds for them. They shared their experience and impression with me what it is like working with a very collaborative team and working in a creative space such as the AppHaus Heidelberg.
In our interview, Johanna and Viola expressed that they genuinely enjoyed their internship at DCC. Johanna said, “It was really interesting for me to witness the DCC team working in real business projects. This was my first long-term internship in a high profiled company. But the time went by so fast because I had a good deal amount of work.”
Johanna and Viola have had much operational support in the AppHaus space such as welcoming workshop participants and ordering supplies. However, their extra initiatives also included building an architectural model of the AppHaus, creating world clocks for the various DCC locations, designing invitations for the upcoming open house day and much more.
They each had different reasons when deciding for an internship. Viola had previously participated for an internship at SAP Walldorf and had the opportunity to visit the AppHaus Heidelberg. She knew upon seeing the Apphaus’ creative space and approach that she wanted to apply for a summer internship there.” Johanna on the other hand, had never seen the AppHaus Heidelberg before but studied Design Thinking at a summer school in the Innovation Center Network in Potsdam. She took the opportunity to get real life business experience before continuing further studies. She states, “I am quite sure that I want to study something with design but before applying for university I want to explore several possibilities. Hence, I decided to complete some internships to get deeper insights.”
Both were amazed by the ongoing teamwork in the AppHaus Heidelberg. They often observed people sitting together in meetings and collaborate. Especially the feedback culture was interesting to witness. Every time they finished a task, they could ask colleagues for feedback and then iterate their ideas. They also liked the open-plan office in the AppHaus Heidelberg where the managers’ desk is right next to the one from the intern.
Before starting her internship, Johanna familiarized herself with User Experience in an Open SAP course, in which Andreas Hauser, Global Head of Design & Co-Innovation Center, explains the proceeding of the DCC. The two of them also witnessed the attraction on customer side to come to the AppHaus Heidelberg for workshops: “Companies can bring their employees to the AppHaus Heidelberg to learn the principles of Design Thinking and apply them in their organization or further collaborate with the DCC team.” In interviews Johanna conducted with former customers of the AppHaus, workshop participants confirmed exactly this impression. “Many said that the AppHaus Heidelberg is the new SAP. Although SAP is the market leader in the software industry, the application of its software often failed in the past because it was simply not user friendly. Now customers can finally see that design and SAP belong together.” She adds, “SAP employees often compliment the good facilities and materials for supporting customers. They love the open spaces and the flexibility of all rooms in the AppHaus Heidelberg.”
In conclusion, both Johanna and Viola were very satisfied with their internship even though they admittedly had to get used to an 8-hour working day. Johanna now more than ever feels certain about her future career path. “I am sure that I want to study communications design. The internship encouraged me even more in my plans. Now I just have to think about where, but not anymore about what.”
The DCC is glad to have shaped the future of its interns and wishes both of them good luck with their endeavors.