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May 12, 2020

Gap Year and beyond

Time flies! More than four years ago I applied for the Roland Berger Gap Year program. Today, after the Gap Year, attaining my master's degree, and after my first seven months working full time, I am sure that the application was one of the best decisions I have made.

In hindsight, I believe the diversity of people, projects, tasks, and cultures is what makes the Roland Berger Gap Year program unique. My individual 9-months program in a nutshell:

Part 1: Two Roland Berger projects in the construction industry in France, Germany and the Netherlands

Part 2: A business development internship at N26 in Berlin

Part 3: Two more international Roland Berger projects where I was based in Chicago, Illinois automotive industry

To give you a glimpse of how a first day of your consulting internship at Roland Berger may look like: on my first morning, I was stuck in the traffic jam in Paris for more than 2,5 hours together with the partner of our project to meet the new French/German team and kick off the project. My highlight of the first part of my program was the moment our team realized that we can ultimately save our client from being bankrupt. As a personal key take away, I believe it is often underestimated how much you can learn from firms in crisis. The picture below was taken in Amsterdam where I spent the last project week of the first part of my Gap Year.

During the startup part of my gap year, I supported the business development team of N26. My tasks included responsibility for the initial development concept of the N26 Metal Card. My inclusion was one of the best aspects of my time at N26.

Taking one step back, one could wonder why particularly a startup part is included in the Roland Berger Gap Year. In my opinion, the answer can be found in our firm's culture: Entrepreneurship and a strong hands-on mentality are deeply rooted in the Roland Berger DNA.

If I had to decide which of the three parts of the Gap Year Program I liked the most, I would probably go with the third part. I really enjoyed the challenging project times with our fantastic team and, of course, the city of Chicago. In one automotive project in the Detroit area, I was responsible for the preparation of a roadmap and model to significantly reduce the investment spend of a large business unit in close interaction with the respective plant managers of >20 plants worldwide.

A key insight, wherever your Roland Berger Gap Year takes you, take advantage of your free time. Regarding the site, give each city or new location, a go! I can highly recommend Chicago. It is a fantastic city to live and work. I loved doing bike tours across the city and along the Lake Michigan. (For American food lovers, I suggest burgers at Au Cheval or barbecue at Green Street Smoked Meats). Moreover, the third part of the Gap Year program typically offers great opportunities to travel. Together with another Gap Year participant and good friend who was based in Boston at that time, we did several weekend trips to explore the US.

Coming back to Roland Berger after my master's degree was like a family homecoming. On the one side, you already know most company-internal processes and your daily work routine. On the other side, my first day back at Roland Berger reminded me of what I missed the most: meeting new and old Roland Berger friends and colleagues every day.

Last October, I joined the performance improvement team and started my first project in the new role: in a small team, we supported the budgeting process of a leading and fast-growing international startup. Currently, in a completely different setting and a new team, we help a large German hospital to stay ahead of the curve in times of Covid-19.

Overall, I was ecstatic for my experiences gained from my Gap Year program and thankful for the tremendous support I received throughout the program.

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