Saturday, November 18, 2006

Well, things are flying by so fast, that the end will be like crashing into a brick wall!

At work, I have helped my boss plan business trips to the States and to SIBOS, which is an international banking convention. I helped by setting up appointments for him, which meant contacting people known to us as well as cold calls to banks, to convince them to meet with us as one time or another. I have also have been asked questions regarding translations, which always envokes a 5-minute response from me and a question and answer period to ascertain exactly what meaning they are looking for. Other than that, not too much going on at work. I am seeing the results of the structural changes our department is going through and helping to complete some of the new work these changes have made.

Other than that, I am starting to see my friends "for the last time." What I have a very hard time believing is how fast the six months have gone by. Before I know it, I will be back on American soil (the first---planned---touchdown will be in Chicago...and let's all hope that it won't be before that!). I have been keeping busy by taking in movies with friends, going out into the city with other friends, and seeing as much of Frankfurt as I can as well as enjoying my time here.

The Germans are pretty happy that the elections went the way they did. They always seem to be happier when the Democrats are in the majority. I was able to say that Wisconsin is now (as far as Representatives, Senators, and the state governor are concerned) totally "blue," as blue is the normal color for the Democratic party.

That is about it from here. Should you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

Viele Grüße aus Frankfurt

John

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hello! I have been so busy with work and other things that I simply have not had a chance to blog. Work is coming along well. I am starting to have customer contact, which I have had at previous jobs, but the one thing is that here the customer is a representative of another bank. I still have some administrative tasks to perform, but so does everyone else here.
Let’s see…what has happened since I last blogged. I moved in August and then took a vacation (which has been planned since the middle of June). The vacation was in Scotland, which is well worth it, even if the exchange rate right now is not the best. It was two US dollars to one Pound Sterling…which made things quite expensive. After the vacation, I was able to move into the room which will be my home for the next few months. I now live in the Bornheim district of Frankfurt, which is a great section with plenty of activity and all the things I could need right around the corner (literally). Then a few more weeks went by and I am just coming back from visiting my former host families near Hannover in northern Germany.
I still use many of the skills that I learned in college…but it is amazing to realize how much you have to learn outside of the textbook. The soft skills of being able to deal with people have really come in handy here, but knowing a lot about myself has helped too. I know just how far people can go before I have to reign them in and I know how far I can let myself go to. This type of knowledge cannot be learned from a textbook, as each person and each relationship has it’s own boundaries, which can change as time goes on and is usually dependant on the situation at hand.
Other than that, I have had the opportunity to go inside the stock exchange, which is more like a library than the usually chaos that you see in movies. Stocks are now mostly traded online by traders and even though I had expected a little more activity, I found the excursion to be very interesting…sometimes you gotta roll with the punches.
Other than that, I have been on trains…mostly the subway to and from work and have been trying to do more "German" things…the latest going to a professional soccer game in Frankfurt. It was a great game…mostly because Frankfurt won 4-0 against Copenhagen (Denmark). I had a great time watching the game but had an even better time because I was there with friends.
Fall is here with a vengeance. The weather is getting cooler, and although the trees have yet to change color, one can tell that the seasons are changing. The sun is still showing, which is great. I am not looking forward to the late fall and winter seasons in Germany. In mid- to late October the sun goes away and only visits for a few minutes every once in a while until March or April. It is kind of a dreary time in Germany, but there are other things to do than to remain outside all the time…why do you think there are so many museums in Germany??
Well, that is all for right now, remember: if you have any questions, I am just an e-mail away at lyonjt@uwec.edu.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Since I can't quite figure out how to put pictures within the blog, I decided to just have a seperate post with them. The first is a picture of the building I work in. The second is a picture of the stock exchange in Frankfurt, and the third is me with one the statues outside of the stock exchange...can you guess what the other statue may be??


The Commerzbank Tower...aka where I work.


The Frankfurt Börse (stock exchange)


The Bear and Me

Grüße aus Frankfurt!

Things continue to progress rapidly here in Germany. We just had an end to the heatwave (much like the one now in the States, from what I read). It is good to have some cooler weather, especially because Germany has nowhere near the amount of air conditioning that the States does! Imagine, I work in a skyscraper built in the mid-1990s, but there is no air conditioning in it. Granted there is a "cooling system" which has cool water flowing through the ceiling and the skyscraper was designed to be espeically eco-friendly, but it is still something you would not find in the States.

Work has been coming along. I am now performing more challenging tasks. For example, I have been answering the phone and instead of simply forwarding them on, I will try to solve the problem myself (which does not happen too often, as I have zero authority there). I have been making more calls to the States to ask questions, give answers and make inquiries. Although fax machines and phones still do play a vital role in today's global environment, e-mail is rapidly becoming (if it has not already) the method of communication--it is cheap, fast, and polite (you don't disturb the other person and they can get to your request when they have a chance...something I taught my American coworker, which she has since adapted). Other than that, I do quite a bit of research and am putting together summary sheets of the banks that we have a correspondent relationship with, so that I can learn about the banks. I do help my coworkers write e-mails so that they are professional, yet clear. I do have to say way to go to Professors Lentz and Connelly for the great semesters in my BCOM class...they are really helping me out!! But other things are coming in handy such as FIN325 (way to go, Raj!) and MKTG 335 (be sure not to sleep through Rama's lecture on Letters of Credit...especially if you are planning on working in a company outside of the G8). But then again...all of my classes are coming in handy.

Other than that, the social life keeps me active outside of work. I spent time with my German friends and other interns from work this week. I am still planning on heading out tonight to meet up with another intern from Commerzbank to have a night on the town in Frankfurt...let's hope it doesn't rain!

Until next time and as always, simply write or post a comment should you have a question.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Well, things are progressing rapidly in Frankfurt. I work for Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. Commerzbank is the second-largest bank in Germany and was founded in 1870. It branched out to Berlin and Frankfurt am Main shortly before 1900. With over €700 billion in assets, it is second only to Deutsche Bank. I work in a small area within a larger department. My section includes the boss, myself and two coworkers. Our section is in the correspondent banking department is responsible for Canadian, American, and (English-speaking) Carribean banks (can you say business trip in January necessary to the last destination??). The job is coming along well. I am slowly starting to take on more challenging tasks—now that I have an idea of what we do.

The World Cup has ended (Italy won) and things will slowly return to normal. Even the German colleauges agree that it will be quite an adjustment to return to “normal” life. Overall, the World Cup has been a great event for Germany. Not only economically, but also psychologically for the Germans. Through this tournament, the German people were able to uncover some of their national pride, which had remained hidden for a variety of reasons. Although the flag waving probably will not be an everyday occurance, the German people will be more likely to say that they are proud to be German (much like we say we are proud to be Americans). I would say that this is a good thing and that it is long overdue (and no, don’t bring the stereotypes into this picture…as they really don’t describe today’s Germany or its people).

This past weekend, I was able to see everyone on the same program as myself in Cologne. This is the Transatlantic Program (www.transatlanticprogram.org) put on by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest (GACCoM). We had a great time sharing the experiences that we have all thus far had, as each of us are in very different sectors of business and very different companies in Germany.

Well, that is all for now, but as I said before, if you have any questions, please ask!

Monday, June 26, 2006

So, Kinnas, jetzt wird gebloggt!! (So, Kids, a blog post will now be written!)

I suppose I should start by introducing myself. My name is John Lyon, and I did major in Business Administration and German for Business/Professions with an International Business minor at UWEC. I am now in Germany for a six-month internship with Commerzbank AG (http://www.commerzbank.com) Frankfurt, Germany.

I found the internship through the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest (in Chicago). I applied with that organization, which hand-selects 25 students annually to head over to Germany for an internship of 2 months to 6 months. The interesting thing is that two students from UWEC are in Germany for this internship. So the next time someone rags on UWEC, go tell them (nicely) what they can do!

After I was selected by the GACCoM, I was placed in a German company by a German organization. During my interview, I was asked if I would mind being in a smaller company. When I thought of my work experience to date, I responded that a small company would be just fine! Imagine my surprise when I got the news that I would be working for the second-largest German bank in the (currently) tallest building in Europe! I am still getting used to the view from the 29th floor, where my desk it and the view from the 36th floor atrium...where I take my coffee breaks!

Surprising things are happening in Germany. The World Cup is currently happening in Germany, which means that when a game takes place in a city, things really slow down. A few days ago, the Netherlands played in Frankfurt. About 50,000 Dutch people showed up, and the city bled orange (the Dutch national color). So far the USA did not do a good job and is done, but Germany is still going strong...GO GERMANY!

Another fascinating factor of the World Cup is that the stores are open later...which is why I could stop at Aldi's just before 10 tonight and still get in. Most stores are only open until about
8 p.m. during normal times, and the opening and closing times will revert back to normal once the World Cup is over. Somehow I miss 24-hour stores, but nothing is ever wrong, it is merely different. But still...when I get home, I will feel the need to run to the store at 3:30 a.m. for a pack of gum!

Another surprising thing taking place in Germany is a small, but very interesting Wertewandel (changing of values). In a country known for its Ornung muss sein (there must be order) philosophy, I am beginning to realize that life (at least in a large city like Frankfurt) is simply a sum of well-organized chaos. Even so, the Germans are becoming more tolerant of a little chaos and even the (gasp!) concept of lateness---exemplified by the train system, in which the long-distance trains are usually about 5 minutes late. Another example of the chaos could be seen on the streetcar stop last night, where a very stoned man was singing and dancing, while waiving to the passangers on the train. I just stayed low-key and was very grateful when the man did not hop on the train that I boarded.

For those of you on the cutting edge of fashion who believe that all the styles come over from Europe eventually, dig out and brush off those fanny-paks...they're all over here, and what was even more of a shock: men's capris. I am getting more used to those, although I have not and will never(...I know..."famous last words") wear capris, I am now longer dumbfounded by the sight of them.

Well, that's all for now. Next time I will tell you about the work I have been doing (cleaning out old files, putting together Excel spreadsheets, researching and typing reports...Melrose and Lentz would be so proud). For now, I just have to say that I never thought "What If" functions would ever come in helpful after MIS 240, but they really saved me a bunch of time just recently.

If you have any questions or topics that you would like answered or covered in a future blog...or just something you would like to ask (off the blog record), please contact me at lyonjt@uwec.edu

Later!
--John