Boehringer Ingelheim
13 September 2016
Jacqueline Berlin

By a happy coincidence

Isabelle Krafczyk studied law in Frankfurt/Main and took her first State examination in 2014. She just completed a part of her legal internship at Boehringer Ingelheim in the labour law department as part of her law clerkship. In our career blog she explains, how she came to labour law, why she chose Boehringer Ingelheim, and why companies are much more exciting than law firms.

Isabelle, did you know that you wanted to work in a company and not necessarily in a law firm?


As far as I can recall, I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take when I started studying law, both regarding the profession itself, and which area of law might really inspire me. Statistics show that most law graduates take up the classic practice of law after they graduate. I worked at an automobile financing and leasing company as a student trainee in their law department throughout my time studying law. For me, working in a large company with global operations was a lot of fun, and the legal questions that came up at a company like that were fascinating, too.


It was during this time that I discovered my passion for labour law. Compared to other areas of law, labour law came to me much more quickly and easily. I also found the topics interesting and varied, so much so that I completed my studies with an emphasis on labour law.


After I passed the first State examination and before the start of my law clerkship in May 2015, I completed a number of internships, both in law firms, and a voluntary 8-week training stint in HR management at Evonik Industries AG.


Law firms and corporations are two entirely different professional environments. As far as I could judge through my internships, I simply found the work at a corporation more exciting. It’s not just about finding a solution for one isolated legal issue. Instead, business interests and management policy and philosophy also have to be taken into account with regard to every issue. I find that exciting.


How did you come to Boehringer Ingelheim?


I came to Boehringer Ingelheim through a stroke of luck. On Xing, which is like the German LinkedIn, I came into contact by chance with Boris Wein, who is head of labor law and my current training supervisor. He let me know about the possibility of completing part of my legal training as a law clerk at Boehringer Ingelheim. This motivated me to apply, which resulted in an interview with him and Andrea Umsonst, and then I was accepted for a three-month position with the labour law team. I was and am very happy about this stroke of luck!


What were you looking for in a company? Why a law clerkship with Boehringer Ingelheim?


I had lived near Ingelheim for a year while I was studying law, and I got to know a number of Boehringer Ingelheim employees at that time. That’s how I knew that Boehringer Ingelheim is a company that offers it employees a lot of opportunities to develop, both professionally and personally. Boehringer Ingelheim stands for employee satisfaction – they strive to be “employer of the year.” Because of my internships at other companies, I was also on the lookout for companies that offered law clerk positions in labour law. The combination of both factors led me in the end to complete my clerkship here.


How was your start at Boehringer Ingelheim?


On my first day, I was just glad to be here. I was welcomed by the entire team and provided with all I needed to get to work: laptop, paper, pen and the collective bargaining agreement. All my colleagues made sure that I felt welcome and I received excellent training for the work to come. Throughout my time in training, I always had the feeling that I could raise any question at any time, and I felt there was an openness toward my concerns. And there was time for detailed discussions of the work I had done. From the very first beginning I had the feeling that I was a full-fledged member of the labour law team.


What do you like about the work you’re doing at this point? What makes your work interesting?


Well, all of it is interesting . I’m still “straight out of the university,” and also in the middle of theoretical training as a law clerk, so the real life practice of individual assignments is very exciting. I also find it interesting to see how the work of the individual departments is still so interconnected in so many ways, making cooperation essential. For the labour law team, that means the Human Resources area in particular.


Is there anything in particular that you especially value at Boehringer Ingelheim as a company?


Boehringer Ingelheim is an enterprise with global reach that has a clear company culture with a strong social orientation. I think it’s awesome, for example, that the company participates in social projects. Whether that’s global projects–like “Making More Health”–or helping support refugees locally in Ingelheim. The company values doing good. You have the feeling that Boehringer Ingelheim understands this not so much as something it should do, but more as a matter of course, which impresses me personally very much.


What’s your workday like at the company?


Boehringer Ingelheim puts a premium on respect and collegiality. This creates a good and constructive atmosphere overall. The company also cares a great deal about creating and maintaining good working conditions. This is evident in the everyday work environment in numerous ways: Work/life balance is emphasized, with flexible hours and working from home already firmly established components of various work models. With policies such as these, Boehringer Ingelheim makes it possible, for example, for employees with families to successfully balance their work and family life.


Do you remember a funny situation or a particularly gratifying moment during your internship?


I had a number of gratifying experiences during my time at Boehringer Ingelheim. For instance, I was able to spend two days at the Biberach facility and become acquainted with colleagues in labour law there. I was also given an opportunity to participate in a seminar organized by the employers’ association on time and self-management, which I found really exciting and very valuable.


In addition, there were many times where we had good conversations, within our team or with colleagues in other departments, or as part of get-togethers outside of Boehringer Ingelheim to talk about other topics or just have a good time.


I particularly enjoyed the weekly interns’ lunch. All high school and college interns, law clerks, trainees, etc. met for lunch in the cafeteria. This brought together colleagues from completely different departments and gave us an opportunity to compare notes. It wasn’t unusual to have foreign student interns join us, which meant that conversations at our lunches were often in a number of languages. This meant that we could make new contacts and polish our language skills at the same time.


What would you recommend about an internship or a law clerkship at Boehringer Ingelheim to others?


I would definitely recommend an internship or a position as a law clerk at Boehringer Ingelheim. The company is large and multifaceted, so that you can get a picture of many different careers here, which gives you a good idea about possible entry points for a future career. 


What’s more, you are given many opportunities. I am thinking particularly of both personal and professional development, along with the opportunity to network with people from so many different areas so early in your professional life.


As an intern or law clerk, you are still at the beginning of your career, so it certainly can’t hurt to gain first impressions about working life in such a company and possibly make some good first impressions of your own through the course of your internship. While I was here, I got to know some colleagues who were able to gain a foothold as trainees and have now worked at Boehringer Ingelheim for many years.


What in particular will you take away from your time here?


I am really sad that the three months of my position here are already over. The time seemed to fly by and for me personally, it was much too short. My time at Boehringer reinforced my earlier decision to work at a corporation later in my career. It became clear to me that my future lies in labour law, preferably within a company, maybe even someday at Boehringer Ingelheim again …

"From the very first beginning I had the feeling that I was a full-fledged member of the labour law team, says Isabelle Krafczyk. "
Jacqueline Berlin
Boehringer Ingelheim_Isabelle Krafczyk
Isabelle Krafczyk just completed a part of her attorney training at Boehringer Ingelheim in the employment law department as part of her law clerkship.

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