Derek Fritz

Who are you?

Derek Fritz, Junior, Biomedical Engineering

Who is your employer?

Siemens Healthcare
​Erlangen, Germany

How did you learn about your internship?

I spent my first 2 years at tech taking german courses and then in the summer of 2014 I did the German LBAT study abroad program through tech. During that program, our student group travelled all over germany and when did a lot of company visits as well. We visited the Siemens site in Munich and met with a lady there that we could send our CVs to for those of us that were interested in an internship with Siemens (this was in July). I later sent my CV to this person looking for any internship opportunities in early September when I was back at Tech and one way or another, it found its way to my boss.

What was the application process like?

I sent in my CV in early September 2014 while studying at Tech for the fall semester. After about 2 weeks or so I received a call on my cell phone from the Innovation Think Tank at Siemens Healthcare (the department I now work for) asking some details regarding how long I could stay and if the internship would be mandatory or not, what skills I have, etc. It was kind of like an interview, but not as formal. I later received a questionaire via email to fill out. I submitted that and then a week later received an email requesting a phone interview. We scheduled a time and I spoke with my current boss, Sultan Haider, over the phone for a few minutes (it was a really quick interview) and then he said they might send me some paper work over the next few days. So then about 3 days later or so I received some of the initial paperwork to fill out (lots of paperwork as I had to get a work permit through the german government) and I had to send them a copy of my passport and apply for a visa. It was about early November or so when I finally received my official contract.
​Advice: Apply for a visa as early as possible because it can take a long time to arrive. I applied for my visa in early November once I had my contract and did not receive it until mid February as there was a huge delay with the german government. This delayed my internship start date which was supposed to be January 5th. Also start looking for housing early. Siemens sent me some german housing websites to look at, but I had to setup everything on my own. You do not want to be looking for a place to live 2 weeks before you start working.

What were your major tasks or projects at this internship?

This was not the typical corporate work environment. We were a team of students and whenever a key expert within Siemens had an innovative idea, but did not have the time nor resources to develop it, they brought it to us and we did all of the initial research and rapid prototyping to bring the idea to life. Very fun internship, I've worked on a huge variety of medical systems including MRI, CT, Portable Ultrasound systems, C-arms, X-ray, Electrophysiology Catheters, Hemodynamic Recording systems, Patient tables, PET scanners, etc. Project Topics ranged widely from developing Training simulators (actual programming), User interface design, mechanical improvements, business process improvements, workflow optimization, hospital visits for clinical workflow analysis, market research, use-case analysis, patient comfort, expanding 3D printing applications within Healthcare, etc. I worked within multiple interdisciplinary teams and managed several projects simultaneously. The ITT has teams located in Germany, Turkey, India, and China so I have had a lot of experience trying to coordinate live meetings across multiple time zones as well. We are trying to set up a lab in the U.S. later this year.

Do you have any recommendations for Georgia Tech students looking to intern in the same company or country?

Just apply! You do not have to be fluent in a foreign language to work in a foreign country. As everything is so internationally connected, many places speak English in the work place, just like mine. My boss is from India so he does not even speak German natively (though he is fluent). And being a native english speaker can have a lot of advantages as well. I'm constantly asked to correct the english on all news letters that we write, emails, forms, etc. One of my first project tasks was to correct all the english in a 350 page book that my department wrote on MRI workflow efficiency. So just because you do not speak the native language, does not mean it is impossible for you to land an internship and in some cases it can even be an advantage.

Where did you live? Did you find accomodations independently or with your company's help?

My department sent me a long list of housing websites online to look at. I had to do all of the coordination myself. I found a very small and cheap single room apartment that I lived in for my entire stay. My advice would be to look into this early as for a lot of the websites, you will need to put an ad out there and it can take some time before someone responds to it.

How has this internship influenced your career path?

It has broadened my perspective within my field as I got to work on such a huge variety of systems and project topics. It has definitely convinced me to stay within industry, but I can't say I have chosen a focus point yet.

If paid, did the company you worked for pay you enough to live off of your salary or stipend, or did you have to supplement your income with personal funds?

It was a paid internship, but I was being paid below the minimum wage. It was barely enough to live off of and I had to supplement it with personal funds (though it was no where near as expensive as a semester at Tech). Though considering a lot of internships go unpaid, I think it was definitely worth it and I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do this internship.