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      October 27, 2016

      Mother and Automotive DRIVE Graduate Trainee – how do I handle this?

      In my last blog articles I provided some insights into my first two Trainee assignments (in Frankfurt, Germany and Rambouillet, France). This time, I will share with you some news about how I experienced being pregnant during the trainee program and returning to work after giving birth – into a new country.

      So, once I told my managers I was pregnant – you can imagine – they were a little surprised. Generally, this is not what you would expect a newly hired trainee to tell you during the first six months on the job. Nevertheless, they were appreciating this new circumstance and actively looked into the further layout of the program with me. Together with HR we started discussions around moving the assignment abroad into the third stage of the program and other possibilities. But what suited me the best was to continue the program as planned with the only difference that I would be on maternity leave six weeks before and eight weeks after giving birth, as it is legally specified in Germany as a minimum. Throughout the whole planning process I received great support from my direct line manager who was very supportive and appreciative towards my plans. Without that it finally wouldn’t have worked out that well, I think. Many thanks again this way!

      Due to a lucky birth date, I started my second assignment exactly eight weeks after my DRIVE Trainee colleagues. It was supposed to last for only seven instead of the regular eight months. This way I was supposed to be able to spend another seven months on my third assignment. Moreover, I reduced my working hours from 40 to 30 per week, the maximum according to German law to remain in the paternity leave scheme. And there is another very important point to mention: The setup worked out for me/us because my husband took 12 months of paternity leave (which is possible in Germany) to take care of the baby while I would be at work.

      One week before the re-start of work, our whole little family moved to my new assignment location in France, into an apartment paid by Continental. Our settling-in was a little turbulent due to several unforeseeable issues but we were supported by an agency Continental works with for its expatriates and all troubles were solved in the end. Regarding my work plan, I came to an agreement with my local managers that I would go home during lunch time twice a week to be able to continue breastfeeding my baby and at the same time get to know my new team better while sharing lunch. However, after a couple of weeks I recognized that this irregular setup did not work out well for me as a certain rhythm seems to be necessary to successfully breastfeed. We therefore agreed that I would go home every day during lunch time. As I am not living too far away from work I can easily walk the distance – we made a good housing choice! These days, as the baby gets older and starts on solid foods, I already managed once not having to go home at midday break and my colleagues were welcoming me heartily in their round :-).

      My son in his little Continental socks – we experienced a photoshooting “à la française” of course! 

      Right now, our little family is enjoying the summer months, doing family-weekend-trips to various destinations in France and I feel that we really settled well and fully embrace this opportunity Continental is giving to its trainees/expatriates!

       

      This article was written by our employee.

      Kerstin Menk

      Automotive DRIVE Trainee

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