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  • Arnest Lim

NOC Munich: The First Month In

Feature Article

Writer: Yi Lin


Hi there! I’m Yi Lin, a Year 3 CNM major who’s just embarked on the NOC programme in Munich. It’s been a month since I arrived and as the first CNM student in NOC Munich, here are some of my thoughts and experiences thus far:


Internship Experience

I’m currently interning at Doctor Kimchi, a startup that aims to facilitate healthy eating via smart nutrition and more specifically, microbiome management. Its main focus is —well, you guessed it— kimchi! As a fermented food, kimchi is full of beneficial bacteria for the gut while adding additional flavours to the traditional German food palate.


In the past month, it’s been a constant journey of learning something new every day. As a Marketing and Communications Intern, I’ve had the opportunity to hone my storytelling skills by writing articles and recipes and creating content such as carousels and reels for our socials. 


Creating and editing short videos are things that I’ve been wanting to try out for a while now and it’s been fun experimenting with different formats and transitions! It also really helps that my supervisor (who’s also the CEO) is open to and supportive of new ideas that I share while providing feedback and suggestions for improvement. 


Additionally, I’ve picked up several new skills on the e-commerce side like managing a Shopify website, setting up an Amazon storefront (which comes with SO many hurdles), writing and designing newsletters, taking product shots and learning to optimise for search engines (SEO). We have several exciting events in the next month so I’ll be developing my event planning skills as well! 


Takeaways


1. Don’t close the door on yourself


As a deep-tech hub focused on sectors like software, mobility and FinTech, it was frankly challenging to find suitable opportunities in Munich that aligned with my major and what I wanted to do. When I finally found the opportunity for Doctor Kimchi on LinkedIn, the listing included “German-speaking” as a quality of an ideal candidate. While I was initially quick to strike this position off as unsuitable, I ended up sending in my application in a desperate attempt to maximise my chances of securing an internship — and look where that got me! It’s crazy to think that I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t given things a try, even if the odds didn’t seem to be in my favour. 


In my previous internship in Singapore, a regret I had was not experimenting enough. I had so many ideas in my head but most weren’t executed because of fear — fears that the content I put out wouldn’t perform well, that I would mess things up and disappoint, etc. Hence, in my current internship, I’m making it a point to try everything even if, or rather, especially if it’s out of my comfort zone. It’s definitely a scary and vulnerable position to put yourself in, but there’s also so much fun, excitement and growth that comes with doing so. You might just surprise yourself with what you’re capable of :-)


2. Clear is kind


Communication is key, especially here in Munich! Germans don’t like to beat around the bush and value efficiency in communication. This is something that I took a while to get used to given that we tend to be more cautious with our words in Singapore, but it’s a welcomed change. Due to the small scale of my company, I work directly with the CEO, my supervisor, and one thing I greatly appreciate was the setting of expectations right from the first day. She shared what she expected from my role and in turn, I shared what I’m hoping to learn and do more of in the next 5 months.


Being in a startup also means that plenty of learning is done on the go and much of it is self-guided since the founders often have plenty on their plate. For example, I’ve been learning the inner workings of platforms like Shopify and Amazon Seller Central by searching for information online and via trial and error, together with big topics like SEO that I’ve been reading up on my own. But this also means that it’s important to know when to ask for help and to do so quickly. My supervisor and I have regular check-ins to ensure that we’re both on the same page, and this is where I bring up any concerns or challenges that I might be facing. At other times, we update each other frequently on the status of projects and tasks that we’re working on. Essentially, always keep the communication going and don’t be afraid to have hard conversations!


3. Your experience is what you make of it


Know what you want out of your time in NOC — it affects what you say “yes” to. You don’t have to be incredibly specific or clear, but picture what drives you. What would leave you thinking,  “Damn, that was a fulfilling 6 months/1 year”? Is it gaining greater clarity about your career path? Learning how to build your startup? As someone who tends to be stuck in the ideation stage, one of my biggest goals work-wise is to share my opinions and ideas more confidently and see them through to the end. Additionally, it’s rare to be in such an environment where I get to witness entrepreneurs investing so much time and energy in ideas that they truly believe in. Hence, I hope to keep an open mind and learn as much as possible from the people around me. 


Conclusion


You might be wondering: Okay, so how does this differ from a typical internship back home? Firstly, being in a foreign country without my loved ones has trained my independence and adaptability. Although I’ve only been here for a month, I truly feel like I’m “adulting” now. I registered my address, paid rent for the first time with my paycheck, learnt (and am still learning) to manage my finances, cooked almost all my meals and did all the chores. Secondly, the insane opportunity to do an internship overseas and be part of entrepreneurial hubs exposes one to numerous new perspectives, cultures and experiences that aren’t available back home. 


One thing great about Munich is that in just 1-2 hours, you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and bask in nature. Students are eligible for a EUR 29 card that allows for unlimited travel via public transport throughout Germany.


Batch meetup with our Program Manager, Kelly! My batchmates have been a huge source of support and fun these past months.


Finally, I’ve already created so many lasting memories in the short time I’ve been here thanks to my batchmates. It’s not every day that you get the chance to meet new people and bond over shared experiences of culture shocks, the initial unfamiliarity in a new land, internship highs and lows, and exploring new places. 


Featuring my housemates that I’ve gotten really close to (lovely photo taken by my fellow batchmate Jishnu) :-) 


If you’re keen to be part of the experience, applications for the Jan 2025 intake are open now!


Have any questions or want to be kept in the loop? Join the NOC Europe Telegram group here!


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Note from CNM Types: Thank you Yi Lin for sharing your NOC experience thus far with us and we're sure it will be of a great help to students looking to undertake the programme!

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