Lorena Isabell Hartwig Kutscher knows her stuff when it comes to paints and polishes. At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, the trainee for process mechanics and coating technology is honing up her skills in order to give new Mercedes vehicles a brilliant shine and an appealing look. In her interview, she told us why she chose an industrial trade for her apprenticeship, what makes her training time at Mercedes-Benz special and why she sometimes spontaneously helps as a speaker.
Hello Lorena! You started your training in process mechanics and coating technology at Mercedes-Benz in 2018. What do you like about it the most?
The training is unbelievably varied. We learn techniques for grinding, polishing, painting, designing and applying graphic foils, as well as how to operate and service robots in production. I especially like the painting and polishing part because during it I can always keep moving and can also be creative. That was also one reason why I chose the training.
How did you find out about the vocational training?
After graduating from secondary school, I went through different internships. For example, I did an internship in retail, in a kindergarten, a hotel and at various industrial businesses. I quickly noticed that I want to work with my hands. Another reason was that my father is a vintage car fan and I have been helping him paint car bodies since I was a kid. I also went to the "Vocational training live!" Day ("Ausbildung live!“-Tag) at Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen with my two brothers and got some initial impressions of the work here in the workshop. I found that very exciting. That is why I applied.
How were things for you in the beginning?
As with every new beginning, I was excited but also wondered whether I would get along with my coworkers and superiors. Then, when I came into the workshop for the first time, I felt comfortable right away. We were given a very warm welcome by our master craftsmen and vocational trainers and got to know each other in the group. We started the training with ten people and we’re a really great group - almost like a big family. Besides that we have also been given trainee advisors.
What are trainee advisors?
Trainee advisors are trainees from the second apprenticeship year who look after the freshmen and show and explain everything that's important. That helped me a lot in the beginning. Last year, I then became an advisor along with a co-worker. What was especially nice at the beginning was also the development workshop, to which we traveled for a couple of days along with trainees from other vocational groups. During the activities and the group tasks we got to know each other better and have grown much closer as a group.
What does the training involve?
Trainees begin their first year in the trainee workshop. We started out with exercises, like painting smaller metal surfaces. Gradually, our master craftsmen then assigned us to our own projects, such as painting a mudguard or doing a vehicle preparation. The independent work is really motivating. We also work very digitally: From the very beginning, everyone had their own notebook and we communicate a lot over Threema. There are also digital learning formats like Virtual Paint, a digital simulation of the painting process, with which we practice real applications while conserving resources.
And in the second and third year?
We then start with the practical work. Each trainee works on assignments for seven weeks in different areas, for example in cavity preservation, rework or water-based paint systems. During the work assignments, one experienced coworker and one trainee work together. This way, there is always a contact person around. And we learn a lot of theory, as well: After two weeks in the trainee workshop or in the plant we do one week of vocational school.
What makes the training at Mercedes-Benz so unique for you?
The special thing is that we as trainees work in a group – and not alone. We help each other, whether during a project in the workshop or to study before a test in the vocational school. I feel very much at home here. The master craftsmen notice when something is not done quite right. They are always there and have an open ear for us. The activities offered by the Mercedes-Benz Group are also great – for instance, in the area of health. In the company, we are both supported and challenged. It is simply never boring.
Can you give an example of such a challenge?
The other day, a group of visitors came by our workshop and my master foreman asked me to show them around the training workshop and to introduce them to the project we are working on. Of course, at first, I was super nervous to talk spontaneously in front of so many people. But it also motivated me that the master foreman would have so much confidence in me and would give me the opportunity to present myself and our project.
What would you recommend for those who are currently looking for an apprenticeship?
It's very important to find out what kind of training is suitable for you. Of course, internships are a very good opportunity to get insights into the job and orient yourself. In the end, the training should be right for you and be fun. Also, there are many events such as career trade fairs or the "Ausbildung live!" Days at Mercedes-Benz, where young people can speak with the master craftsmen. My tip: Ask as many questions as you can because these conversations are extremely valuable!
And finally, a personal question: In which TV series would you like to act if you had a chance – and in what role?
I really like the US series "Pretty Little Liars", which is about a group of girl friends who are pursued by an unknown person. I would love the role as one of the friends because I think that the way the girls work as a team and always find a solution together is great.
The application phase for our vocational trainings at Mercedes-Benz has started already! Find your dream job and apply today: careers.mercedes-benz.com/pupils/vocational_training
In person: Lorena Isabell Hartwig Kutscher (22) Before Lorena Isabell Hartwig Kutscher began her training as a process mechanic for coating technology at Mercedes-Benz, she received her secondary school certificate. When Lorena is not busy shining up her favorite vehicles like the CLA coupe at the Mercedes-Benz Plant in Sindelfingen, she likes to take relaxing walks with her dog or to play with her cat.