(Max Harst)

I spent the last three weeks of July in Southern California for the internship that is part of the TUM-Kolleg. My “internship” wasn’t one after the definition. I visited a class of the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) of the South Coast. The class I attended was called “Small Business Management”. As the name suggests the class was about leading a business. It was more than only that, though. How to apply for a job and the biggest entrepreneurs of United States’ history were also on the schedule.

I stayed with a family that lived in Ladera Ranch, a small town not far away from the South Californian Pacific Coast, 15 minutes by car from where I had classes. Mother Stacy, a flight attendant stationed in New York, brought triplets to her second marriage with Bob, who works at a tire company. The children were one year older than myself and turned 17 while I was there.

Every weekday I went four hours to the ROP, where Mr. Carlson taught us about Small Business Management. I heard about that class, because my host-brother took it. It sounded for me interesting from the beginning and so I decided to spend my weeks there.First we learned what is important when you apply for a job, of course a cover letter is needed, but unlike in Germany you have to hand in a résumé with it, what replaces the CV. The biggest difference of a good résumé is that a list of personal skills belongs to it. In a role-play we learned how to behave in a job interview.The core of the class was, as the name suggests, about how to build up an own proficient business. Most efforts to build up a successful company fail, so it is of course important to have an innovative idea and planning skills are also something essential. Income and outgoings in a successful business usually reach the even point after five years. That means it is also significant to start with a sufficient budget.We also looked at what different types of business exist and looked at how, the biggest, corporations usually are built up.Our teacher also loves graphics, so we got time to design our own business cards with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. With SketchUp, a 3D modelling computer program we could build our own bakery the most proficient style.The last hour of the class was always time for American history. In that time our teacher presented us documentaries about the most prosperous entrepreneurs of all time in the States. Of course we looked at todays’ big names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The teacher also emphasized John Rockefeller, with his oil company Standard Oil, as the richest man ever. Even the scientists Albert Einstein and George Washington Carver were on the list. The later one was born as a slave and became one of the greatest biologists. To see what extreme opportunities everyone at every position to start with has, made one feel that with some passion oneself can reach the top too.On the last day we made a field trip to the city hall and El Adobe, a local restaurant. At the city hall we got told how to apply for a business specified to San Juan Capistrano. El Adobe is owned by San Juan’s biggest entrepreneur. Besides the restaurant he owns some other houses in the city. He told us how he did his way up, he basically started with nothing to become a very influential man.

Of course there was also a lot of time when I had not to go to class. In that time I mostly was away with Jon my host-brother, who will also come visit me in Germany. The Pacific is not far away from Ladera Ranch, so we spent a lot of time at the beaches. I also was surfing for the first time of my life. On a weekend my homestay family took me to the inland. There it was very hot, temperatures from about 40°C were reached. We first went water rafting. It was fun, because the river had less water than normally caused by the tremendous heat. The next day we went to a huge  amusement park, “Six Flags – Magic Mountain”, with at least ten very big rides and a lot of small ones. On another free day we went to Catalina, a small Island just outside the coast.

I may not have spent my time abroad at an internship as it was wanted at the beginning, but I think I still have made a very helpful experience. It is a possibility that I will found a small company in the future of my career based on the knowledge I got from my ROP course. Class encouraged me as well as I saw, that you do not even need much to start a successful company. I have not only made a great experience, because of the Small Business Management course, also to live for three weeks in the South Coast area was very much fun. The people are kind and the beaches are just beautiful. I can recommend everyone to visit Orange County.