Early on, Yanjiao knew exactly how she wanted her future to look. In her hometown of Changchun, she noticed many German and other European industrial companies setting up shop in China. The expats there were part of the city's fabric – and she was fascinated by what their life was like. As she gained more professional experience, her future started looking increasingly diverse. But Yanjiao stayed focused on her goal, and now that she's a trainee at ZEISS she knows exactly how she wants to develop her career at the company. "To achieve my goals, I try to improve a little each day, to learn something new every day," she says, describing her strategy.
And we know these aren't just empty words. After all, Yanjiao has proved time and again that in order to ensure everything goes according to her plan, she's prepared to pursue new, unfamiliar avenues. Even if that sees her moving to other continents.
One look at Yanjiao's hometown and it's clear why she decided to do her traineeship at a German company. While still at school in Changchun, she decided she would go on to study German. And her studies would enable her to turn her plan – which she came up with early on – into a reality. "I was always passionate about intercultural, international settings, like the way I'd experienced in Changchun. Even while I was still at school, I wanted to live and study in Germany for a while," she says.
And after four years of studying German literature, the language and the culture, she moved to the country she'd only read about in books. Once there, she completed her master's in German studies, and is now confident understanding regional dialects across the country, too! So, she came to Germany and put her childhood plan into action. And now it's certainly time to move onto pastures new. Her first job – working in marketing for the city of Freiburg – opened doors for Yanjiao to the world of business and strategy. "I thought: wow, I want to gain a better understanding of how business decisions are made. The strategic aspect appealed to me very much." So she added this new dimension to her plan, and pursued her strategy of learning something new every day by opting to enroll on a second master's degree. This time in Management & Strategy, which would prepare her for her next deep dive.
Ultimately, I want to work in the strategy department, but first I have to get to know ZEISS' markets inside out. The knowledge I'm gaining during the GGP also enables me to develop in the way I'd like
So her decision to apply for the trainee program was the next logical step. "If you want to assume responsibility for projects early on, you need to gain a thorough understanding of a company and its markets and products as quickly as possible. And a trainee program is a fantastic way of doing that." The ZEISS Global Graduate Program (GGP) allows its trainees to rotate between different business areas, countries and markets. This gives them a good general understanding of how things work, as well as in-depth industry knowledge. "Ultimately, I want to work in the strategy department, but first I have to get to know ZEISS' markets inside out. The knowledge I'm gaining during the GGP also enables me to develop in the way I'd like," says Yanjiao, thinking about her clear career plan.
And her planning skills will certainly come in handy in the strategy department. After all, you need a good plan to steer a company through challenging times. "And it's very exciting to be able to develop my plan at a foundation-owned company. Here, we can focus on long-term goals. I enjoy this – and I'm good at it, too," she smiles.
In the future, Yanjiao wants to help decide what direction the company will take. And now it no longer makes a difference whether she does this in China or in Germany. "The main thing is that I'm able to work on exciting projects and use my expertise to help out my team. And, ultimately, help take the company further." That's the next goal on Yanjiao's list. And the Global Graduate Program is the perfect stepping stone to helping her achieve it. She's now creating her networks, benefitting from her colleagues' knowledge and working on current projects. That's how Yanjiao makes sure she learns something new every day. And improves a little every day. It's a strategy that has always paid off.