Automation? What does it mean and why are so many people afraid of it? Automation has been the only topic on my mind during the last few weeks and here’s the reason why: I took part in the Federation of Carinthian Industries #INLehre apprentice competition and the preparation for it had a lot to do with automation.
Almost every type of apprenticeship has a competition. You’ve most likely heard of hairdressing apprentices looking for hair models for a competition. I, of course, did not need hair models because the INLehre apprentice competition allowed you to compete in the subjects of German, English or mathematics. I chose the discipline of German and had to prepare a presentation. And what was the topic? Automation, of course. Since I am serving an apprenticeship in an IT company, I have been dealing with this topic on a daily basis.
A rhetoric seminar organized by the Federation of Industries (IV) was held to prepare for the competition. Rhetoric – the art of speech – was already an important topic dating back to antiquity. Marcus Tullius Cicero was a very persuasive speaker who wrote a text book about his experiences as a speaker and politician. If he had not been such a convincing speaker he would never have become the lawyer of Rome. I also think that the way you present something is very important, which is why I enjoyed the rhetoric seminar very much. I not only learned how to make a proper presentation, but I also learned how to handle stage fright and how to control my voice. For example, we had to put an apple in our mouth and read Goethe’s “Erlkönig” poem, which helped to relax the muscles. And of course we all took advantage of the opportunity at the seminar to pelt the IV employees with our questions about the competition.
Although I had practiced my text very thoroughly the day before, I was still quite nervous at the beginning. Who likes making a presentation in front of so many people? Even though I’m used to standing in front of large crowds as a singer, for example at weddings, in the competition I was much more agitated. It was as if I had to sing in front of a very large audience. My teeth chattered and my hands trembled, but the anxiousness disappeared when I met the apprentices from the rhetoric seminar again. It was really fun to talk with other trainees – about the training as well as about the competition.
At eight o’clock in the morning I was ready in the lecture hall with my cell phone and a pinwheel. The competition started with a greeting that the participants listened to with attention. I, too, was wondering how the day would go and I wanted to get the presentation behind me as soon as possible. Unfortunately, my last name comes closer to the end of the alphabet and so I had to wait. Shortly before ten o’clock my name was finally called and I went out.
Why did I really need my phone and the pinwheel? I started my talk with a question for Siri, and since I find it much nicer when the audience focuses on the individual rather than on the power point presentation during a presentation, I used a pinwheel instead to make a particular point more vivid. I have to say that once I was standing in front of the audience I was not nervous anymore. This was mainly because I had gone through the presentation with my instructor Lucia beforehand but also thanks to the rhetoric seminar. Needless to say I was nevertheless very relieved after my presentation was over. I got a lot of praise and was even allowed to conduct an interview with the Austrian television channel ORF.
Then it was time to wait until everyone had given their presentation and at noon the team competition got underway. The task was to build a vehicle out of Lego blocks that would go as far as possible and was as cost-effective as possible: each Lego block had a fictitious price. Who would have believed it? A two-wheeled vehicle won. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution.
In summary, I can say that I really enjoyed the day and I also learned a lot. After all, when do you get a chance to hold an interview with the ORF and get to know other apprentices? And besides, I had no stage fright at all. It’s not always about being the best, because in the end, the experience you gain is what counts. I am very happy that I was allowed to participate in the INLehre competition and was able to count on the support of my company. You’ll likely be hearing from me again next year. Until then: Merry Christmas!