Mentor Conference – coming together in apple country


Starting an apprenticeship or a dual study course is exciting because you don’t know what to expect, or what is expected of you. When we started at HELM AG the company welcomed us warmly and assigned a dedicated Mentor to each apprentice.

But what’s the purpose of a Mentor, exactly? Well, the Mentor Conference, which took place at a fruit farm in the apple-growing ‘Altes Land’ region just south of Hamburg, was intended to answer precisely this question. In the picturesque village of Jork, apprentices from all annual intakes met up with “their” Mentors, all HELM employees. We struck up conversations quickly and got to know each other better. Along with a tasty breakfast a wide array of apple juices was served.

At the outset we formed different groups based on such factors as age, how long it takes us to get to work, and length of tenure at HELM. After that, a kind of ‘speed-dating’ with various colleagues ensued, during which topics such as hobbies, holiday destinations and personal characteristics were discussed, providing a unique way to get to know each other. It didn`t take long for the atmosphere to ease noticeably as the initial tension subsided, and it became easier to start conversations.

Afterwards, the Mentors withdrew and compiled a list of tasks that their roles entail. We did the same and came up with a list of expectations and requirements for our Mentors. Before lunch all of the groups presented their results; these were discussed in smaller groups and in conclusion a short summary was presented.

We can reach out to our Mentors if we need help or advice and they welcome any kind of questions, advice, criticism or a quick chat. They lend us apprentices an open ear and an open door in an environment which is new and unfamiliar to us.

We were subsequently divided into groups to create short presentations which were geared towards incorporating various topics such as sustainability, collaboration and diversity in an entertaining way. During one of the breaks we took a tour of the orchard and had an apple-tasting session, before the results were presented to all participants.

The presentations varied greatly, were well received, and all groups were able to give their creativity free rein. In addition to short stories, collages, poems and a theatre play, one of the groups composed a song based on the smash hit ‘Atemlos’ by German superstar Helene Fischer. The evening came to a close with a barbecue at which all participants chatted and swapped stories over a drink.

We had a very enjoyable and exciting day. We got to know each other better, had a lot of laughs and are looking forward to attending the next Mentor Conference.

Jonas Heinemann 
(Bachelor degree student at the Nordakademie, 1st semester)