The Corona pandemic has turned all our lives upside down. The most everyday things no longer work out the way we are used to, private life and work routine have been completely knocked over.
The training as chemical lab assistant in the laboratory continues
Many colleagues work short time or work from home. Of course, if you work in the office and therefore mostly on your laptop, you can do this from home without any problems. However, we in the chemical analysis department cannot simply pack our lab suits, hazardous substances, and equipment into our bags and work at the kitchen table. We have to find another solution.
The laboratory staff actually continue working as usual. Of course, there are additional hygiene regulations, but these do not greatly affect the work. In some cases, the offices have been divided up, disinfectant is available everywhere, masks are mandatory in the canteen and the necessary safety distance must be maintained. The samples are no longer brought directly to the laboratory by our colleagues in sample preparation. We have now set up collection points in the corridors to avoid direct contact between the departments.
As you can see, most of the processes have remained the same and so the regulations do not influence our work in a negative sense.
On your own in homeschooling?
In the laboratory, almost everything remained the same, which cannot be said of the classes in the vocational school. At the beginning of the Corona crisis, classes were completely cancelled. We had to teach ourselves the entire subject matter at home. Sounds annoying, but it worked very well! The bigger problem is that the practical part of the lessons is missing. It’s impossible to make up for all the missed lessons in the next year. So we have to pass the exam without the usual practical exercises. But well, these are problems that my future self has to solve.
Right here and now the school life has resumed. However, not on three days as usual, but only on two days, so that there are fewer classes in the building. Normally there are about 25 students in one class – far too many to keep the minimum distance – so the classes are divided into two groups.
The theory lessons continue in accordance with the hygiene regulations, but unfortunately the practical part of the lessons is still not possible.
Exams during Corona
Despite closing the school for several months, we still had the theoretical and practical intermediate exams ahead of us, of which we did not even know if and when they would take place. In any case, the exam, which should have been written in May, was cancelled.
Not only daily, at the beginning of the Corona crisis even hourly there was new information from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce ( Industrie- und Handelskammer IHK) about the examination situation. There was great concern among the trainees as to whether we would be able to take the exams at all. Even on the day of our actual exam, we didn’t know what to do next, so the motto was: be patient and continue learning diligently. Finally we were given an examination date. While the relief was great at first, the lack of lessons was now troubling me and the other trainees.
How should we manage to master the practical examination without training units in the vocational school? We had to teach ourselves the most important subject of the intermediate examination (organic) at home. What if we did not properly study the material? What if we misunderstood important reaction mechanisms, equations, and chemical groups?! You can surely imagine how uncomfortable I felt when I took the exam, even though I had studied every free minute the weeks before. But my fellow trainees and I mastered it nevertheless and everyone achieved a very good grade. It was a huge relief for me and I hope that the exam situation will be more pleasant next year.
With a great team into the future after the crisis
Nobody knows exactly how things will continue. Our vocational school is preparing for further online lessons, and the practical units, which are especially important for the final examination, can unfortunately still not take place or be repeated.
Fortunately, we have a supporting team in the company at our side. Two super nice colleagues from our department helped us make up for the missed practical lessons.
So now we have successfully passed the intermediate exam and I am sure: If we all stick together, we will reach our goal of passing the final exam even in the corona crisis.
Katharina Bayer is an apprentice chemical laboratory assistant in Nuremberg. Even as a trainee she is an equal member of the laboratory team and takes on tasks in the analytical department. Her special focus is on the determination of organic and inorganic hazardous substances such as heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, arsenic) and organic compounds (e.g. plasticizers). Besides chemistry, Katharina’s heart beats for “Rheinische Garde- und Showtanz” and she participates in international competitions. In her free time she also likes to go on festivals and concerts, meet friends in the bar and is always happy to have good food.
Giving feedback correctly in the job
Formulating salary expectations correctly