The former apprentices from Berghof Testing, Max Mayer (right) and René Rauch
Interview | Berghof Testing

Six questions to René Rauch and Max Mayer

February 5, 2021

Only after some detours, Max Mayer (right) and René Rauch decided in favor of a training as industrial electricians at Berghof Testing. In the meantime, they both have successfully completed their training – and looking back on this time they feel great satisfaction and gratitude. In this interview, Max and René tell us about the aspects that, from their point of view, make the training as industrial electricians at Berghof Testing so interesting, why many other trainees at vocational school envied them for their training at Berghof, and how the skills they have acquired are also useful for their exciting free time projects.

1. In theory, things are quite clear: After graduating from school, you sign up for a training. But in practice, things are often different. What was it like with you?

Max Mayer: Having completed an internship while still attending school I knew early on that I wanted to become an electrician. I initially decided to train as a conventional electrician, however. Knowing what I know now, I have to say: unfortunately. In the first few months, I realized that the often monotonous work on the construction site didn't quite appeal to me. In the first year of training, you can switch if there is a vacancy in another company. So I looked around for a training position in the industrial sector that hadn't been filled yet – and discovered what I was looking for at Berghof. Today I know: that was a very lucky coincidence that granted me an incredibly instructive and valuable training period.

René Rauch: In principle, there was a number of paths open to me after graduating from high school: Apprenticeship? (Dual) Studies? Voluntary Social Year (FSJ)? For the time being, I decided to do an FSJ. During this time, I pondered a lot on my professional future – and then specifically decided on a technical training. My enthusiasm for tinkering with electrics runs in my family: My father Theo Rauch let me lend a hand in his private workshop at an early age and taught me quite a few things. He also told me a lot about the Berghof Group in general and Berghof Testing in particular, so it was clear to me that you wouldn't find a comparably exciting environment in the region twice. Of course, at first I did have doubts about working in the same company as my father. But those quickly dissipated in the course of the training.

2. In your opinion, what are the most important benefits of the training at Berghof Testing? What made the training period so instructive and valuable for both of you?

Max Mayer: Right from the start, there was a total contrast to my first apprenticeship: At Berghof Testing, I immediately felt part of the team and taken seriously. I was quickly entrusted with tasks that involved some responsibility. That was a very positive surprise for me. As to the work itself, what I particularly liked right from the beginning was the fact that dealing with our customer projects you are often involved in very complex and innovative plants that pose challenges to you again and again. From time to time, your help as an electrician is also needed at one of the other business units of the Berghof Group on the Berghof Campus in Eningen. In this way, you are offered insights into other areas of the Berghof Group. So it really never gets boring.

René Rauch: My positive expectations were also fully met by the training. As Max already mentioned: You will definitely not be bored during this training – one reason for that is the fact that as an electrician, you often have a lot to do with mechanics in addition to the electrical part and so you learn something about milling, grinding and punching components, for example. I’ve never had any regrets preferring this apprenticeship over studying. What I really appreciate in retrospect: As part of the training, you also learn a lot about home electrics – and so you can do a lot of DIY works in your apartment or house.

3. What role did your instructors play in making the training pay off for you?

Max Mayer: For me, they definitely played a very big role. The team of trainers here is really very patient and responds individually to each apprentice. It was also important for me that I had a second apprentice, René, at my side for professional and personal exchange. This is a common practice at Berghof Testing, and as to the current apprentices, there are also two of them.

René Rauch: I can only confirm that. For me, too, the patient team of trainers, who were always available to us, and the exchange with Max were really worth their weight in gold. What I would like to add: The training team also has a good feel for the right mix of theoretical knowledge and practical tips for everyday work. This makes learning fun. That's why my training journey isn't over yet: I want to learn even more – and definitely continue my training to become a technical specialist in the foreseeable future.

4. Thrilling tasks, a true team atmosphere, motivated and patient instructors – certainly not everyone in your training year experienced such positive moments, did they?

Max Mayer: No, unfortunately not. When we talked to other apprentices about our experiences, we realized more and more how lucky we were at Berghof Testing. From my point of view, the close practical orientation is a great advantage: In many large companies, the trainees work almost exclusively in the training workshop, and thus remain completely among themselves. At Berghof Testing, it's always about working on projects – and that's teamwork. Apprentices too are full members of the team. You are supported but at the same time it’s quite demanding.

René Rauch: Many other apprentices at the vocational school actually envied us. Especially in the second year of our apprenticeship, when we were involved in many exciting projects and were even allowed to visit customers again and again to install systems on site and put them into operation. That's not a must, of course, but if you want to do that, you definitely get the chance to have a try at it at Berghof Testing. What impressed me most about this was the fact that we clearly sensed to what extent our customers hold our test modules and test systems in high esteem. Of course, that’s music to your ears and makes you proud.

5. Electrics is considered a particularly demanding craft discipline. Is that how you see it – and if so, why is it so demanding?

Max Mayer: Yes, it definitely is. In many other areas, you can try things out first and then change them if necessary in case they turn out not to be the best solution. Electrical engineering is another business: One wrong wiring – and the damage can be considerable. In the worst case, it can even get really dangerous, because electric shocks are something not to be trifled with. So we always have to be highly concentrated and plan and work extremely meticulously.

René Rauch: I fully agree with that. That's why, as an apprentice in this field, you spend almost all of your first year at vocational school. You need a lot of theoretical knowledge and a solid foundation in maths and physics before you can really get going in practice as an electrician.

6. Speaking of really getting started: they always say electricians find it hard to escape from the “fascination of electrics“ even in their free time and therefore like to tinker a lot on related projects. Is that the case with you as well?

Max Mayer: Yes, there's a lot of truth in that. I'm a big fan of computer games and have built myself a racing simulator with all the trimmings. I also like to fiddle around with my computer to make it even better and more efficient.

René Rauch: Same here. For example, I'm very enthusiastic about the whole “smart home“ topic so I've already installed a lot of functions in our apartment. I've also implemented my very own interpretation of electric mobility – and built myself a skateboard with an electric motor (see photo).