Trainee around the world: Niklas' assignment in Chile

19 Apr 2024
Timber construction, tunnel construction and back: Niklas completed the technical trainee program at ZÜBLIN Timber. Here he provides interesting insights into his journey through the corporate world, his assignment abroad in Chile and his current position in construction management.
Young man on a cliff, sea in the background

The technical trainee program at ZÜBLIN Timber: the best way to start for Niklas

After leaving school, Niklas first trained as a carpenter. Then he studied civil engineering at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and also dealt with timber construction in his final thesis. Followed by the next logical step: the trainee program at ZÜBLIN Timber. This allowed Niklas to pursue his interest in wood as a material in innovative large-scale projects. Over the course of the 15-month program, Niklas got to know a lot: various departments, timber construction from the ground up and the complex corporate world at ZÜBLIN.

  • I spent the first four weeks of my traineeship in production at the Aichach site. I was able to brush up on my carpentry skills after my studies and work at full capacity right from the start. A motivating start!

    Niklas Zimmermann
    Site manager in timber construction and facade at ZÜBLIN Timber (former trainee)

From work preparation to costing, Niklas gained an insight into several departments and then spent around nine weeks in the construction management department working on a timber construction project in Heilbronn. "The construction site was the highlight of my trainee program. Working on site is more exciting for me than any desk job. Thanks to my training as a carpenter, I also have manual experience and know what it's like to stand on scaffolding in the cold of winter or the heat of summer. This also makes it easier to work with the employees," says Niklas.

Building a network within the STRABAG Group

For the next six months, Niklas swapped life on the construction site for the office. He also worked in various departments at the Stuttgart site, for example in tendering and awarding, controlling and contract management. The stations here were geared towards his desired target position. At Niklas' personal request, he therefore moved to the STRABAG Innovation and Digitalization department (SID).

"I was able to take something away from every station. Be it professional input, a personal friendship, improving my English skills or understanding how a large company works. In one way or another, I have benefited from all stations in my development," summarizes Niklas.

  • If you are open-minded and approach people, you can learn an incredible amount in these 15 months!


Next stop: Chile!

Niklas faced his biggest challenge at the end of his trainee program: a three-month stay abroad on a ZÜBLIN International tunnel project in Chile. It wasn't just the odd linguistic challenge that awaited him there. He also had to master the technical leap from timber construction to tunnel construction. Depending on the available projects and personal preferences, the foreign assignment can lead to a neighboring country or to a different part of the world, as in Niklas' case.

  • A unique opportunity arose for me: there was a super exciting project in Chile and I still had a basic knowledge of Spanish from school. So here we go!


In consultation with the People & Culture department and local contacts, the options for the assignment abroad were worked out. "I wanted to get as far away as possible and get to know a new culture," recalls Niklas. ZÜBLIN is involved in a state copper extraction project in the South American country and is building tunnels in the world's largest copper deposit. "I wouldn't have had the chance to get to know such a mega project with a regional timber construction company. For me, ZÜBLIN Timber combines both: practical work with wood and the opportunities of a globally operating company," says Niklas.

Trainee program completed. And now?

After 15 months on the trainee program, Niklas has now settled into his job as a site manager in the timber construction and facade division at ZÜBLIN Timber. "After the many impressions and changes of location and department over the past few months, I'm looking forward to being able to focus on one project for longer," Niklas reveals. His first project is already in the starting blocks: the Schule am Hang in Frankfurt. This involves modernizing the existing school and adding a timber construction.

For Niklas, the decision to join the technical trainee program was a real hit. "Thanks to my training and previous knowledge, I could have gone straight into construction management. But especially with a group as complex and globally active as ZÜBLIN, I think joining the trainee program is the better choice," says Niklas. This allowed him to get to know the large STRABAG Group better, build up a network and learn more about the diverse development opportunities at STRABAG. "I got to know many fields of activity, but for me, building with wood will always be my first choice," Niklas concludes.