An internship in the Corporate Archives – corporate memory and information corporate archivesservice provider

By: Marco Rödler

I grew up in a small Palatine village called Geiselberg and moved to Heidelberg to study history. Chance brought me to the corporate archive of Heidelberg Materials.

During my studies, I attended a lecture by an archivist on the subject of career perspectives for historians. When the lecturer recommended an internship at Heidelberg Materials, I decided to try my luck and send an unsolicited application to the head of the corporate archives. After a short correspondence and a pleasant interview, I was able to start my voluntary internship in the fall of 2021. My expectation here was to find orientation for my professional future: Could I imagine working as an archivist?

I had already completed internships in public archives and institutes of history before, but now it was important to me to make a kind of lateral move in order to get to know a private archive.

Once I arrived at the company, I was warmly welcomed by my colleagues and excellently integrated into our working group. I find it particularly positive that I have been able to take on challenging tasks on an equal footing and actively participate in shaping them since the beginning of my employment. My work in the corporate archive has turned out to be extremely varied and exciting; there is no question of a "dusty archive" here. On the contrary - the digital transformation has long been tackled here.

Participation in the digital anniversary exhibition

The coming year has its work cut out for it: in 2023, Heidelberg Materials will be 150 years old. To mark this historic and festive occasion, I am working within our team to develop content for a comprehensive digital anniversary exhibition.

Employees and outside visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the impressive history of Heidelberg Materials: From the pioneering days to the present day of the global player, there is much to discover. The story began in 1873, when beer brewer Johann Philipp Schifferdecker bought a Heidelberg mill building and its grounds at auction for his planned cement plant.

Writing exhibition texts was one of my favorite tasks here. However, it was not easy. Storytelling alone requires a lot of practice, historical knowledge, creativity and perseverance. But how do you actually get information? Files are stored in the company archives that can provide us with information on this. Some historically extremely valuable documents from Heidelberg Materials' pioneering years are preserved in the Corporate Archives, stored and made available for the present as well as future generations. The archive is a kind of memory of the company.

Digital asset management

Over 400,000 photos and videos are in our inventory. We manage them properly in an image database called Celum. It is an almost endless task to keyword the photos and in some cases to research them first. We have made arrangements with various departments to document rights and maintain meta-information in particular. Within this task, I pick out highlight images, complete the metadata, and thereby facilitate image research and use for colleagues. Simply put, it's service work for staff on image searches.

The active participation in important projects and the knowledge that I can make a contribution to the company and society every day is what drives me. In addition, as a historian, I am motivated to be able to communicate the content of history in a tangible, experienceable and comprehensible way through texts and images. My archival colleagues support me in this endeavor and encourage my professional development.

My work experience in the corporate archive was extremely beneficial and helped me with my professional orientation: Now I can imagine completing a master's degree in digital humanities, history or archival science and working in an archive in the future.

Tips for interns:

  • Be careful when crossing the “Berliner Straße” in front of the headquarters, some drivers coming illegally from the north often make a U-turn and almost run you over.
  • Throughout the day, I can recommend using the height-adjustable desk and working standing up more often, which really helps your back and physical well-being.
  • If you set your own deadlines, it helps you to approach your work in a more targeted manner.
  • Joined Heidelberg Materials in 2021
  • Intern Corporate Archive 
  • From: Geiselberg, Germany
  • Fun Fact: "I have played several songs on the piano in front of hundreds of people without being able to read music."