Reprinted from the August 9-15, 2001 Sonoma West Times and News by Corey Young, Sonoma West Staff writer
There’s a new face at Sebastopol’s city hall this summer, and it belongs to Kathrin Rutz, a 27 year-old intern from Switzerland. Rutz is working for the city as part of an international intern program, designed to give young people experience in their chosen field.
Rutz is interested in management and business administration. She arrived July 14th to work with City Manager David Brennan for two months. Her tasks have included writing an employee handbook and setting up an employee newsletter for the city.
Rutz said her first couple of days on the job were challenging - because everything she was reading was in a language foreign to her. But she speaks fluent English and was able to catch up.
“I think I have quite a good overview,” Rutz said. “It’s going pretty well.” Her goal of working in the business field is different than her previous career. For five years, Rutz worked as a primary school teacher back home in Switzerland. She taught children ages 11 to 14, similar to the age group in American middle schools.
“When I went through the teacher’s school, I always knew I wouldn’t be teaching,” Rutz said. “It’s surprising that I’ve been teaching for five years now.” Rutz never thought she would like being a teacher, and said she had other interests she wanted to explore.
“Being a teacher is nice, and I really enjoyed these five years, but it’s time to go on,” she said. “I have some other skills which I’d like to improve.” Cultural Homestay International, a San Anselmo-based organization that places interns with businesses in the U.S. and Canada, gave Rutz the opportunity to work with the city.
Interns must apply in their home country and go through a screening process before being accepted, said Jan King, the CHI assistant area administrator.
“They’re screened in their home country very well,” said King. Applicants have to submit a package to the program that includes their academic background, their career goals and three letters of support. They are also interviewed to assess their English proficiency.
“We’re constantly trying to generate interesting placements,” said King. She learned of the Sebastopol City Hall intern job in the spring, and the program was able to match Rutz with the requirements of the position.
“When she goes back, she will excel in her business courses, and she’ll be at the top of the list of people applying for a job,” said King.
“I’m interested in different cultures, meeting different people,” she said. “I think that the way you get to know people is the way you get to know a country”
Sebastopol is similar in size to her hometown in Switzerland, Rutz said.
“You can find anything here,” said Rutz. “It’s all in one street.”
During her stay, Rutz is living with a host family in Sebastopol, close enough to ride her bike to work. She plans to bike along the Joe Rodota trail to Santa Rosa while she’s here.
Rutz said the weather in Sebastopol is much warmer than what she’s used to in Switzerland. After her internship is over, she wants to visit friends in Southern California and see some Napa Valley wineries.
* This interview is excerpted from http://www.chinet.org/ with permission.