When asked for the first time whether she would be willing to be interviewed, Lara Munderloh is surprised. She certainly wasn’t expecting it. However, she doesn’t take long to agree with utter self-confidence and free of any reticence to be interviewed. But that’s typical of Lara Munderloh. Together with nine other students, the 20-year-old began her work-study program in September at OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the space and technology group OHB SE. Over eight semesters, she will be undergoing training in computer science for application development, with the aim of continuing to work at OHB after graduating. In an interview, she talks about her initial experiences at OHB, her personal career and what it feels like to be a woman in a technical profession.
Interest in technology aroused at an early age
Munderloh has been interested in “STEM” subjects for as long as she can remember. Back in 8th class, she had an opportunity of working on practical projects in the field of mechanical engineering. She enjoyed this so much that she decided to concentrate on technical subjects at school. That’s how she became acquainted with and grew to love programming. “Computer science was actually only a minor subject, but I really enjoyed it a lot. I like the numerous possibilities that it offers.” Her decision to enroll for an appropriate course of study in this field was obvious.
You should not allow uncertainty and unexpected events to upset you.
Open-mindedness as a credo
After leaving school, Munderloh spent one year traveling through Canada and the United States. She was particularly taken with the open and friendly nature of the Canadians. “I learned a lot there. Especially that you should be open to everything.” This open-mindedness is also reflected in Munderloh’s behaviour: relaxed and open-minded, she talks freely about her own experience. Since then she has tried to put herself under less pressure and to approach things with a certain calmness. “I did not plan the course of my journey. This showed me that you should not allow uncertainty and unexpected events to upset you.”
Women motivating women
Munderloh became aware of OHB through a newspaper article: “I hadn’t heard of OHB before, but I read an interview with a woman working in the space industry there. That was very inspirational for me.” What she is referring to is a newspaper article about Aurelie Bresollette, who herself is an engineer at OHB. The article encouraged Munderloh to consider a career in space travel. So, she applied for a placement in the work-study program last year.
Her fascination for space travel had long ago been awakened as her father had aroused her interest in this area as a child. Munderloh is now happy to be working in such an exciting field, as it offers so much potential for future research.
I’m used to being outnumbered.
For as long as she has been able to think, Munderloh has been something of an outsider as a woman with technical interests. But she no longer minds it: “I’m used to it,” she says. “Although I used to occasionally feel that I was being taken less seriously as a woman, I haven’t experienced this here yet.” In any case, she is not alone as another three young women have also commenced the work-study program at the same time. Here at OHB, she felt that she was in good hands right from the start. This commenced with the job interview, during which she gained a favorable initial impression of the company and felt at home in a friendly and welcoming environment. And it has continued since the commencement of the program. “I feel particularly fortunate to be here as I was able to assert myself against many other applicants”, explains Munderloh.