It's all about communication

When did you get the job as a guide?

It must have been 2005. I was looking for an interesting student job, and it sounded exciting. I had already gotten to know voestalpine during my student jobs during the summer.

What was it like for you when you first started as a guide?

Intense. We went through training for the first two or three weeks and were given a very solid technical background so that we didn't feel like we were being thrown in at the deep end. We were also given the chance to go along with experienced guides. Experienced guides also went along with us and gave us valuable feedback after our tours. There are always two of you when have larger groups.

What kind of skills do you need to be a guide?

You have to feel comfortable speaking in front of large groups, and you need to know how to gracefully react to others. It's also nice to have a certain level of interest in technologies. Most of the things you learn come as you go through the actions. You get to know a lot of different people, and treating them respectfully is very important. 

What were your visitors like?

I had all sorts of different groups: children, students, youth from rural areas, fire departments, senior citizens, customers, and once in a while employees from voestalpine You have a wide variety. The individual interests of each group differ greatly, and so you have to be very flexible.

Why is the job good for students?

It's entertaining and sophisticated at the same time, and you can schedule your hours at your own convenience. I named the days and time slots that would be most convenient for me, and it always worked out perfectly.

Which part of the job was the most fun for you?

All the things that I was able to learn, and being able to work directly with the people, to feel their reactions, especially the children's. We also had a very amiable working relationship with our colleagues. There was a lot of support for each other. I made a couple of very good friends during my time as a guide. Some of them are still here at voestalpine.

So the teamwork was great ...

Absolutely. We got together on a regular basis to eat and chat at a table reserved for us. We gave each other information and got feedback from others. I always had the feeling that the company appreciated our work a great deal. We were kind of a spearhead for the company.

What do you mean by that?

As voestalpine guides, we are often the first people that outsiders come into contact with when they visit our company for the first time. Some of the visitors had prejudices with respect to state-owned companies or dirty industry. It was our responsibility to set things right, and we were usually very successful in doing so. I remember many people who said to us after the tour that their perspectives of voestalpine were completely changed for the better.

Did you learn anything during this time that was of help to you today?

Guides learn to present information effectively, to create images in people's minds, to use examples and change the way people think about things. I learned to communicate effectively. I benefit greatly from this skill in carrying out my present responsibilities. I always had the goal in the back of my mind to one day work at voestalpine when I was done with my studies. My job as a guide prepared me well. It was surely an advantage when I applied to work here at voestalpine.

Where do the challenges lie in being a guide?

Most of the visitors are very attentive and friendly, but some groups are very difficult. But you learn develop a certain level of enthusiasm as the tour progresses, and at the end almost everyone tells you how much they liked it. It's not always easy, but you feel rewarded when you receive positive feedback. Work as a guide is challenging, and there are always new hills to climb.

For example?

Somewhere along the line I began giving tours in English This was usually for the smaller groups who were usually very intense, and there is no better way to keep in practice with your language skills.

What would you recommend to others who are interested in becoming a guide?

Just do it! You'll see how much fun it really is.