Taking on the responsibility
Many graduates view the end of their studies with mixed feelings. Some even feel some apprehension about the future. After all, working life is so completely different to being a student.
The half, even free days, are a thing of a past. But if, like me, you combine your studies with work, you become prepared for the everyday world of work. My name is Meike Ulrich and I am one of the three former students who worked at VIACOR Polymer GmbH. I studied Business Studies Service Management and Media and Communications at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW). A cooperative education course comprises three months of study and three months of work experience within a company. You get to spend time in most departments, even though
my studies already dictated in which area I would be working in the future.
It should be obvious for every student, even students doing cooperative education courses, that the everyday world of work is completely different to studying. You have to spend at least eight hours at the university every day, after all we are being paid for this. But everyone who has sat through lectures knows that after a certain amount of time, you switch off when you have to sit and concentrate for a long period of time, but this shouldn’t happen when you’re working, where you have to remain focussed for eight hours. Even at DHBW there are days when lectures are postponed or they only take place in the mornings. Starting working life will signal a complete change to your lifestyle, a turning point in your life even.
The dual course includes
having to attend lectures
Students aren’t usually familiar with a routine in their everyday lives. Getting to work at a certain time? Not everyone finds this easy. For some the daily rhythm is pushed forward and they have to get up earlier and they are no longer writing essays until late at night. They were used to having periods at work and periods away from work, but once you start your new way of life you will be faced with a constant workload and may even have to do extra hours.
You also have to learn that the interaction with work colleagues is different to how you are with your fellow students. You speak with
VIACOR is a partner
of DHBW Stuttgart
At the DHBW the day is much more structured than at a normal university, but you still have to get used to the adjustment.
them in a different, more formal way than you do with your friends at university. There are established hierarchies in place which need to be respected and different age groups and lifestyles come together. At university, the communication with professors is mostly limited to your studies, but at work you get to speak about other things such as holidays and sometimes even salary negotiations. These are things that you don’t get to talk about at all when you’re studying.
The first few weeks after your studies have ended are a real wake-up call, even if you are working in the same company as during your studies and you already know the procedures there. Students tend to have an idyllic view of everyday working life. But they often don’t have enough time to fulfil every task as thoroughly as they might like to, so they have to learn to multi-task. When you manage to get through the initial acclimatisation period, the advantages become clear to see. The end of the day means the end of the day and weekends mean weekends. When you’re studying it’s constant and you’re working after lectures and at weekends.
Students tend to have an idyllic
view of everyday working life.
Sometimes when you start working, during those first few weeks you get a guilty conscience when you really enjoy the feeling of finishing work at the end of the day. The same applies to taking holidays, although you have to coordinate this with your work colleagues and you only have a certain amount of holiday allowance, but you’re able to really switch off much better during work
holidays and enjoy the well-earned break away from work.
My field of study, Business Studies Service Management, Media and Communication combines a knowledge of media with business. The students gain an understanding in the areas of media, service, organisation and communication.
The Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) is the only state-run cooperative education university in Germany. It has partnered up with over 9,000 companies and social institutions and currently has over 34,000 students and 145,000 past students. There are over 20 courses and 100 areas of study on offer.