Dual studies are currently experiencing a real boom among young people. The combination of vocational experience and a degree course enables students to get two qualifications at once after 3 1/2 years. We were given the opportunity to accompany dual student Julia Jasinski for a day at ista.
Closeness to the customer and practical experience
8 a.m.: At the ista customer centre in the Bonn branch, Julia Jasinski is switching on her computer. Here she handles phone calls, letters and e-mails from customers. It is often about answering general questions on bills, about checking and correcting, and about customers’ queries regarding the invoices.
“I particularly enjoy this direct contact with the customer because being one of the ‘voices of ista’ not only gives me a lot of responsibility but also allows me to get a feeling for what the customers want and for local practices in general,” she explains. The experience she has already gained during her apprenticeship while on job rotation in the other departments at the Bonn branch help her to do this job: in the first year, she prepared offers in the Sales department and helped new and existing customers to have the right metering equipment installed in their homes. Here she particularly liked preparing the offers and selling. In the second year, she was in the Order Scheduling department and the Device Centre and responsible for creating and placing orders as well as for payment of the field service workers. ista attaches great importance to team spirit and in this department “the team fitted together particularly well”, the 25-year-old recounts. She spent three months of her apprenticeship in the Technology Centre. Here she was able to demonstrate her organisational skills, prepared training courses and helped the field service workers with technical questions. “I like the diversity that the apprenticeship offers. So you get to know the company from all sides and take something new with you from every department,” she says, summing up.
Involvement pays off
12 noon: Time for a lunch break. Julia also gets on really well with her colleagues in the Customer Centre and she always loves working in a team. So in addition to her work and part-time studies for a degree, she gets involved in company events and helped to organise the “ista Soccer Cup”. “I absolutely loved having the opportunity as an apprentice to play a part in a staff event for some 1,000 colleagues,” Jasinski explains. It also gave her the chance to extend her organisational and communication skills.
Free time comes last
5 p.m.: Work is over at last. But not for Julia. While her colleagues can now look forward to a relaxing evening, the day is far from over for the dual studies student. After dinner she has to sit down at her desk or go to the library. During her dual studies she first of all goes to vocational college on Mondays and Tuesdays and works in the company from Wednesdays to Fridays. In addition to all this time devoted to her apprenticeship, she also spends her Friday evenings and Saturdays in the lecture halls of FOM, University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management, studying for her degree. She often sits there until 10 or 11 o’clock at night and learns. “That’s just the way it is. You work and study full-time,” Jasinski explains briefly and smiles. She thinks it is important for everybody who opts for the dual studies programme to really understand that you have to be prepared to forego things in your private life. However, it is all worthwhile in the end because after three-and-a-half years you have a full apprenticeship qualification and also a Bachelor’s in your pocket. In the ideal case, you can apply the content you have learned in class directly in practice in the company. Another advantage for Julia Jasinski is that, in contrast to other students, she doesn’t have to look for a student job but already gets an apprentice’s salary at ista.
In search of a subject for her Bachelor thesis
Julia Jasinski is sure that her Bachelor thesis will be about sustainability. To be precise: about “Corporate Social Responsibility” – the sustainability aspect in companies. Sustainability is very important to her: at ista she already got involved in this field by developing a sustainability concept for the Bonn branch, for which ista awarded her the title of “Sustainability Hero 2017” last year. “I would like to work in a company that takes social and ecological aspects into account,” Jasinski explains. Our society has been changing for some years now and, just like people, companies are also thinking more and more about the environment. In 2016 a law was passed in this context, requiring companies with more than 500 employees to prepare a sustainability report. “ista has, however, already been doing that since 2011 – voluntarily“, says Julia Jasinski. She would now like to write about the reporting obligation and the preparation of sustainability reports in her Bachelor thesis.
Future and passion
11 p.m.: Time to go to bed and recharge her batteries for the next day. As far as her future is concerned, Jasinski wants to immerse herself in a field where she can combine her personal interests with work. “I would like to go more into the strategic side of business. For example, I could easily imagine myself working in Corporate Communications. At ista this department also covers sustainability communications. Here I could really get stuck into the whole topic of sustainability, plan and implement projects and also help to prepare the sustainability report,” says Julia Jasinski, sharing her plans with us.
Dual studies – A very clever idea! Apprenticeship and degree in one
Dual studies are currently experiencing a real boom among young people with university-qualifying certificates. By combining a classic apprenticeship and an academic degree, the graduates have two qualifications to their name in no more than four years: a Chamber of Industry and Commerce diploma and a Bachelor’s degree. As they work during the day in a company, dual studies students not only gain valuable practical experience but also earn a salary. The ideal combination of practice and theory does require ambition, but for this very reason dual studies students are highly sought after by companies and enjoy good career prospects.