At the moment, we are receiving a remarkably high number of enquiries from parents who are facing the question of how they can best support their children in their choice of career. In particular in light of the changing landscape of higher education in Germany (following the Bologna Process), it is no longer clear what is the best option for the younger generation: a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or, first of all, to go and gain experience abroad. And what exactly is a Dual Study Program? We would like to clarify a few terms and also give you our position, from a business point of view, on what really matters to us.
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Vocational training or university degree?
When you yourselves were faced with the question as to which career path to take, you very probably heard the sentence, more than once: “First of all, get some ‘proper’ training (for example, an apprenticeship at a bank) — you can always go to university later!” In principle, this advice hasn’t changed very much; nonetheless, today many people think that the quicker you are, the better. Far from it! From a company’s perspective, it is still the case that good old practical experience counts for a lot. If you have a greater desire to work, you should pursue the option of vocational training and then take it from there. But if you want to go to university directly after school, it is advisable to integrate into your studies a number of lengthy internships.
What is a Dual Study Program?
A Dual Study Program is a university degree course which combines theoretical studies with practical work experience within a company. After three years of successful studies, students are awarded a Bachelor’s degree and are very well qualified for their future professional lives. It is, of course, also an added benefit that within the Dual Study Program students have a employment contract with a company and are paid a salary. We, at the adidas Group, work together with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW), whose courses leave sufficient room for practical experience. As a result, students on the Dual Study Program alternate every three months between practical work experience and their studies. And if you haven’t had enough of studying after completing the Dual Study Program, you can go on to do a subsequent Master’s programme.
Practical work experience while studying at university?
We never grow tired of saying that what really matters to us as a company is lots of practical work experience. A university degree alone is not sufficient in itself — it is also crucial to gain practical experience. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Bologna Process in Germany, this aspect is losing ever more importance as practical work experience is no longer mandatory for the courses offered by many institutions of higher education. In this case, we recommend taking a semester off — it’s time well invested and gives you the opportunity to orientate yourselves when choosing your career path. In addition, you are able to make business contacts which you can revert to after you’ve completed your studies and are looking for a job. Because practical work experience is so important to us, we have co-founded a Facebook initiative ‘Mut zur Praxis’ — ‘Go For Work Experience’ — where we, together with a number of other major companies, can answer questions you may have with regard to this topic.
Many pupils, students and parents ask us whether, from a company’s perspective, it is more important to quickly make progress after finishing school or to be able to show a CV with seamless transitions. For us, it is perfectly acceptable if someone doesn’t carry on and pursue a career immediately after leaving school, but decides, instead, to first gather experience — for example, by taking time out to work and travel. Time abroad is always a good idea and, in any case, these days languages are indispensable. However, social projects can also be very helpful for orientating yourself. What is key is to do whatever you do with passion. Hanging out is not an option, but some people do need a little longer to find their way and you can do something worthwhile during this time.
Too much of a good thing?
For many parents, it has become normal to find the ideal career for their children, to plan every single step, to check that the plan is being carried out and, ideally, to even discuss their children’s assessment with the company themselves. We, on the other hand, are looking for young people who can think for themselves and who can cope when times are rough. People like this understand that feedback serves their personal development and that, if you listen carefully and ask the right questions, you can learn a lot about yourself. Of course, it is good to talk to your children about their professional career options and, if need be, to increase the pressure. Nonetheless, for us it is crucial that applicants have chosen their career path by themselves and can explain exactly why they want to do the job they have applied for.
How to make contact?
Most companies advertise relevant positions on the career pages of their corporate website. As a rule, candidates are chosen for all training programmes and for the Dual Study Program in autumn, one year in advance. Apprentices and students starting in autumn 2013 are, therefore, recruited in autumn 2012. For some occupational groups, however, we also look for new talent during the year. By the way, pupils are very welcome to contact us themselves (parents don’t have to do it for them) and put their questions to us about the occupational profile they are interested in. We are used to connecting with people of this age group and adjusting to their language and their possible insecurities. Lots of information can be found on the career pages of companies’ websites or on Facebook. In addition, we recommend visiting career fairs as, here, you can gain a good overview of offers available to you and speak to the relevant company representatives.
Finally, kindly note that we have very clear guidelines on the format of the applications submitted to our company and detailed information about the requirements needed for the individual programmes. Please ensure that your children’s applications are error-free as this would get them off to a very good start. As you can see — essentially, not much has changed, except that the application process is mostly conducted online and that Facebook can be very useful when choosing a profession.