Nina Oelerich is in the third semester of a combined study course in business management at the Wirtschaftsakademie (Business Academy) in Kiel with the goal of achieving a Bachelor of Arts (BA) at Sauer & Sohn
Why did you opt for a combined study course at Sauer & Sohn?
When I had finished half of my upper level at the grammar school I had to think about my future path and my initial steps into the world of work. The question as to whether I would tackle full-time study never came up because I felt that attending school for 13 years was enough. Therefore, I only considered an apprenticeship or a combined study course. Once I had obtained in-depth information about the combined study system, I opted for this choice. It was exactly what I was looking for: practice-based theory. After the interview with Sauer & Sohn I had the feeling that it was a very family-orientated company with great commitment and support for its future employees. For this reason I wanted to start a combined study course with Sauer & Sohn if I was accepted and fortunately this also happened.
What is your role?
As I am studying a combined business management course, I am working my way through all the departments included in the training for a business career and am also completing these tasks. This also serves as the basis for the completion of my Chamber of Industry and Commerce qualification as an industrial clerk that I will complete alongside my combined study course. The planning of the individual departments here can be varied according to your own interests and wishes so that there is no set route that needs to be followed.
What were your expectations with regard to the study course and have these been fulfilled?
I expected the combined study course to be very tough, demanding and exciting at the same time, therefore a major challenge. This is also certainly true!
I was aware from my research that you have to be very hard-working, well organised and determined to do a combined study course to reconcile a compact study course and the practical training. What I can say is: Ambition and curiosity not only help me, but also the support of Sauer & Sohn, my fellow students and the lecturers. The compact study course is based on the principle of "Support through Challenges; a semester is made up of a tightly packed lecture programme over a period of nine weeks with a final examination week in the form of written exams and the submission of semester work. The lectures are held in classes, i.e. in groups with approx. 25 students on combined study courses. This way group awareness increases tremendously and you can count on the help of fellow students in the case of weaknesses or uncertainties. The lecturers are very committed and always open to questions and suggestions. Lectures are related to practical experiences and therefore, as hoped, I can also use the theory acquired in the practical sections.
I am in favour of the pressure put on us by the short semesters, the large amount of material to be learnt and my own expectations. I always feel motivated to achieve good results and assimilate the lectures, which also helps me with practical work.
I must also emphasise that the combined business management course by no means meets my initial expectations in terms of content. Mathematics and accounting were part of my day-to-day studies in the first two semesters rather than business management and economics Industrial management in particular, which I have for four semesters, is very demanding and practice-orientated, providing great potential for learning. It also calls for me to interpret everything that I have already experienced in the company in a meaningful way and use it again at a later stage when solving problems.
What do you particularly like about the combined study course?
It particularly appeals to me that theory and practice are constantly linked. On the one hand, what you have learnt and, on the other hand, what you have experienced yourself. This combination makes it easier to understand relationships and concepts and also to know about these without any dull rote learning. In later semesters we also tackle projects to consolidate the link between theory and practice through intensive (and sometimes even nerve-racking) discussions.
Another major advantage compared to a full-time study course is the close contact within the "class" and with the lecturers. Fellow students help each other and lecturers also seek direct contact if they feel that there are uncertainties. The confrontations in particular enhance practical thinking and potential negotiations, for example, when acting out possible scenarios.
In addition we not only cover factual information that is part of our course, but also subjects from the "key competencies" module, such as "project management" and "communication," which improve your own skills.
You can also attend elective courses that do not award credits, but offer additional qualifications, which also provide support with practical work. Stays abroad that are regularly offered can also be added to the end of a semester. For example, you can fly to Ireland for three weeks at the end of the second semester and attend a university there.
What skills do people wanting to do this study course need to bring to the company?
As the combined study course has a very compact structure, the person needs to be determined and hard-working so that they do not lose sight of their objective during the semester. It is also an advantage if they can work under pressure and cope with stress. They should also be really interested in the course so that they also enjoy learning the subject. This is particularly important because all modules are based on one another and therefore also refer to material from previous modules. I also think that it is very important to be able to connect with each other and network so that we can fall back on the knowledge acquired at a later stage with practical work and can make the right decisions on this basis.
A straightforward, organised and structured approach is an advantage because it helps to make the most effective use of the very short period of time.
And basic skills in mathematics and accounting make the first semesters even easier. But even although I was an "accounting newbie," I have handled it well.