You can be as informed as you want, but it’s impossible to begin a new education path without any expectations and concerns. What milestones will I encounter? Will I be in a minority as a woman in IT? What if I don’t get a job after graduation?
Apprentices and dual course students Koray Diler, Aileen Werner and Christopher Zirkelbach are at different stages of their education, but they all have one thing in common; they’re making their futures by studying with Siemens. They answer the above questions, and tell us what their courses are really like behind closed doors.
Christopher studied mechanical engineering at the The Deggendorf Institute of Technology and completed an apprenticeship as an industrial mechanic. At the end of this year, he will start working at Siemens. He calls his training the “complete package”.
Why did you choose a dual degree course in mechanical engineering?
I was always convinced a dual course would be right for me, I just wasn’t sure about the specific subject. In the end, I applied for Siemens. Of course, you never know at the beginning what to expect, even if you have done all your research. But I am very pleased with how everything has worked out.
Was it clear to you from the beginning that you would be hired by Siemens after your apprenticeship?
It wasn’t certain; you definitely have to take care of it yourself. Everyone who completes a course here is guaranteed to be taken on for a year, but I was very happy to get an immediate contract. This makes sense for the company as it invests in us from the very beginning.
What were your early highlights?
Definitely my move to Munich – I moved from the country to a big city with lots of like-minded people.
What did you enjoy most during your education?
Even at the beginning of our studies we had a very exciting practical phase. I’m not talking about the engineering office here, but really the factory. We were allowed to work hands-on and screw things together. By seeing everything in real life, I’ve been able to quickly understand how everything works.
Which way would you like to go with Siemens in the coming years?
This is precisely the question I ask myself at the moment. I would like to learn more about the human aspects – this might be in sales or project management. Let’s see how it goes.
Aileen studies business informatics/economics while training as a specialist in system integration. Her (not so) secret passions? Shoe shopping and hacking.
When did you know you were interested in following a technical education?
Technically, I’ve always been interested. I was a daddy’s girl and wanted to join him fixing cars. I found the theoretical part just as exciting. After school, I started studying physics with computer science as the minor subject. In the lectures, I became more and more aware that I was most interested in computer science. Then I thought, “Starting a new course again before I’m earning money isn’t a good idea.” That’s why I came to the idea of dual study. I only learned at a trade fair that Siemens offered it – I was quite surprised.
How has your perception of the brand Siemens changed?
I’d thought Siemens would be a series of giant towers full of offices where everyone passes by everyone, but it’s the opposite – I see the same people every day. That’s not supposed to sound negative; it’s a small ecosystem here. I wouldn’t like swimming in a large pond – I’d be too afraid!
Are you in a minority as a woman in the field of IT?
Not really. Of course, there are a few more men here, but it’s not that big a difference.
Were there any preconceptions you had to face?
Never. The only negative reactions were going against my intelligence, as some people thought the course wouldn’t be suitable and was too complex for me.
How much leisure time do you have?
A lot. I play handball four times a week and on the weekends there are tournaments. I also meet with colleagues I’ve met on the course and my roommates.
Which area within IT do you find most interesting?
I don’t know if I am even allowed to say it, but I find hacking incredibly exciting.
What fascinates you about it?
For me personally it’s the feeling that you are almighty. If you see security gaps in a program that has been declared as safe by specialists, you can see how many possibilities there are. And of course, it’s cool to be so powerful.
Do you have a secret recipe for days when you reach a low point?
So far it has always helped me to go through it with my fellow students. A problem shared is a problem halved. And if you do not feel great one day, that’s OK as well. It happens to everyone. On those days I would go and buy some new shoes.
Koray is in his second semester at The Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Germany. He studies electrical engineering as part of a dual study program. He explains how he’s learnt to automate register entries and how he went from almost failing math to topping his class.
When did you decide to study electrical engineering?
Relatively late. I used to think I wanted to work in the social field, preferably with children. That’s the reason I almost failed math. I didn’t care about the subjects that I thought I wouldn’t need in the future. My motto was, “As long as I don’t fail completely, it’s OK”.
And how is your math now?
I did have a lot of trouble getting back into it again, but after a few hurdles, I’m now one of the best in my class.
Is there a sector at Siemens that particularly interests you?
To be honest, I would work in almost every department in this company.
Why did you choose a dual course?
I had to confess that a “regular” course would never have been for me, because practical work is just where my strength lies. On the other hand, I thought that a dual course is twice as hard as a theoretical course – especially with such a large and successful company as Siemens.
And were you proven right?
The demands are definitely high, but on the other hand, I can be just as demanding. The more you put in, the more you get out. A pretty good deal I would say.
Did you find any friends during your studies?
Of course. Actually, I spend more time with most of my fellow students than my family now.
Which project are you currently working on?
Each year we get a special practical task, which combines all subjects. In our current project, we equipped our classrooms with smart grids. That includes digitizing and automating registers, which helps teachers to document who is ill or absent from class. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun.
Siemens offers apprenticeships and learning programs in different sectors in 14 countries and more than 40 locations around the globe. These include practical courses, science-based apprenticeships, and dual study programs which run alongside various universities. Siemens is currently training around 10,000 school graduates in the future-oriented industries of electronics, IT, metal and technology.