Valuable contacts: the alumni network
Studying at University of Applied Sciences Europe not only prepares students for professional life, it is also a formative time in their lives. The years spent living and learning at the university and on campus shape everyone individually. This creates a strong sense of solidarity among students. Their shared experience forms the basis for BiTS Alumni e.V., the network of all graduates and students of the UE universities in Iserlohn, Hamburg, and Berlin.
Alumni Carina Jonatzke and Florian Babilon, who completed their B.A. in Business and Management Studies and M.A. in Corporate Management respectively, have moved to Shanghai after graduation to develop their careers further. In this interview, they tell how that came about and what their time on Campus Iserlohn was like.
Carina, you graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2015, and Florian, you with a Master’s degree in 2016 from the University of Applied Sciences Europe Campus Iserlohn. There are many universities that have a good business faculty. Why did you choose the University of Applied Sciences Europe – then BiTS?
The main reasons for deciding to study at the University of Applied Sciences Europe – then BiTS – were firstly the good reputation of the school and secondly the opportunity to acquire the academic foundations for possible managerial roles in a practice-based manner straight after completing vocational training. In addition, the broad curriculum, including opportunities for internships and international experience, as well as personal contact to the faculty, were compelling.
On Campus Iserlohn there is always something going on, for example, semesters abroad, internships, and clubs. What study-related experience has stuck strongly in your mind?
The absolute highlight was our semester abroad in China.
Florian: I was already in Qingdao during my Bachelor’s in Business and Management Studies in 2011, before my Master’s in Corporate Management.
Carina: I was also in Beijing during my Bachelor’s degree in 2014.
In hindsight, the opportunity to leave your comfort zone for a whole semester and be thrown in the deep end was the most impactful and valuable experience, both professionally and personally. Without the integrated semester abroad during the Bachelor’s degree we would not have taken this step.
China can even keep up with the parties at B7 …
Students have chosen a slogan “Create your story. Inspire the world.” What experiences from your studies supported you to go down your own personal career path? What inspired you to take that path?
During my studies I had the opportunity to try things out professionally as an intern during semester breaks. If you use these opportunities, you get to experience different job types as well as different sectors and get a good idea as to what lies ahead for you and in which direction you’d like to go after completing your degree.
Florian: So, for example, I got my first insights into the automotive industry during my project internship, and that’s what I wanted to do after my Master’s.
You have left Germany and have settled in Shanghai, China. How did this come about?
We both fell in love with China during our semester abroad and we wanted to live and work in China for a longer period of time than just for a semester abroad. We did not lose sight of our goal when we began our careers in Germany. It was important to find a company that was positioned accordingly and was facing the same direction as us.
Give us an insight into your daily routines. How can we imagine your daily and professional life in Asia?
Our daily routine in Shanghai is of course totally different from the one we had in Germany. Shanghai as a megalopolis has everything to offer what you’d expect from a large city in the West, however at a larger scale and of course with a local twist.
During the week our daily routine mostly starts at normal business hours. In comparison to Germany we’re on the move more. Shanghai is as large as the Ruhr area with about 27 million inhabitants, and clients as well as company locations are spread all over China. During the week it’s rare to be at home: There are regular evening events with clients and colleagues, business trips in Asia, or discovering new restaurants and leisure opportunities. There is something going on all the time.
You have already experienced a lot, but you have your whole life ahead of you. Where are you heading next? / What’s your dream? What would you like to have achieved in 10 years’ time?
The experience has shown us that a lot can happen in a short period of time. Different events continuously influence our professional dreams and goals. It’s so exciting!
What is your advice to future and current students at the University of Applied Sciences Europe? What should they make use of at the university? What should they be aware of in their development?
1. Do not put off exams
2. Use your free time for different internships
3. Always leave your comfort zone
Finally, describe your degree in three words!
Diligence, horizon, success
Tim Schneider is a professional basketball player for Alba Berlin. He studied Sport & Event Management while working in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Europe at ALBA Berlin College. We met him for an interview and asked him about his motivation for pursuing a dual degree while remaining an active professional athlete.
Something is always going on at the UE: e.g., semester abroad, internships and departmental projects. Which experience from your first semester at the Alba Berlin College particularly stays with you?
There really is a lot going on already in the first semester. This is naturally demanding, but is also really fun! The variety of topics we worked with in our seminars demonstrated to us from the beginning of the program how multi-faceted the professional prospects are for those with a degree in Sport and Event Management. From my perspective, the best feeling is hearing that you’ve passed your exams.
Students at the UE chose a slogan: “Create your story. Inspire the world.” Which experiences during your studies supported you in pursuing your own totally individual career path and deciding to pursue a dual degree with Alba Berlin College at the UE?
In my situation, I’m employed and I study on the side, so to speak. It’s also clear to me that I can’t work actively as a professional basketball player all the way until retirement. In competitive sports, that’s just the way it is. However, my current job is playing for Alba Berlin, and I would also like to keep my professional focus on basketball later. Therefore, it was very important to me to find an option that allowed me to continue to focus on the sport without dropping out of the organization. When I discovered the option of applying to the UE for Alba Berlin College and combining my career and my studies, it was clear to me: that’s what I want!
What aspect of your studies inspires you?
I am still very happy to have had the chance to study alongside my job. I can completely imagine that this kind of situation is not for everyone. However, our practical work and our classes are compatibly organized. My classmates are also doing a dual-study program, but I am the only one in my semester who is active as a professional player.
Where do you go from here? / What’s your dream? What do you want to accomplish in the next ten years?
I’m still really young, so I think it’s realistic to assume that I’ll still be playing basketball in ten years. I also will have definitely finished my studies by then. With my studies, I’m currently establishing a pathway into the phase of my life after my career as an active professional athlete. However, I can’t say yet what my area of specialization will be.
What tips can you offer prospective students? What should they pay attention to when choosing their area of study?
My recommendation is to choose the field of study that most interests them. Speaking from my own experience, I would even say that the things that best prepare you for the future are the same ones for which you really have a passion. These are definitely different things for differnet people. However, a concrete tip would be: look into your inner self, which hobbies you have, and what interests you in your free time. This way, you can at least consider which steps one has to take to incorporate some of these activities into your professional life. After all, you stick to a job when it’s also fun for you.
In conclusion: describe your studies at the UE and the ALBA Berlin College in three words!
Future, Knowledge, Studies
BiTS Alumni e.V. is the registered association of graduates of the university and serves as the communicative link between students, past and present, and University of Applied Sciences Europe. The association allows members to use their contacts for private and professional purposes, and actively supports the exchange of information and solidarity.
The Career Center forms the bridge between BiTS Alumni e.V. and the university. On the one hand, the Career Center maintains services for graduates even after they have completed their studies and is a point of contact for them when it comes to applying for jobs. On the other hand, the alumni themselves are a link between their employers and the university – mostly in relation to recruiting.
In addition, student coaching by our alumni is supported by the University of Applied Sciences Europe Alumni Mentoring Program, which was set up by the association in conjunction with the Career Center. The aim of the mentoring program is to assign students of the university to mentors. The mentors are mainly university graduates who have an established career and wish to advise and encourage future graduates. The program is open to students of all disciplines. Get-togethers allow both parties to get to know one another, which may lead to tandems between alumni and students. Regional after-work events involving various activities provide an opportunity for non-local alumni to network.
The strong solidarity between the members of BiTS Alumni e.V. is also evident in what the dedicated members offer present students. It is possible for members of BiTS Alumni e.V. to have their references and applications looked over in a simple and convenient process, where association members in an HR and/or recruiting role and with a managerial function check the documents free of charge on a voluntary basis and give feedback in writing or by phone.
More than 70 of our graduates have set up their own firm or are involved in a new start-up. The logical next step for the alumni association is therefore to facilitate a new phase of networking with this group. The Alumni Entrepreneur’s Day brings together founders and those interested in setting up a firm.