Do internships for commercial graduates
Employers insist on practical experience
The Bologna reform is about to be completed. In Germany, the last degree programs are being adapted. However, there is still uncertainty among graduates about what HR managers expect from them. A survey by the Lebensmittel Zeitung among leading industrial and trading companies shows that practical experience is particularly popular. Most of the respondents agree that bachelor's degrees should, if necessary, insert a semester of leave for paraktika.
"We recommend that every student invest time in practical training. The university landscape in Germany is so diversified that degrees alone are hardly sufficient for assessment," says Sarah Schlepper, Head of the Recruitment Center at Nestlé Germany. The food giant employs many interns, but for at least three months. "A few weeks of semester break are not enough due to the complexity of our company," says Schlepper.
Mix of study time, internships and grades
However, the tightly knit curriculum of the students often makes it almost impossible to combine the standard period of study and longer internships. "We see this development critically. Students should try to gain practical experience at an early stage in order to achieve a good mix of study time, internships and grades," says Stefan Hamm, Head of Personnel Development & Recruiting at Lidl.
For those who cannot or do not want to take time off, a job as a working student, where the academics can work as student assistants in the company in addition to their university work and thus gain practical experience, can be a sensible alternative. Many companies also offer the preparation of a bachelor's or master's thesis to accompany an internship.
In general, the respondents do not decide which educational qualification is preferred. "To this day, it doesn't matter in our company whether bachelor, master or diploma students knock on the door, as long as the qualifications and personal suitability are right," comments Schlepper. Raimund Esser, Head of Corporate Communication at Rewe, states: "The decisive factor is not the degree, but the final grade".
Nevertheless, there is a tendency for more masters to find their way into companies. This is mainly due to the fact that the graduates have more practical experience, but are also significantly older and therefore more mature personally, according to the unanimous opinion. Bachelor's degrees, who, despite their younger age, are primarily recognized for their high level of motivation, tend to enter the world of work through direct entry into junior or assistant positions. "Although we pay close attention to whether a student has practical experience, it is still not an exclusion criterion for us, but a task for systematic induction," says Esser.
At Lidl, too, one likes to see the younger graduates through G8 and Bachelor's degrees and sees training as a challenge rather than an obstacle. "We counter the problem by relying on good, extensive training. Our young talents also get an experienced employee who acts as a mentor," says Hamm, describing the procedure.
Depending on their suitability, the companies also offer dual bachelor's or part-time master’s courses for the next generation. The DIY store operator Obi wants to promote the majority of its young talent from within its own ranks and currently employs around 150 students in dual training. In addition, there are 50 external graduates per year.
Lidl also relies on the part-time bachelor's degree. "The total of around 200 academics that we employ include around 100 students in dual training," says Hamm, quantifying the number of young professionals. Both Aldi Süd and Edeka have recently started offering a master’s degree in retail management in addition to numerous dual bachelor’s degree programs. Aldi cooperates with Reutlingen University, while Edeka cooperates with Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen.
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