As a Working Student in the Product Management

How I Met My Job – Our colleague Felix Krause tells us how he came to his current job as a product manager at Babtec via a student job. He also reveals what advantages he sees in a work-study program, what his greatest learning experience was, and what advice he can give to students!

Who I Am

My name is Felix Krause and I have been working for the software company Babtec as a product manager since 2018. I started there in 2017 as a working student. Before that, I studied economics at the University of Wuppertal and graduated with a bachelor's degree. At the time of my working studies, I was studying for a master's degree at the distance learning university Hagen. In this How I Met My Job story, I'll tell you about my reasons for working as a student trainee, about my start at Babtec, and about the advantages of a working student program.

My Studies

Or: The Challenge of Freedom

I had a problem during my studies that I probably share with quite a few people of my generation: I had no real plan. After graduating from secondary school, I went straight to university without any idea of what I wanted to do for a living. I decided to study economics because the social science course I took at school had taught me that this study program enables you to act in the corporate world in a variety of ways. However, this freedom was too much for me since you can do everything and nothing with this degree program – another feeling that I shared with many of my fellow students. There was only one rough idea: I had a tendency towards marketing, because I liked both the psychological and the creative part of the studies very much. I also noticed that I work very well in a team; I'm simply not the lone wolf type but develop the best ideas in collaboration.

I want to be able to stand behind the product my company creates.

Felix Krause

After Graduation: The Reality Check

Team member Felix at work on the tablet

After the bachelor's degree came the reality check: jobs in marketing were not so easy to get and often a master's degree was required here. But honestly, at that time I was at a point where I was just through with studying. Studying every day without knowing what you're doing it for was very difficult for me. I need a sense of purpose in what I'm doing, and I was struggling with that in my studies. I just wanted to know where I was going with myself and my life.

I ended up doing a paid internship in marketing at a technology company. Here I was enthusiastic about the company's products and realized: this is important to me! I want to be able to stand behind the product my company offers. But here, too, the master's degree was an inescapable barrier to entry. That's why I registered at the distance learning university Hagen to remain flexible and to gain experience parallel to my master's degree. I wanted to find myself in the working world.

My Start at Babtec

The First Contact

When I was in the first semester of my master's degree, a friend of mine took part in the excursion weeks of the University of Wuppertal, during which students can visit companies together and get to know them. He told me about how Babtec seemed cool and was also looking for junior staff. At the time, I was already thinking about working as a student trainee, so I took a closer look at the company and applied for a position as a working student in project management. At the interview, the atmosphere was relaxed and although I was very nervous, I was able to convey well that I really wanted to learn in practice and take advantage of the opportunity I was given.

During a second interview, I was asked if I could imagine working in product management. I then met my potential future supervisor, who I liked right away. I also found product management very appealing, especially because it gives you an insight into many areas of the company. You're close to the company's strategy and interact with a lot of people. But since I didn't have any IT background from my studies, it was a bit of a leap for me.

Starting my Professional Life as a Working Student

My new team was great right from the start; my colleagues always took care of me and explained a lot. Of course, it does take some time to get to grips with a complex topic such as quality management software. That's why the training period took longer than it might have with other products; however, I was already able to take on smaller tasks under the guidance of my mentor. What I enjoyed most were analyses, such as competition analyses, which I already knew from marketing during my previous internship. The team continued to be very supportive, and the atmosphere was great. That carried me through the initial "training struggle" and made me want to become a real #partoftheteam.

From Working Student to Permanent Position

During my working student program, there was a vacancy in product management. My supervisor asked me if I would like to join his team as a young professional, as he could well imagine me in the position. I was very happy about that! I was free to continue my studies on a part-time basis or to focus solely on practice – and I opted for pure practice. That was the right thing for me at the time because I really wanted to gain practical experience, and I also liked the fact that degrees weren't everything at Babtec, but that skills and motivation were also recognized.

And Today: My Job as Product Manager

Team members Felix and Anna in a meeting

By now, I'm really into it and I can fully live out both my communicative and my creative skills – in an area that I hadn't considered as a career field at all before. It wasn't long before I got the chance to design my first product. I was given a lot of responsibility early on, which I'm grateful for, because it allowed me to make another real leap in learning. It was challenging, but I had an experienced colleague by my side as a mentor in the project. This meant I was right in the middle of the product manager's day-to-day work and had full creative freedom with the new product. This also brought me closer to the work area of UX/UI design (which stands for user experience and user interface design), in which you put yourself in the role of the user and focus on designing experiences within a piece of software.

And that's just cool: what attracted me to marketing in the beginning, the psychological and the creative aspects, I now completely find in my job. I can also develop myself further every day. Technology is making huge leaps and we also offer a cloud solution alongside our standard software, for example. I find it exciting to be part of the digital transformation, and at the same time I feel like I'm doing something meaningful.

My Conclusion on the Working Student Program

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The Advantages at a Glance

Working as a working student is especially advantageous for all those who need practical experience to find their own way and to get to know their own strengths even better. You can sharpen your own profile, it's good for your resume, and of course it's also financially rewarding. You generally remain quite flexible; for example, I was able to cut back on my working hours during exam periods. In addition, the work-study program gives you room to develop, to try things out for yourself, and to make mistakes in a more relaxed way. Everyone is aware that starting a career can be tough and that you simply can't know straight away how things will go. That's why you can grow into new tasks without worrying.
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My Most Important Learning

At that time, it was particularly important for me to learn that I had a value on the job market. I already had skills that were not assessed or graded at university, but which I could use profitably for my company. The hurdle into professional life was therefore not as great as I had imagined. I think for many students this phase is associated with anxiety. And the feeling that, despite the many question marks you still have, you can already pitch in and deliver added value has motivated me.
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My Advice to You

Try out a working student program in any case! Of course, it must fit your own path, because such a study can also be a full-time job. If you can arrange it in terms of time, then it is a really good thing, because you will never get this time of learning and trying things out again. If the first experiences in the professional world can already be made during your studies, that is worth a lot – even if it is just to learn what you are studying for. Ideally, you will also get to know a company where you can imagine a future.

Contact

Portrait of Alina Ziehn

Do you have any questions about your application or a working student program at Babtec? Our Recruiting Manager Alina Ziehn is looking forward to hearing from you!

Alina Ziehn
People & Culture
Phone: +49 202 4960-177
e-mail: ziehn@babtec.de

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