When theory becomes practice: A Change of Perspective – Part 2



Read part 1 here » 

published on 8 July 2022 


How it came about that I participated in PROBAS twice was more of a coincidence. Reflecting on it and looking at it from a distance, it was almost fateful, as it led me down a path that I hadn't even considered before. 


When I received the e-mail with the invitation to the PROBAS information event from the Technical University in my mailbox, I was already living in Bavaria with my husband and our son was just 1 ½ years old. I was still com­pletely at home on parental leave, but had started my bachelor's thesis shortly before – the last step that was still pending for my studies in “Applied Communication and Media Science”. For the bachelor thesis, I worked with methods from the field of Data Science for data collection and analysis and discovered how much fun I had reading into these topics. Due to my background in computer science, I was able to wonderfully combine professional and technical aspects here. This was exactly what I was looking for: I always had the feeling that I didn't really fit into either the computer science or the media and communications fields, but that my strengths lay somewhere in between. 

The first weeks with PROBAS

With this new found passion and the unconditional will to learn everything from the field of Data Science, I attended the info session for PROBAS. Although I was already able to work on my bachelor thesis only in the evenings and at night when my husband was at home, I enrolled in the group “business Intelligence”. Due to the pandemic, the seminar was held completely remotely via videoconferencing for the first time, which gave me from Bavaria and with a small child at home the opportunity to participate at all.
The coaching sessions took place over one weekend and five long Fridays throughout the semester, during which we learned the basics of business intelligence and how to use an SAP BW system for the first time. In between, we students joined together for another hour each week to put what we had learned into practice and to work together on the assigned homework in the SAP system.
Since there was only one advanced student in the business intelligence group this semester, i.e. a student who had participated in PROBAS before, we beginners were grouped together with the advanced student. This had the advantage that we could all benefit from both the beginner and advanced coaching. Thomas Keller from Rödl & Partner, who took over the coaching for the advanced students, unceremoniously taught us during the weekly student meetings, i.e. outside of the coaching times, how to create CDS views, which can be used to connect data from the SAP ERP system to the BW system.

With PROBAS into a new world

The SAP world (it feels like) has a language all of its own, and if you've never had to deal with it before, you hardly understand a word when an SAP consultant talks about it. At least that's how I felt at first as a student who was “unfamiliar” with the subject. PROBAS manages to open a door into this world. Once you've gone through it, completely new opportunities open up. SAP knowledge is in demand, further training is very ex­pen­sive – PROBAS offers students of the University Ilmenau a unique opportunity to gain professional skills and increase their own market value. Especially because the seminar is not structured like a typical seminar at a university, but as close to the reality in a company as possible: with its own board of directors, status pre­sen­tations to keep the other groups up to date on the current work status, time recording of hours worked and its own ticket system for technical problems with the SAP system – to take just a few examples. We participants thus learn not only theory and practice, but also how to work together as it happens in a real company. I had the impression that I was learning something for the first time at the university that I could apply one-to-one in my day-to-day work, especially thanks to the coaches who come from the business world and were thus able to provide insights into everyday working life.
These insights were also what made me not hesitate when I was asked by the coaches at the end of the first PROBAS semester whether I was interested in an internship or working student contract in Rödl & Partner’s business and IT consulting. Since October 2021, I have been supporting the SAP business intelligence team as a working student.

From beginner to advanced

My second participation in PROBAS – now as an advanced participant – was completed while I was still a working student. The requirements for the advanced participants differed significantly from those for the beginners:
  • While the coaching for the beginners was more hands-on, the advanced participants were required to think more and solve problems independently.
  • While the beginners were taught the basics, the advanced students had to implement their own group-wide project – this semester on the topic of inventory reporting. 
At the same time, each participating student was given a team task. In my case, it was internal BI coaching. This means that I was available as a contact person for the newcomers in the weekly student meetings for questions and advice on the homework. Here, I also enjoyed being able to pass on my experience.
After completing the two PROBAS semesters, I am not only richer by a certificate, but also by a working student position at Rödl & Partner, in addition to my Master's degree, which I have started in the meantime. A path that was not planned this way, but which suits me perfectly! Even if it remains a great challenge in terms of time, alongside studies and a small child, with the help of PROBAS and Rödl & Partner I have found the interface between IT and communication that I was looking for.
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