Filip left the region of Balkans being barely an adult with the intention of becoming successful. Today, after passing various challenges of living abroad he tells us, from the viewpoint of one of the top students in Germany, about his beginnings, German universities, studying in Germany, German corner, how it feels to be a winner of Venture Campus and to work for the biggest enterprise software company – SAP.
1. How did you decide to enroll in University of Applied Sciences Karlsruhe?
I was looking at different majors and trying to find a tradeoff between what I find interesting and what is in demand on the job market. As it turned out, I was looking for the major in Business information systems. My German teacher guided me with me her valuable pieces of advice. After thorough consultations with her, I learned about different university types, and I discovered a major which combines business and IT. Also, I was looking into the school rankings which Germans do each year and when it comes to my program, the University of Applied Sciences is the best one in Germany. I decided to apply and – viola – they accepted me.
2.Could you tell us more about your development path before university?
I wasn’t particularly active in the high school because I was playing sports back then. I was somewhat interested in psychology, philosophy and I did a lot of math for what I give credit to my teacher since she held extraordinary classes and taught us a lot. The math knowledge she passed to me, made my life easier at the University and helped me to get my first job in Germany. After the first semester, I started working as a mathematic tutor which means holding additional math exercise for first-year students, grading midterm test, helping out with their homework and other math challenges which students encounter. Even I was surprised with, how I started to appreciate studying after the high school and studying hard until I understand the given subject.
3.I suppose you were an excellent student. Could you tell us more about sacrifices you made to achieve that?
I wouldn’t call that a sacrifice, rather as an investment in myself.
When it comes to studying in Germany, it is entirely different environment compared to what people are used to in Serbia. Students tend to organize themselves in groups, so we share the “burden”, and we discuss the subject which makes the overall studying process easier. It costs more time, however, the at the end of the day I don’t feel so exhausted from studying. In general, I try to relax at home, hang out with friends or do sport. When it comes to studying, the great thing about Germany is that libraries exist which are opened around the clock. Also, they include learning rooms for teams or individuals. These libraries are especially beneficial for the self-organisations, so for example students who prefer to study during the night can do that as well. One should also bear in mind that possible issue with learning in a group is a lack of focus, to that the “teamwork” turns into hanging out instead of actual work. Nevertheless, studying in a team is a great approach to tackling down the subject. Anyway, if you opt to study alone, you can always find private rooms, since reading and learning places do not close except for special occasions such as Christmas.
4.Could you tell us where are you especially active, both in and out of the school?
I have traveled a lot recently, both as part of studies and in my free time. Now, I started a project, a website, which aims to provide information, tips, thoughts & experiences about studies, work and life in general in Germany. It’s not dedicated only to students, but also to all people from former Yugoslavia who search for high qualified jobs in Germany. Besides me, my friends from ex-Yugoslavia will also write articles about their experiences, their perspectives on things which are important for people who plan to come here. So, whoever is interest in Germany and wants to move here, can find information on our website Nemacki kutak (German Corner) or at our Facebook or Tweeter pages. Additionally, we will also inform people about job openings both for students and professionals. I hope, it’s going to help people and make their way to Germany a bit easier.
5.How it feels like to study at prestigious universities and can you tell us something about the relations between students and professors, regarding both classes-exams and theory-practice?
At a university of applied sciences, the primary focus is in the essence of a subject, i.e., the theory which you can use in real life. The knowledge you can use in projects or some other sort of practical work.
Personally, I found it useful, since I could apply things I heard about in the school in a company. In Germany, it’s mostly learning by doing rather than learning by heart – you learn to understand and apply knowledge instead of training your memory. Compared to USA or Australia, where I was also studying, Germany has the most practical courses. For example, when you take a look at exams – while the others require you to write essays and repeat words from books, in Germany it is the most important to show your understanding and to say as much as possible by using as fewer words as possible.
6.How is the “Business plan” subject organized at your university?
The first time I wrote a business plan was in the first semester of undergraduate studies. As part of course “Introduction to Business Administration”, we had to develop financial part of a business plan based on provided example and in consultations with our professor. During my graduate studies in Berlin, which represents the center of the startup scene in Germany, and after BREXIT also in Europe, we had in-depth business plan subject called Venture Campus. Every week we had a guest lecturer, a professional expert, talking about theory and its experience covering a particular part of a business plan. For example, a marketing expert talking about marketing, a psychologist talking about presentation skills and idea pitching, a lawyer talking about patents, etc. Students formed teams, and each team had it’s own business idea and their consultant. The consultants are actually professional start-up consultants from the industry, and their interest is possible after-university cooperation since students do actually start a startup after the subject. The Venture Campus subject has in a pretty short time, encouraged and provided skills to a lot of students, who started a lot of startups. Some of them already have customers with big names such as Google, some of them had significant exits, and some of them died. In the end, each team pitches it’s idea in front of potential investors made of business angels, state and private funds, etc. Thus, you could interact with a lot of different investors who, together with professors and your consultant grade your business plan. If you manage to gain the attention of the investors, you already have possible funding for your startup. I have to mention that my team and I won with our idea.
7.Given the fact you had the privilege to be an intern and later working student for SAP, the biggest company in the world for enterprise software, what have you embraced and learned in such huge system?
I had an opportunity to see how a world-class corporation looks from inside and to meet a lof amazing people who are motivated by innovation and quality. I have learned new workflows, how to improve self-organization and part of many technologies they use, develop or research. Working student is a common type of job for students in Germany, a kind of contract which binds students to work up to 20 hours per week for some symbolic hourly wage between 9 and 19 euros, depending on a company and your negotiations skills. You are not hired to make coffee as it is, unfortunately, typical for many internships in Serbia. You are in the company to do the real work which is of use to the rest of your team and enterprise. Nobody will pay you to do nothing. At the same time, it represents some kind of trial period for a company, since they have enough time to get to know you better and to figure out if you are capable of doing a full-time job and if you fit into the company so that they could hire you when you finish your studies. I wrote my Bachelor’s this at SAP and I’ll write my Master’s thesis as well. Students in Germany have the opportunity to write thesis both at the university and in a company. The thesis is paid in a company, and the thesis at university is usually without salary, although you can find paid ones as well.
Author: Branka Čvorović