Choosing a career is rarely a straightforward affair. Young people, who have little experience of the working world are expected to make a momentous decision based on very little knowledge. Unless they have a firm 'calling' to a certain profession, how can they really know whether the career they think they want will meet their expectations?
It's a tall order; all the more important when you consider they'll spend approximately one third of their life at work.
Bruker's apprenticeship program in Germany is one way we support young adults at this pivotal point in their lives. The training course, designed to help them in their choice of career, provides valuable hands-on experience and a highly regarded qualification. But don't just take our word for it; one such apprentice shares her experience of the training program, with the hope to inspire other young adults.
How did you become a Bruker apprentice?
I started a degree course at Karlsruhe University of Applied Science. While studying there, I also worked at Bruker via an internship. It was during this period of work experience that I decided to drop out of university, as I felt the work at Bruker suited me better than the purely academic environment. Being familiar with the company and enjoying the work there, I took the opportunity to chat with the Human Resources (HR) department about my aspirations and future career possibilities. It was then that I seriously considered the company's apprenticeship program as a possibility for my future and accepted the Industrial Management Assistant place, they offered me.
What qualifications did you need to join the apprenticeship scheme?
Usually to be an apprentice you have to have a foundation of GCSEs (general certificate of secondary education). In my case, I also had A-levels and proof that I had begun a degree course at university, so at 25 years old I was a little bit older than most apprentices when I joined.
How long will it take you to complete your apprenticeship?
For me it will take two years because I have A-levels. I've already completed the first year. For most apprentices, though, the course usually takes three years. It depends on your educational qualifications.
How does the apprenticeship scheme work?
Like the other apprentices, I spend some time attending vocational school in Karlsruhe to learn the theory. We have what is called "block classes" which means we alternate between school and work every few weeks. A two to four-week block of school is followed by a four to six-week block of work at Bruker. Vocational school is very similar to normal school; only the content is different. Prior to becoming further education teachers, many of the course leaders used to work in industry, so they have relevant knowledge and experience to pass on. The rest of the time I spend here at Bruker where I'm given the opportunity to work in different departments.
I have spent quite a bit of time in HR as I worked there as a student during my internship. So far, I have also worked in purchasing, R&D and facility management. Right now, I'm in finance. The program is very varied, which is what primarily attracted me to Bruker's apprenticeship - unlike a university degree, it gives me the chance to see and try different jobs, as opposed to just learning about how they work, which will help me to make a better informed decision about my career.
Do you have a permanent mentor at Bruker?
Yes. I, along with the other apprentices have someone who has overall responsibility for us. They create our schedules so that we each have the chance to move from department to department, sampling the different job functions and related work. Each of these departments also has a dedicated member of staff to look after the trainees.
In addition, at the beginning of the apprenticeship I met all the other trainees - not just the ones that started with me. Those who are further into the program are another resource I can use if I have any questions.
Which is your favourite department so far?
So far, I have enjoyed being in every department. My colleagues have always taken the time to explain their work to me and to teach me new things, thus giving me a good impression of the everyday work in their departments. And they always took time to answer my (many) questions. I have learned a lot and that is exactly why I chose the apprenticeship in the first place. Through the apprenticeship I was able to identify the kind of work that I prefer and in which direction I would like to go in the future.
Where do you want this apprenticeship to take you?
Finance/accounting was one of the departments I was most curious to see because of my interest in working with numbers. So far it has been helpful because I didn't really know what to expect concerning the day-to-day work. I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks in accounts.
How many other trainees are there right now?
Each year, there are two new apprentices, all training to be Industrial Management Assistants. There are currently six apprentices overall. Next year I think the company are planning to offer technical apprenticeships as well so there will probably be more in the coming years.
What qualification do you receive at the end of your apprenticeship?
I will have an Industrial Management Degree. It's a very diverse degree and a well-respected profession. Being an Industrial Management Assistant is an official job title that can be found in most departments in an industrial company. With the degree, I can pursue many different careers.