After finishing my high school diploma, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do afterwards. I decided to study business law, to gain a broader business perspective. After a year, I was conscious that business law wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I consulted the Student Advisory Service, which brought me to Sociology.
That led to a bachelor of arts in Sociology (a minor in Psychology) at the University in Mannheim. During my studies, I was able to gain practical experience at SAP, starting as an intern and continuing as a working student in Walldorf. After writing my bachelor thesis at SAP and graduating successfully, I continued to do my master's in Heidelberg and started as an HR Early Talent effective on April 2017, working at SAP full-time.
What exactly is the HR Early Talent Program?
This one year program in HR offers participants the ability to join three different HR departments locally at SAP, as well as one abroad. All trainees (globally around 10-15 per year) will work for 3 months in a center of excellence (i.e. leadership, learning), 4 months as HR Business Partner (strategic port between HR and hiring managers) and 5 months in Global Service Delivery (i.e. Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards). It’s an ideal environment to gain experiences, develop new skills, build a network and find a suitable starting point after the program.
SAP as an employer is perfect for me. I appreciate the company culture, the flat hierarchies and the diverse Career Development offerings. Especially for Early Talents, there are numerous training and professional development opportunities available to obtain the skillsets you need for your dream job in HR. Furthermore, there are various benefits you can use during your career path (free lunch/beverages, company car, share plans and many more).
How did you join the HR Early Talent Program?
The one year trainee program has been established for several years now at SAP. The application period starts in October, which covers three interview rounds and a CV check upfront, then if selected to join the program, you start in April of the next year. As I already worked at SAP as a student before, I knew the program very well and was aware of the application process and prepared accordingly.
Did you already specialize in Human Resources during your studies?
During my studies, I worked as an intern and working student at SAP and thus had work experience in the HR environment; the statistical knowledge and practical seminars helped me especially in the beginning of my journey. Unfortunately, a specialization was not possible neither in Mannheim nor in Heidelberg afterwards.
What does your daily work look like?
The variety of tasks is very diverse. In my HR Business Partner rotation, I learned how to plan HR processes in a strategic way in strong collaboration with the hiring managers in the respective area. Thankfully, I spent most of the time working on content-specific topics rather than on administrative tasks. This diversity of tasks and projects is exactly what I want to do in my daily work, as I build my career. I could not imagine having a so-called “boring desk job,” where I continue to do the same mundane tasks every day. In this role, you never complete training, because there are many changes you need to adjust and new challenges to face.
My second rotation, in Total Rewards, was totally different compared to the HR Business Partner rotation. Very strict and specific German law and guidelines minimized the scope of my projects, because a deep knowledge of taxation processes and pension plans was needed to answer the questions coming from the internal customers. Having an overview of existing programs was also beneficial in being able to help my colleagues. So, my rotations were in two totally different areas but I had so many learning opportunities to develop my HR skills.
What is your advice to students who are interested in a position in HR?
In my opinion, it is crucial to get practical experience(s) during your studies. And in my experience, working as an intern or working student is the best way to get to know a company. You can take a look in the different departments to find out whether the company might be a potential employer afterwards, and maybe even more importantly, if the field of study you are pursing is suitable for you. It is also beneficial to establish an internal network in the desired company who can let you know of open positions or could function as a referral in many situations.