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Philipp Steinroetter

Vocational Training Program Student

My SAP Vocational Training experience was filled with lots of  experiments, trial and error, and unfettered curiosity.

Philipp Steinroetter

At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.

I love to create and build things. Getting my hands dirty, testing different solutions and constructing working prototypes have always been my preferred ways to learn. When I was young, I learned programming off the internet and developed a smartphone game where you had to avoid zombies on the screen. It took me two months to finish it, and it wasn’t a great app, but every milestone felt like a real triumph. Later, I tried to create a program that could solve my math homework and dabbled in different programming languages. Despite having no formal training in programming, I believe my side pursuits opened doors to a career at SAP.

Understanding my learning style led me to apply for dual study programs that combined practical and theoretical phases. Six months before program applications opened, I visited SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, to learn more about the company and the Vocational Training (VT) program. In that week, we heard from current students about their experience, took part in programming workshops and were exposed to SAP’s culture. I liked what I saw – from the organization’s flat hierarchy to the friendliness of its people. In the end, I applied to 11 companies, but SAP was my top pick.

From my very first practical phase, I knew I had made the right choice. I was one of three students in the solutions experience team assigned an open task to deliver a SAP technology showcase at an event. We were free to do our own research, experiment and build the final product. The showcase we built for SAP’s Vehicle Insights, a cloud-based application that collects, maps, stores, and analyses vehicle and sensor data in real time, involved a model toy car play set, which we reversed engineered, so you could control the cars by code and race them against one another. Even though the project was challenging at times, because we had to learn the technologies from scratch and then build it, it was a fantastic experience.

Being part of the VT program gave me opportunities to travel and widen my horizons. I spent one practical phase at SAP Palo Alto, U.S., and had the chance to interact and work with different people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It is a truly international environment filled with nationalities from all over the world. Here, again, I was given a blank slate to experiment and solve real-world problems. In this case, it was an issue that impacted the quality of life for the employees of SAP Palo Alto – car parking. We designed an internal parking solution that could detect occupied parking lots split between two car parks. We even built hardware, made prototypes and invited managers to hear our pitch. Even though it wasn’t adopted due to circumstances beyond our control, I learned a lot about collaboration, design thinking and the importance of buy-into turn an idea into a reality.

One of the best experiences I had at SAP was a chance to work at the Internet of Things(IoT) Practice Unit for my final practical phase. It was the most intense working experience, but immensely fun. IoT is an amazing technology that uses collected data from sensors to make future predictions, among its many uses. It opened my eyes to the intricacies of data science and engineering and I am keen to explore future opportunities in this field at SAP.

Looking back, my SAP VT experience was filled with lots of experiments, trial and error, and unfettered curiosity. The culture at SAP allowed me to share my ideas freely and come up with solutions without having to ask for permission. I was never afraid of approaching a manager or senior leader. And when I spoke up, I was given significant responsibilities. At SAP, you’re never viewed as a ‘just a student’.

My advice to future VT students is this: build your network, try different things and look for opportunities. You can bring whoever you are and become what you want. Just don’t be afraid to go for it.

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