Vocational Training Program Graduate
At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
SAP genuinely cares about the career satisfaction of its future workforce.
Before I joined SAP’s Vocational Training Program, I was uncertain about my career path. I come from Engelskirchen, a small village in Germany with a population of 19,000. Young people from my village often choose to work in family businesses after completing the Abitur (the German equivalent of the A-levels orInternational Baccalaureate), while others may attend university in the nearby cities of Cologne and Aachen. It was my IT teacher who encouraged me to apply for this unique program. He had previously worked at SAP for several years and had only positive things to say about the experience.
The Vocational Training Program allows students to split their three years at university between academic study and practical experience at an SAP office. If I had not known about the opportunity, my 18-year-old self would have opted for full-time study or perhaps even joined the workforce. To have the best of both worlds was incredibly appealing, and upon SAP’s acceptance in 2015, I moved to Mannheim to start my journey with the company, while earning my degree in Business IT at the same time.
The program is designed such that I rotate my time between university and SAP’s Walldorf headquarters every three months. The beauty of it is that students have the complete freedom of choice to work at different SAP departments in the three years. The process encourages independence and self-discovery, and no two students have the same experience.
With my interest in IT, I naturally gravitated towards software development for my first practical phase. I found the programming work interesting and the technology exciting, but after three months, I discovered that I wanted to be in a more customer-facing role. I wanted to travel and meet different people, and not be stuck at a desk. This led me to join the Customer Success department in my next phase, where SAP business consultants work very closely with clients on long-term, complex projects. I got to travel to a client’s office, meet new people and apply the business aspects of my degree. It was fantastic. However, I saw that the role required devoting long stretches of time to a single client and I wondered if there was a department that offered more bursts of variety.
That was how I found myself at the Pre-sales department in my final practical phase. The role ticked many of my boxes. It’s a very team-oriented department, where you spend a few days visiting a client’s office, running workshops and finding out their business needs. From there, you compile your findings that inform the Sales teams, and move on to the next customer.
Yet, I questioned whether it was truly for me. Pre-sales offered me almost everything I desired in a career, but I wanted to utilize my technical capabilities and knowledge more. That is why I eventually chose to join the Service & Support department after I graduate. The role involves a lot of travel; I get to work with different companies, and I can apply and grow my technical and business experience at the same time.
I would not have confidently arrived at my decision without the opportunities given to me at SAP. The fact that this sort of professional exploration within the Vocational Training Program is not only welcomed, but encouraged, says a lot about SAP’s genuine care about the career satisfaction of its future workforce.
In the past three years, I experienced a personality shift. I had always been an introverted boy, who preferred to stay at home and play computer games. After moving to Mannheim, I discovered that I enjoyed socializing with others and learning new things. I did not touch a computer game for a year. At SAP, I reached out regularly to colleagues, many whom I had never met, for coffees and chats to find out more about the organization, the business and what they did. No one turned me down. It shows how open SAP is. People here are friendly and happy to share.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single highlight of my time in the program. There are so many. There was the three-month stint in SAP’s Palo Alto offices in the U.S., where I got to work with a diverse and international team of developers and took a road trip through six states. In Germany, I had the opportunity to present at a SAP Sports One technology showcase at a major football game, talking to clients about our innovative game analysis and insights. I also returned to my school in my village to share my experience in the program and encourage students to apply. It felt like I had come full circle.
I wholly recommend the SAP Vocational Training Program to students. You will discover your real self and your path in the span of three years. It would be difficult to find a similar experience elsewhere. It is true that you can bring everything you are, and become everything you want at SAP. I brought my modest background, discovered who I truly was in a supportive environment, and found out what I really wanted to do in my career. I am grateful and excited to be part of the future of SAP.
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